Listen: Jamie Holmes is our guest this week on "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes." The show airs Sundays at 8 a.m. on WEDO (810) and WZUM (1550) and at 3 p.m. on Internet radio station WMCK.FM. It's also available as a free podcast from our website.
In 2005, a 17-year-old who had just graduated from McKeesport Area High School started a charity with the help of her grandma's checkbook.
Last year, Jamie's Dream Team raised nearly $400,000 to provide help to children and families in serious need. More than 3,000 people have benefited from Jamie's Dream Team since its inception, Holmes says.
"We've grown fairly quickly," she says. Although the charity remains based in the McKeesport area, it now serves families anywhere in the United States. "Where the money is raised is where the money stays," Holmes says. "If we get a request from North Carolina, we try to raise the money there."
The charity is presently trying to raise $52,000 to send 10 families to Walt Disney World in Florida and to help raise funds will hold a fishing derby Aug. 12 at Twin Lakes Park just east of Greensburg. Contestants will be able to compete for cash prizes as well as gift cards, Holmes says.
The Mon Valley is at the forefront of a new industry that will be as transformative for the rest of the world as the steel industry was a century ago, state Sen. Jim Brewster said Thursday.
At a groundbreaking ceremony on the site of the former U.S. Steel National Works, Brewster called PurePenn's new medical cannabis production and research facility "a beacon of hope" for both the region and patients around Pennsylvania.
"Don't let the naysayers drag you down," Brewster told a crowd of more than 200 gathered in the RIDC Industrial Center of McKeesport, where PurePenn is purchasing five acres of property, with an option to purchase five more. "We can do almost anything in the Mon Valley --- you should believe that."
Afterwards, many in the crowd joined the hundreds of people who lined up outside the Palisades Ballroom to apply for one of the 25 jobs that PurePenn needs to fill.
Gabe Perlow, the company's chief executive officer, said operations will begin by Dec. 20.
I opened our mailbox recently to find a very pleasant surprise.
Along with a $324.00 bill to our Internet radio station, WMCK.FM, from one of the music licensing agencies, there were four donations from Finney Funeral Homes on behalf of families whose loved ones' obituaries recently appeared on our sister website, McKeesportObituaries.com.
This message is to thank Finney Funeral Homes and their staff and employees, includng owner and funeral director Scott M. Finney; licensed funeral directors Cynthia L. Finney and Edward C. Finney; and office manager Kathy DeMarco, for their continued support of our efforts to build a non-profit, community journalism website for the McKeesport area.
We do not ask funeral directors to pay to post obituaries --- it's done free of charge, as a public service to the community --- but donations from the Finneys are helping to sustain that service.
Fireworks will wrap up the first night of McKeesport's 58th International Village, Aug. 15, 16 and 17 in Renziehausen Park.
Mike "Mikey Dee" Dorich, entertainment coordinator for the festival, released the entertainment schedule this week.
Dancing will be provided in the Jakomas Blue-Top Pavilion each night from 5 to 9 p.m. Scheduled to appear are the Balkan variety band Harmonia (above) on Tuesday, the kolos and czardases of the Gipsy Stringz (below) on Wednesday, and polkas with Johnny Koenig on Thursday.
The ninth annual International Village for Kids will be held from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Lions Bandshell in Renziehausen Park, a spokeswoman said.
All children under age 6 should be supervised by an adult. Activities will include free food, games and crafts, music, exercises and a visit from a costumed character from the movie "Trolls" from 1 to 3 p.m.
In addition, inflatables will be open and McKeesport Police Department will be available to fingerprint children.
UPMC Senior Services will do free blood pressure screenings at 9 a.m. Aug. 14 at the Carnegie Library of McKeesport, 1507 Library Ave., a spokeswoman said.
The blood pressure screenings are part of UPMC's Living at Home Program, which provides care for older adults and makes referrals for a range of services, including home delivered meals, grocery shopping, housekeeping and yard work.
The screenings will be done in the fiction room on the main floor of the library. For more information, call (412) 672-0625.
U.S. Steel will test emergency equipment at its Clairton Works on Tuesday, a spokeswoman said.
Meghan Cox, manager of corporate communications, said the plant will begin testing sirens, warning lights and other alarms at 9 a.m. and continuing until 1 p.m.
Local agencies, including Clairton police and fire departments and Allegheny County 9-1-1, have been notified of the tests, she said. The tests may be audible in Clairton as well as surrounding communities.
Cox said U.S. Steel tests emergency notification systems once per year "to protect the safety of our employees and the surrounding communities in the event of an actual emergency."
A job fair in Homestead on Aug. 4 will match "real employers with real jobs," according to its sponsors.
"Jump Start Your Job Search," sponsored by Mon Valley Initiative and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Re-Entry Coalition, will include 11 different employers and five different job training programs, a spokeswoman said.
The event will be held from 12 noon to 2 p.m. at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, 475 E. Waterfront Drive, at the Waterfront shopping complex.
A special, by-invitation-only session is being held from 9 to 11 a.m. Everyone who attends will have a chance to win one of five $20 gift cards.
Camille Smith, MVI workforce development specialist and financial coach, said attendees should bring their resumes, if they have one, and dress neatly.
(UPDATED with comments from McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik.)
A McKeesport man faces a preliminary hearing Monday after police said he deliberately set the fire that damaged his residence on May Street.
Michael J. Wright, 48, is charged by McKeesport police with arson, causing or risking a catastrophe and reckless endangerment of other persons. He is being held in Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $20,000 cash bond pending the hearing at 1 p.m. before Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi.
According to a police report, firefighters were called just after 11 a.m. June 4 when witnesses reported seeing smoke coming from a residence in the 900 block.
Thanks to two local men and West Mifflin Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 914 Intrepid, a ceremonial howitzer near Kennywood Park recently received a much-needed facelift.
Ken Curcio and Garrett Tomko, both from West Mifflin, refurbished the monument earlier this month as part of a community service project. The howitzer sits in Mitchell Paige Memorial Park at the intersection of Homeville Road and Commonwealth Avenue, and is seen by thousands of motorists as well as students at nearby West Mifflin Area High School.
According to VFW Post 914 Commander Jake Bradich, the results couldn’t be better.
“Like the men and women who serve in our armed forces, you always expect a piece of military hardware to look sharp,” said Bradich, an Army combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “I’m glad we’re able to help honor our veterans in this way, and I thank everybody in the VFW and in the borough who helped make this possible.”
Motorists in White Oak, North Versailles Twp. and Monroeville can expect brief delays as crews perform repair work on area roadways, a district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation announced.
Beginning Thursday, workers will be replacing curbs and traffic light sensors on the following roads:
Route 48 (Jacks Run Road) between Lincoln Way and Route 30;
Route 48 (Mosside Boulevard) between Cambridge Square Drive and Route 22;
Northern Pike between Pitcairn Road and Route 22 in Monroeville; and
Haymaker Road between Route 22 and Beatty Road in Monroeville.
Pittsburgh Crime Stoppers is asking for the public's help as police try to solve the June 19 killing of 24-year-old Diaz Petty.
Petty was found at 11:07 p.m. that night lying on the ground in the 1000 block of Lysle Boulevard, suffering from a gunshot wound, police said. He was taken to the hospital but died of his injuries.
Allegheny County police homicide detectives are investigating. They say that Petty had been seen earlier in the evening with another man and a woman about a block away on Fifth Avenue. Petty and the other man were having an argument, police said, when gunshots were heard.
A McKeesport man is wanted by Allegheny County police in connection with the shooting death of a 23-year-old woman Sunday night.
Daniel Bizzelle, 25, is charged with homicide, attempted homicide, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and firearms violations, Allegheny County police said in a release.
Two people were gunned down just after 10 p.m. Sunday in the 1000 block of Fifth Avenue.
Police have said they believe that Samantha Klavora, was an innocent bystander and that a 38-year-old man whose name has not been released was the actual target of the shooter or shooters. The man was critically injured and taken to the hospital, police said. No details about his condition have been released.
Bizzelle is approximately 5-feet-9 and 160 pounds, police said, and has a tattoo of a gun on the left side of his neck, as well as tattoos on both forearms. Police said he has ties to Clairton as well as McKeesport.
Anyone who heard or saw anything surrounding the shooting is asked to call McKeesport police at (412) 675-5015 or the Allegheny County Police Homicide Unit at (412) 473-1300. Callers can remain anonymous.
A fire in a large compost pile in Clairton that's been burning, on and off, since last week appears to have broken out from natural combustion, Allegheny County officials said Monday.
However, a county spokeswoman said, the pile was created by illegal dumping of debris, and the fire is having a negative impact both on the air quality in the neighborhood, as well as a nearby creek.
The property owner will be cited by the Allegheny County Health Department's Solid Waste Program for improper disposal of waste and for the conditions that led to the fire, the county said in a statement.
The Clairton Fire Department was dispatched to a site off of Worthington Avenue several times last week for what firefighters thought might be a mine fire, Allegheny County officials said.
One person was killed and another wounded during a shooting Sunday night on Fifth Avenue, Downtown, and Allegheny County police think they may have been victims of retaliation.
Samantha Klavora, 23, died at the hospital of gunshot wounds to the abdomen following the incident between Martin and Center streets, said a spokesperson for the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office. Her death has been ruled a homicide.
The other victim, a 38-year-old man, was wounded and is in critical condition, Allegheny County police said. His name was not released.
Investigators believe he was the intended target and that Klavora was shot because she was standing near him, county police said in a statement.
We're less than a month away from McKeesport International Village, Aug. 15, 16 and 17, and Tube City Community Media is once again planning to webcast live from the main stage (weather permitting) all three days.
Over the years we've been doing this webcast, more than 7,000 people have watched all or some of the video.
But it costs money --- especially paying for the Internet connection and the storage on the streaming server. The server charge alone is about $22 per month (otherwise, the video of past International Villages will be deleted).
I know it's not "ABC Wide World of Sports quality," but we also don't have anything like an "ABC Wide World of Sports" budget. And every year, we do try to get a little bit better. We're all amateurs and volunteers.
We would like to raise $750. Donations may be tax-deductible as allowed by law. All donors will be acknowledged on our website, in a sign on our booth at International Village, and during the broadcasts.
If your business or organization would like to advertise during our International Village webcast, we need your information before Aug. 7! (Advertising does not qualify as a charitable contribution.)
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me (412) 614-9659.
For $125, we will make a minimum of one 30-second announcement for your group, business or organization every hour, plus we will run a banner ad on Tube City Online for at least 30 days.
For $225, we will make a minimum of one 60-second announcement for your group, business or organization every hour, plus we will run a banner ad on Tube City Online for at least 60 days.
This year, we also intend to have a "selfie station" where people can take photos of themselves at International Village. If you would like to sponsor the "selfie station," please email me at email@example.com.
Click this button to make a secure donation using PayPal. PayPal will email you a receipt instantly:
Rivers of Steel Arts will hold its first-ever Community Day at the historic Carrie Furnaces site in Rankin and Swissvale from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday (July 15).
"Bring the kids and meet your neighbors at the national historic landmark Carrie Furnaces for a day filled with creative projects, outdoor fun, raffle prizes, local food and entertainment," a spokesperson said.
Visitors will get behind-the-scenes look at the exciting programming RoSA offers throughout the season including hands-on workshops, photo safaris, graffiti art projects, foundry work and much more.
Located at the end of the Rankin Bridge, just opposite from The Waterfront, the Carrie Furnaces were built in 1884 and during their peak produced 1,000 to 1,250 tons of raw iron per day.
The facility, once part of U.S. Steel's Homestead Works, closed in 1982. All that is left are furnaces No. 6 and 7, which operated from 1907 to 1978. The furnaces were designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006 and are among only a few pre-World War II 20th century blast furnaces to survive.
(A firearms dealer is renovating the former Burt Foster American Legion Post, shown here, for use as a retail store. Residents packed this week's city council meeting, saying the location showed insensitivity in a town fighting against handgun violence. Tube City Almanac photo.)
Residents of McKeesport angry over a firearms dealer's planned expansion Downtown packed city council chambers this week to raise issue with what they called a lack of "transparency" and "consideration."
The store's owner, meanwhile, said Friday in an interview with Tube City Almanac that he hears their concerns, but is running a legal, responsible operation.
"I'm not here for scare tactics and I'm not here to sell guns to other people who shouldn't have one," said Jonathan Stark, owner of Pittsburgh FFL, which is renovating the former Burt Foster American Legion post to be used as a retail gun store to be known as "Legion Arms."
"I'm not a 'crazy gun guy,'" Stark said. "I'm a businessman. I think that's what allows me to understand both sides of the issue.
"We operate responsibly, but I do understand that there is a stigma," he said. "We provide a legal, lawful business and service, and I want everything we do to be positive."
Residents of Liberty Borough are being urged to vaccinate their pets after a rabid cat was found in the area.
The Allegheny County Health Department said that a cat got in an altercation with a dog in the 3100 block of Valley Ridge Road this week. The cat, believed to be feral, was found to have rabies.
Anyone in that area who has had exposure to a feral cat should contact the health department, a spokeswoman said, and contact with stray animals should be avoided. Residents should have their pets vaccinated, and watch for unusual behavior.
“Well-intentioned efforts by individuals sometime can result in unnecessary exposure to pathogens like the rabies virus,” Dr. Karen Hacker, health department director, said in a statement.
So far in 2017, seven rabid animals have been reported in Allegheny County, includijng one cat, three bats and three raccoons.
The company that has just been awarded a license to produce medical cannabis in McKeesport will hold a job fair for potential employees on July 27.
PurePenn LLC is purchasing five acres in the industrial park along the city's Monongahela River waterfront to construct a growing facility and laboratory. The company is one of 12 statewide that were awarded licenses to produce medicinal cannabis, or marijuana, to potentially treat conditions ranging from glaucoma to chronic pain to lack of appetite caused by the effects of chemotherapy.
The job fair will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Palisades ballroom, corner of Fifth and Water streets, Downtown, next to the McKees Point Marina. The company expects to hire 25 people to begin operations within the next six months.
"PurePenn is very committed to being involved in this community," Mayor Mike Cherepko said. "They are committed to finding workers from within the city of McKeesport, as well as veterans. It's a great opportunity for our residents."
McKeesport's controller was appointed to the city's top administrative position on Wednesday night, while the man who was running to replace the controller has been elevated to that job on an interim basis.
Council voted 6-0 to name Tom Maglicco as city administrator, effective immediately. Councilwoman Fawn Walker-Montgomery was absent during the vote.
Maglicco replaces Matt Gergely, who resigned to take a position as assistant to the business manager in the McKeesport Area School District.
"Mr. Maglicco was on a very extremely short list" of replacements for Gergely, Mayor Mike Cherepko said. "It was very clear to me early on that he has a passion for making McKeesport a better place to live and work."
The death of a man who was found on Fifth Avenue on the night of June 19 has been ruled a homicide.
Otherwise, few details are known about the death of Diaz R. Petty, 24, of McKeesport, who was discovered lying on the sidewalk in the 900 block at 11:11 p.m.
He died at a hospital a short time later of a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office.
Allegheny County police said that there may have been an argument preceding the shooting.
Anyone who may have heard or saw anything is asked to call McKeesport Police at (412) 675-5015 or the Allegheny County Police Homicide Unit at (412) 473-1300. Callers can remain anonymous, a spokesman said.
Sv. Nikola Brodar CFU Lodge 432 is taking orders for Mezick lamb and preparing for an afternoon of music and dancing to the music of Mikey Dee.
Lamb Orders Due July 9: Orders for barbecued lamb by Mike and Carol Mezick are being taken through July 9 for pickup starting at 12:30 p.m. on July 16, the next indoor picnic. The lamb must be pre-ordered; call your order into (724) 872-7495.
Mikey Dee on July 16: Those picking up their lamb orders are invited to stay and enjoy it at our indoor picnic on July 16.
The club's smoke-free dining hall will be open for guests to enjoy listening and dancing to the music of Mikey Dee from 2 to 6 p.m. "in air-conditioned comfort," a spokeswoman said.
McKeesport Area School District residents will pay a little bit more in property taxes next year.
The final budget of $65.6 million adopted June 28 by a 7-1 vote will increase the tax rate from 16.74 mills to 17.37 mills.
A tax increase of 0.63 mills would add 63 cents on every $1,000 of assessed value of a property. A taxpayer with a house valued at $50,000 will expect to see their annual school property tax go up $31.50.
School Director Scott Smith was the only board member to vote no, although Christopher Halaszynski was not in attendance.