Above: Cadet Evan Reed of the McKeesport Area High School Junior Air Force ROTC program places an American flag at the city's War Memorial on Lysle Boulevard during Memorial Day observances Monday. (Tube City Almanac photo)
More than 100 people gathered Monday morning at the city's War Memorial on Lysle Boulevard to commemorate the lives of those from the Mon-Yough area who died in service to their country.
Participants included area veterans' organizations, the recently restarted Junior Air Force ROTC program at McKeesport Area High School, members of the high school band and choir, and current and retired elected officials.
Memorial Day is not just the "unofficial start of summer," McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko said. "It's very sad that all too often we forget what the true meaning of Memorial Day is," he said. "All of you who are here --- you don't forget. Let's make sure we remind others as well."
(Above: Staff of the Mon Valley Independent pose for a picture to celebrate the Monessen-based paper's one-year anniversary. Mon Valley Independent photo.)
More than a year after the closure of McKeesport's 131-year-old Daily News, two other local print newspapers are expanding into the Mon-Yough area.
Munhall's weekly newspaper, The Valley Mirror, which serves communities in the West Mifflin, Steel Valley and Woodland Hills school districts, has added coverage of Dravosburg, Glassport and Port Vue, among other McKeesport suburbs.
Meanwhile, Monessen's new daily newspaper, the Mon Valley Independent, celebrated its one-year anniversary on May 2 by beginning to sell papers in McKeesport.
At stake for both the Independent and the Mirror --- at least in part --- is the revenue from legal advertisements that Pennsylvania municipalities are required to place in newspapers of "general circulation." McKeesport officials are already considering a shift of the city's legal advertisements from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to the Mon Valley Independent to save money.
Jamie Matson was awarded "Best of Show" at the McKeesport Art Group's 59th annual Spring Art Show, held Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Jacob Woll Pavilion, Renziehausen Park.
Matson's oil painting, "Heron Rising" (above), received the top prize in the competition, judged by Renie Pollock, longtime art instructor, president of the Greensburg, Pa., Art Center, a former art gallery owner, and curator of the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival Exhibits.
There were 93 entries in this year's competition, said Jan Catalogna, Art Group president. Also on display were paper gowns crafted as props by the McKeesport Area High School art department for the school's recent production of "Cinderella."
The City of McKeesport will host its annual Memorial Day ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday in Memorial Park at the corner of Lysle Boulevard and Market Street, a spokeswoman said.
Participants will include City officials, Allegheny County officials, local veterans, students enrolled in McKeesport Area High School’s Air Force JROTC program, and members of the McKeesport Area High School Tiger Band.
The keynote speaker will be JROTC Cadet Corps Commander Kyle Nelson.
The events will be broadcast live --- weather permitting --- beginning at 10 a.m. on Internet radio station WMCK.FM, which can be heard using the Streema, Tunein or Radio.net smartphone apps, the free WMCK.FM Android app, or via the WMCK.fm website. The event will then be re-broadcast following the 6 p.m. news Monday for the benefit of people participating.
Neither glass slippers nor fairy godmothers are necessary to attend this year's 59th annual Spring Art Show by the McKeesport Art Group.
But a little bit of the magic from McKeesport Area High School's production of "Cinderella" will be on display. Handmade, full-size paper gowns that were created as props for the recent school musical will be exhibited at the art show, which opens at 5 p.m. today at Jacob Woll Pavilion, Renziehausen Park.
Jan Catalogna, president of the art group, says the gowns --- made by the school's art department --- are "gorgeously crafted." Few of the people who attended the high school's production of "Cinderella" got to see the gowns up close.
"It's a shame that so few people saw them during the running of their play," she says. "Needless to say, we are excited to be able to share this work with the public."
May 15, 2007: Voters in Pennsylvania overwhelmingly rejected a proposal from Gov. Ed Rendell to allow school districts to lower their property taxes in exchange for enacting higher wage taxes. The referendum called for by Act 1, the "Taxpayer Relief Act," was rejected in 98 percent of Pennsylvania school districts.
As the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition noted at the time, "Part of the issue with funding (Pennsylvania) schools is that rural or older districts do not have the assessed value to support education. If they do not have the assessed value, they will not have the aggregate income level either ... the shift is especially valueless in distressed districts and the overall tax increase in rich districts is smaller than in distressed ones."
In an editorial, Tube City Almanac said Rendell had received a "spanking" from Pennsylvania and suggested that Act 1 was only shifting the tax burden, not reforming an unfair system for funding schools.
For his part, Rendell said voters were "were confused" and didn't have enough information.
"Let's put to rest the legend that Fast Eddie (Rendell) is a political genius," we editorialized. "For whatever reason, he keeps misreading the mood of the citizens and other elected officials, making his political acumen looks less 'David L. Lawrence in his prime' and more 'second-term Milton Shapp.'"
Westmoreland County has begun work on its newest industrial park, to be located near West Newton.
At a meeting last week of the Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce in Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland County Commission Chair Gina Cerilli said the new facility in Sewickley Twp., to be known as Commerce Crossing, will hopefully begin accepting its first tenants in 2018.
The park will be located adjacent to Interstate 70, she said, adding "our goal is 150 acres of pad-ready sites."
According to county officials, the site will include direct railroad access. Cerilli said Westmoreland is hoping the site will be attractive for businesses that are related to Shell Chemical Co.'s new ethane cracking plant, now under construction near Monaca, Beaver County.
White Oak borough council could decide by August whether to pursue a project to make Lincoln Way better for pedestrians.
At Monday's meeting, council discussed the possibility of pursuing a multimodal transportation grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development to upgrade lighting, pedestrian crosswalks and signage along Lincoln Way and other side-walked areas.
The grant can also be used to add benches and trash cans to the sidewalks, borough officials said. But placing the benches would offer their own set of challenges, and some council members said it might not be worth pursuing them as part of the grant, particularly since the borough no longer has a bus route.
Above: McKeesport Area High School principal Tom Bauman; band director Drew DeCarlo; orchestra director Sarah Persin; and Mark Despotakis, director of market development for Progressive Music. The National Association of Music Merchants last week recognized McKeesport Area School District as one of the best communities in the country for music education; Despotakis helped to present the award. (Photo courtesy Progressive Music)
McKeesport-based Progressive Music Company has been named one of the Top 100 musical instrument dealers in the world by the National Association of Music Merchants, a spokesman said.
NAMM, the worldwide association of stores that sell music and related products, will formally present the award to Progressive Music on July 14 at the Summer NAMM Show in Nashville, Tenn.
It's the fifth time that Progressive Music, which recently celebrated its 70th anniversary, has been named to the Top 100 list. The company is located on Fifth Avenue, Downtown.
The company is "honored" to make the list during its anniversary year, said Mark Despotakis, director of market development for Progressive.
Members of the knitting club at the Carnegie Library of McKeesport "bombed" the facility on Saturday morning with a massive, colorful project. (No one was injured, though reports indicate a few stitches were dropped.)
The group, called the "Mad Hatters," decorated one of the trees on the library grounds with its knitting.
The Mad Hatters are one of hundreds of groups from around the world that will be participating in "World Wide Knit in Public Day" on June 10. World Wide Knit in Public Day began in 2005 and the McKeesport group participated for the first time in 2016.
The event at Carnegie Library will begin at 10 a.m. and is open to knitters of any skill level. For more information, visit the website or call Mary Rose Bendel at the library at (412) 672-0625.