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The top news stories of 2011 were not just stories, but most came in a series of stories. The many issues affecting the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the many walks and vigils to stop the street violence, the demand for police accountability after the Jordan Miles incident, and the status of the Hill District grocery store and YMCA.

The single stories were: UYA closes, Hill House CEO steps down, new one selected, Target opens store in East Liberty, Courier 100 year celebration gala.

FIRST BABY OF 2012—New parents Akaisha Yancy, mother, and Maron Brown, father, admire their new baby, Akier Yancy-Brown, who was the first Pittsburgh baby born of the new year at 12:18 a.m. at Magee-Women’s Hospital of UPMC. Yancy and Brown are both students at Slippery Rock University. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

Courier celebrates 100 years—While numerous newspapers and magazines have gone under throughout history, the Pittsburgh Courier continues to march on. The third oldest African-American newspaper in the United States recently celebrated 100 years of existence—a centennial highlighting the years of producing thought-provoking and entertaining stories for the city of Pittsburgh and beyond.

Board closes 7 schools—On Nov. 22 the Pittsburgh Public School District Board of Directors approved a slew of plans aimed at reducing the district’s projected 2012 budget deficit of $21.7 million. Among them were the elimination of single-gendered classes at Westinghouse and the sale of two school buildings. Also approved in the package was the district’s realignment plan, which will see the closure of seven more schools and the elimination of 400 positions in the district. This includes the merger of Perry and Oliver, and Brashear and Langley High Schools.

New WAMO? Urban radio station comes to city—As of May 21, WAMO, the radio station and once the heart of the Black community, is now back in Pittsburgh and on the air. The station, which is WPYT-AM and is based in Wilkinsburg, can be found at 100.1-FM and 660-AM.

Hill breaks ground for Shop ‘n Save—More than 30 years after the last grocer closed in the Hill District, residents and community leaders celebrated the groundbreaking for a new Shop ‘n Save, creating 85 construction and 100 retail jobs, and saving hundreds of residents from having to leave their community for basic needs.

Lane: Community input a priority—To a crowd of approximately 400 people, new Pittsburgh Public School District superintendent Linda Lane shared her plan for the district, largely carrying on the work started by former superintendent Mark Roosevelt. However, in her conversation with moderator Lynne Hayes-Freeland, an anchor with KDKA-TV, she also placed a great emphasis on evaluating current programs and initiatives to determine whether they are effective.

Hill House selects new CEO—After a corporate career that took her as far away as London, Cheryl Hall-Russell returned to her native Indiana and her nonprofit roots. Now she is bringing her extensive expertise to Pittsburgh as the new president and CEO for the Hill House Association.

UYA closes despite plea—When Rev. Cornell Jones learned Urban Youth Action, the organization his father Bernard started 45 years ago to give African-American youths the skills and knowledge to succeed in the job market, was to close Oct. 31, he tried to contact the board about keeping it alive. He received no reply—for six weeks.

Women’s Walk for Peace—Over the past decade, 80 percent of the homicides in Pittsburgh have come as a result of Black-on-Black crime. Of these killings nearly 80 percent have also been caused from gun violence. For the first time at the Women’s Walk for Peace, sponsored by the Northside Coalition for Fair Housing, the women activists and their supporters took a stand against gun violence, recognizing it as the leading cause of suffering in their communities.

City Council unanimous on police accountability—After months of tweeking, meetings, objections and finally consensus, Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed legislation that will allow for more monitoring of police actions, which supporters said would foster greater cooperation and trust between the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and particularly, the Black community. It passed council unanimously, Oct. 11.

Police recruiting changes could increase diversity—At a recent meeting with local community groups July 14, Tamiko Stanley, the city’s equal employment opportunity officer, announced a series of changes to police officer recruiting aimed at increasing diversity on the Pittsburgh police force.

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