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Original and in-depth coverage about topics important to Pennsylvania

Avoid the guessing game in search for nursing home

Federal website will no longer use self-reported data

The responsibility of finding the right long-term care facility for his mother, whose memory is clouded by dementia, gnawed at Ron Clark.

Though he sometimes asks 88-year-old May Clark if she remembers him, she seems to know when her son needs consoling. She grips his thick palm, weathered from years as a power plant mechanic, and the familiar touch evokes a smile of relief.

Marcellus Life: A small town in Elk County struggles with rules for shale gas drilling

About a dozen St. Marys officials, outfitted with baggy blue jumpsuits, earplugs and white plastic hard hats, recently visited a Seneca Resources well pad on a wooded hilltop to see what fracking is all about.

This part of Pennsylvania, about 120 miles northeast of Pittsburgh in Elk County, has been relatively untouched by shale drilling. But people see it coming in two test wells Seneca has there now, with more wells in the future.

Race and justice

The deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police has led to protests across the country, including in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and sparked a national conversation about the use of force by police. 

Holly: One face of the national heroin crisis

Heroin is cheap, plentiful and extremely addictive, and it does not discriminate based on race, place or social standing. It’s in urban Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It’s in the suburbs. And it’s in places like Kittanning, a small river town in Western Pennsylvania where drugs used to be sold behind closed doors, and now they’re on the street corner.

PA creates office to protect seniors

Guardianships to receive more oversight

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania will create a state Office of Elder Justice to protect seniors from abuse and financial exploitation, primarily through proposed reforms to court-appointed guardianships.

The new office was recommended by a 38-member Elder Law Task Force, which released its report today after 18 months of research.

A silent community speaks out about communications technology

This story has been updated Her voice and hands sapped by ALS, Mount Lebanon resident Mara Sweterlitsch uses a speech-generating device to write and print out questions for her next doctor’s appointment.

Jennifer Lowe, a 46-year-old Brighton Heights woman with cerebral palsy, handles email and phone calls through her communication device to work as an education consultant for students with disabilities.

Down the line

More than 1,000 miles of natural gas pipelines planned

There’s not enough pipeline infrastructure in our region to move all the natural gas coming from fracking in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays to other markets.That’s changing. Big pipeline projects (some with hefty price tags) are in the works to move the gas and natural gas liquids. Some of them won’t be ready for years. Regulatory approval for these interstate projects can be slow. And some of the pipelines face intense opposition along their routes.

Price of the Prize

Wolf holds on to lead despite Corbett’s final push

The final two weeks of the Pennsylvania governor’s race have had all the appearances of a high-profile, competitive contest.

The polls thus far would suggest otherwise.

Some clients of PA guardianship agency are being repaid

When Joe Stigers of Johnstown took over as legal guardian for his wife in 2013, he realized that more than $7,200 in Social Security disability payments was missing from her account.

Life means death for thousands of PA prisoners

Death in prison is not rare.

In Pennsylvania, one in 10 inmates is sentenced to life in prison. Because state law gives them no possibility of parole, nearly all of more than 5,300 inmates serving life terms will eventually die inside prison walls.

Price of the Prize

Wolf’s lead remains strong in raising cash and in polls

Less than a month before the election, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and his challenger, Democrat Tom Wolf, have raised and spent enough money to put the governor’s race on track to be the most expensive in state history.

During this election cycle, Wolf has raised $27.6 million and spent $21.1 million compared with Corbett, who has raised $20.6 million and spent $19.3 million.

Why is the NFL a nonprofit?

A list of America’s best compensated CEOs, as you might imagine, includes a dream team of industry titans. According to Equilar, which collects data on executive salaries, Oracle’s Larry Ellison pulled in $96.2 million of total compensation in 2012; he’s followed by other bold-faced business names like Robert Iger of Walt Disney ($37.1 million), Rupert Murdoch of 21st Century Fox ($22.4 million), and Alan Mulally of Ford ($21 million).

Another member of that salary stratosphere is Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League, who earned $44.2 million in total compensation in 2012.

Marcellus Life: One Greene County man’s encounter with a landman

Leigh Shields refused to allow seismic testing for natural gas on his 88 acres in Spraggs, Greene County. He thought if he said no to the company asking, that would be the end of it.

Vermont closed workshops for people with disabilities; what happened next?

The sheltered workshops that are still prevalent in Pennsylvania were shut down in Vermont more than a decade ago. And now, the employment rate of people with developmental disabilities in the New England state is twice the national average.

A top Pittsburgh emergency response official talks about the risks of crude oil trains

Emergency response officials are currently assessing the risks that trains carrying millions of gallons of highly combustible crude oil pose to residents in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

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