2009 Top 10 local stories

WAMO sale leaves hole in Black community

Within six months, pending the approval of the Federal Communications Commission, Pittsburgh will lose its only urban radio stations. On May 15, Sheridan Broadcasting Corp. announced the sale of stations WAMO-FM 106.7, WAMO-AM 860 and WPGR-AM 1510 to St. Joseph Missions for $8.9 million.

CONFRONTING BLACK-ON-BLACK VIOLENCE—One of the major problems of 2009, if not the major problem, was Black-on-Black violence. There were a record number of vigils, marches and community meetings in 2009 to confront the problem. Shown above was one of the many.

Three officers gunned down

Stanton Heights is supposed to be one of Pittsburgh’s “safe” neighborhoods—nice homes, middle-class, racially diverse with a fair number of police and fire personnel living there.
One of those police officers, 14-year veteran Eric Kelly, 41, was on his way home after work April 4 when he heard a radio call dispatch from two officers just blocks from his house. Kelly went to assist them—and never made it home. He parked his car outside 1016 Fairfield St., got out, and was immediately hit multiple times by rifle fire. His fellow officers, Paul Sciullo II, 37, and Stephen Mayhle, 29, had already been fatally shot, and the “safe” neighborhood cringed in terror as a gun battle raged for another three hours between police and 22-year-old Richard Andre Poplawski, who was living with his mother at the Fairfield Street address.

Dwelling House closed by feds

In July, John Haines, president of the troubled Dwelling House Savings and Loan, told the New Pittsburgh Courier he had a “plan on the table” that he believed would satisfy federal regulators who ordered the bank to close if it did not restore $3 million core capital stolen last year in a scheme using bank-to-bank wire transfers. “We’re waiting to hear from them,” he said.
On Aug. 14, he did, when officers of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. closed the bank and began transferring depositors’ accounts to PNC Bank, but not before the federal Office of Thrift Supervision fined five of the bank’s directors for multiple violations of a 2006 order to institute money-laundering prevention procedures.

Local civil rights icon Harvey Adams dies at 80

Harvey Adams Jr., a civil rights pioneer who survived Korea, diabetes, the 1968 Riots in the Hill District and who helped integrate the Pittsburgh police force, died Sept. 7 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 80.

Report shows achievement gap narrowing in math, widening in reading

An independent report released by A+ Schools, showed a considerable racial achievement gap still persists in the Pittsburgh Public School District. The report, released Nov. 9, showed Black students had lower math and reading scores, lower percentages of enrollment in advance placement classes and lower percentages of eligibility for the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship.

August Wilson Center adds feather to cap of Cultural District

Close to 800 came out to witness the World Premiere of The August Wilson Center for African American Culture Sept. 17. The $39.5 million multidisciplinary facility is dedicated to the memory of playwright August Wilson, who grew up in the Hill District, a mere mile from where the center now stands.

Women’s Walk message hard to swallow

On Oct. 3, more than 300 people gathered at the Northview Heights Bridge to begin the 2nd Annual Women’s Walk for Peace. By the time they reached their destination in West Park, two miles later, their numbers had doubled.
Meeting them head on in the park later that day was national radio personality Bev Smith with a tough message. She told the women to take responsibility for the violence in their community and to take a stand against it.

Rivers opening rated a success

Waiting outside the Rivers Casino amid the 300 or so patrons clamoring to be among the first players to enjoy the new attraction, Jacqulin Thomas was glad she lived on the North Side, where they were celebrating the grand opening of the casino on Aug. 9.

New appointment gives Blacks equal power on school board

At the Aug. 26 Pittsburgh Public School Board meeting, Dara Ware Allen, Ph.D. was sworn in as school board director of District 2. As the addition of another African-American to the school board, her appointment marks the first time four Blacks have served on the board at one time.

Penn Hills from middle class to low class

Penn Hills was once a thriving area, but it is steadily changing. The place that the middle class once thought of as a place to live and raise a family is now a place many try to avoid, and some are even moving away. Many residents are fed up with the increasing crime, poor quality of life and overall feel of Penn Hills.

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