On today's program: The No. 2 Pitt volleyball team heads for the NCAA tournament; runners lace up to ease local food insecurity; how political turmoil could hurt the holiday retail season; state lawmakers turn to criminal justice reform; and the Carnegie Science Center's miniature railroad celebrates 100 years of engineering memories.
Pitt clinches third straight ACC championship
(00:00 — 10:55)
The University of Pittsburgh volleyball team, ranked second in the nation, hopes to accomplish what none of their predecessors have—winning a national championship.
The Pitt squad wraps up their regular season at home Wednesday evening against Louisville, although they have already clinched a third straight ACC championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Who and where they will play in the first round of the tourney will be announced Sunday.
“The team has grown so much nationally in the last few years, and it’s really cool to see the students and community more involved, more excited about our sport, and [we’re] just excited to see how far we can go in this tournament,” says senior Stephanie Williams.
Head coach Dan Fisher and fellow senior Layne Van Buskirk agree, and winning that first national title would be especially sweet in front of a home crowd.
The NCAA semifinals and finals will be played in Pittsburgh at PPG Paints Arena December 19 and 21.
"Whether we’re good enough, time will tell," Fisher says.
How a foot race can help fight food insecurity
(12:22 — 17:50)
Thousands of runners from around the country will take part Thanksgiving morning in the YMCA’s annual Turkey Trot in Pittsburgh to ease food insecurity in the region.
“I think we understand the concept of food insecurity, but I don’t think we understand how widespread it is,” said Carolyn Grady, senior vice president of development for the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh. “We talk about Pittsburgh being a wonderful place to live, and it is. But there are pockets of the city where the struggle for food is still very, very real.”
One in five Pittsburghers is uncertain whether they will have enough food to meet their basic needs. That’s well above the national and Allegheny County averages of 12.3 percent and 14 percent respectively, according to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks.
The Turkey Trot includes 5K, one mile and five mile races on the North Shore and Downtown, which draw both serious athletes and casual runners.
“I especially love families that I’ve seen all dressed up," Grady says. “They dress as the entire turkey dinner; I’ve seen families [in costumes] where they have the knife, the fork and the plate.”
Grady said people can still register to run online through 7 p.m. Wednesday, and food donations are welcome at PNC Park.
A shortened shopping season could spell trouble for retailers
(17:51 — 22:20)
Retailers are hoping to find cash in their companies’ stockings this holiday season, but 90.5 WESA’s Maria Scapellato reports they might find coal instead. She spoke with Nicole Coleman, a professor of marketing at the University of Pittsburgh, who says tariffs and a late Thanksgiving could be the recipe for a slow holiday shopping season.
State Sen. Camera Bartolotta is calling for criminal justice system changes
(22:21 — 26:43)
When Republican state Sen. Camera Bartolotta of Washington County was elected in 2014, she had little inkling that she would emerge as a leader in the fight to reform the criminal justice system. She tells 90.5 WESA’s An-Li Herring that she jumped in the fray after meeting her now-fiance, former Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Bill DeWeese, who spent 23 months in state prison after a jury convicted him in 2012 for illegally using state resources for political gain.
Bartolotta’s interest comes as legislators try to advance several bills meant to help people accused and convicted of non-violent crimes. Some measures, for example, seek to make it easier for people with criminal records to find jobs, while others aim to reduce incarceration.
Kaufmann's joins Carnegie Science's historic mini railroad
(26:46 — 38:57)
The Carnegie Science Center’s miniature railroad and village first opened to visitors in 1919 as a much smaller design set up inside the private home of Charles Bowdish in Brookeville, Pa., but in it's grown in size and prestige in the 100 years since.
Patti Everly, the museum's curator of historic displays, offers a tour of the sweeping diorama, including this year’s new addition: the Kaufmann’s clock and depot.
The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.