Week of July 9

Published Jul 7, 2014 at 10:35 am (Updated Jul 7, 2014 at 10:35 am)

Same-sex benefits deadline extended

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has given county employees in same-sex domestic partnerships another year to marry to acquire county benefits. “The July 31, 2014, date that was originally set is too aggressive. Working through the Human Resources Department, the 11 employees currently receiving same sex partner benefits will have until June 30, 2015, to make the personal decision regarding whether to marry and formalize their relationship. All new county employees, however, will be required to follow the same policy regarding how and when benefits are offered to partners and families,” Fitzgerald said in a statement.

This reverses a statement from the county from the week of June 23 that said same-sex partners had to prove they were married by July 31.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in May.

Record number of bald eagles

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has released its mid-year report on bald eagles showing a comeback since the birds were on the state’s threatened list for 30 years. The bald eagle was removed from the threatened list in January. When the Game Commission first took action in 1983 to help increase bald eagles across the state, there were only three documented pairs of nesting bald eagles. Data show 254 documented nests in at least 59 of 69 counties--an all-time high for the mid-year report in Pennsylvania, which is released every year before July 4.

“These are only ones we’re aware of,” Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthrew Hough said. “There are more.” If an undocumented nest is spotted, residents should send an email to pgccomments@pa.gov and write “Eagle Nest Information” in the subject field. The 2013 mid-year report had 252 bald eagle nests in the state, but saw numbers increase to 273 by the end of the year.

More than three million viewers have watched a local mother bald eagle care for three chicks this spring that fledged their nest in Pittsburgh’s Hays neighborhood.

Host families sought

Visiting students, ages 15-18, from around the world are seeking host families in and around Pittsburgh for the upcoming 2014-2015 academic school year. Host families are needed for the fall semester and full school year.

Host families (traditional families, singles, empty nesters, etc.) serve as mentors and a home base for their student. Visiting students participate as active members of the family and integrate into their host’s daily routines and traditions just like any other family member.

“Every year, Pennsylvania plays host to many talented, top-of-their-class students with the lifelong dream of studying in America,” said Emily Rolin, iE-USA’s Area Director. “Pennsylvania’s spirit of hospitality and focus on academic enrichment makes it an ideal environment to develop cultural exchange and promote international diplomacy on a local level.”

iE-USA, the sponsoring program, is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting education and understanding through intercultural and academic exchange. iE-USA is certified by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel and strictly adheres to all U.S. Department of State Student Exchange Program regulations and guidelines.

Exchange student participants undergo an extensive application and orientation process in their home country prior to being accepted into iE-USA’s program. Each student is responsible for his/her own spending money and full health insurance coverage.

To learn more about how to make the dream come true for an international high school exchange student, contact Pennsylvania representative, Joe Bissell at j.bissell@international-experience.net, 517-388-8948. Host families may review prospective student profiles online at iE-USA.org. Families interested in hosting this year must apply by August 15, 2015.

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