Special Election Tomorrow Determines 35th District's New State Rep.

January 22, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Politics & Elections

Voters in the 35th District will head to the polls Tuesday to elect a new state legislator.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Clairton, Duquesne, Lincoln, McKeesport, Munhall, South Versailles Twp., Versailles, Whitaker, White Oak and five neighborhoods of West Mifflin.

Democrat Austin Davis (above left) and Republican Fawn Walker-Montgomery (above right), both of McKeesport, are running in the special election to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of former state Rep. Marc Gergely. Gergely resigned after pleading guilty to criminal conspiracy and violating state election laws for his connection to a video-poker and gambling ring.

Walker-Montgomery is a former two-term McKeesport city councilor, while Davis is executive assistant to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Click on either candidate's name to learn more:

 
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Three Wounded in Area Shootings

January 22, 2018 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Crime and Police News, Duquesne News

Three people were injured Sunday in shootings in Duquesne and Turtle Creek, Allegheny County police said.

The shootings were not fatal, though homicide detectives are investigating.

In the first incident, county police said two victims were sitting in a car in the 1000 block of Lincoln Avenue in Duquesne at 3:57 a.m. Sunday when another car pulled alongside of theirs. Someone inside the other car then opened fire on the first vehicle, county police said in a prepared statement.

 
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Thank You, McKeesport and Mon-Yough Area

January 22, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

I want to thank, publicly, the following people, organizations and businesses who contributed to our year-end fund drive. If I missed anyone, I apologize. (UPDATED: I realize I'd missed any donations made online. The list is now updated.)

  • Paul E. Bekavac Funeral Home, Elizabeth
  • Tom Carter
  • E.R. Crawford Estate Trust Fund
  • Robert Dacey
  • Mary Ellen Driver
  • E.C. Finney Funeral Home, Glassport
  • I.M. Finney Funeral Home, Dravosburg
  • S.M. Finney Funeral Home, Clairton
  • Sharyn H. Fletcher
  • Jo Ann Hartos
  • Judith E. Hornfeck
  • Vicki Johnston
  • Janet Kulis
  • Doris T. Lynch
  • Joan A. Mayhue
  • Harry R. Miller
  • Ruth Ann Molloy
  • Mortuary Society Inc., Clairton
  • Rose M. Sakas
  • John Stevens
  • Young Funeral Home, Butler, Pa.
 
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McKeesport's 'Crown Jewel' Prepared for Sale

January 19, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photo special to Tube City Almanac)


Amazon.com? Your new Pittsburgh-area headquarters is waiting at the corner of Walnut and Lysle.

If not Amazon, says city resident Regis Mellinger, why not Apple Inc.? The company has announced plans to re-invest $350 billion in the U.S. economy --- why couldn't it be in McKeesport?

Mellinger, a sales associate for Howard Hanna Wilson Baum Agency and the operator of the "Positive McKeesport" Facebook group, knows it's far-fetched to think that Apple or Amazon would want to open an office in the city.

But Mellinger doesn't think it's a crazy idea to envision the 112-year-old People's Union Bank Building --- which has just gone up for sale at $400,000 --- as the headquarters for a high-tech company, or as loft apartments.

 
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White Oak Rec Board Slates Middle School Dance

January 18, 2018 |

By Cami DiBattista | Posted in: White Oak News

The White Oak Recreation Board will host its monthly dance for middle school students from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, a spokesperson said.

The event will take place in the Francis McClure Intermediate School gym. Admission is $5 at the door and a concession stand will be open. For more information, contact Ethel at (412) 378-1550 or follow the White Oak Recreation Board on Facebook.

Future dance dates are Feb. 9, March 16, April 20 and May 18.

 

New Detox Unit at UPMC McKeesport Addresses 'Growing Epidemic'

January 18, 2018 |

By Lynne Glover | Posted in: News

A view of the new inpatient detox and rehab unit at UPMC McKeesport --- the only one of its kind in Allegheny County. (Submitted photo courtesy UPMC)


Every day in Allegheny County, between six and 14 people are admitted to a hospital emergency room after an overdose, according to a 2016 study by the county's departments of Health and Human Services.

With its soon-to-open detoxification and rehabilitation unit, UPMC McKeesport is “stepping up to address the growing epidemic,” says Mark Sevco, hospital president.

Epidemic indeed: In 2016 and 2017, there were 35 fatal overdoses in the McKeesport zip code, 15132.

On Jan. 10, one day before UPMC McKeesport held an open house for its soon-to-open inpatient detox and rehab unit, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf declared the heroin and opioid epidemic a statewide disaster emergency.

 
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Clairton Couple Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide

January 17, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A married couple died at their home Wednesday morning in Clairton in what appears to have been a murder-suicide, Allegheny County police said.

The Allegheny County medical examiner's office has identified the victims as Robert Lewis, 72, and his wife, Louise, 73. A spokesperson said both were pronounced dead at their home in the 900 block of School Street from apparent gunshot wounds.

Homicide detectives said that Robert Lewis appeared to have shot his wife, and then turned the gun on himself, but that their investigation was ongoing.

 
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Former City Man Indicted on Child Pornography Charges

January 17, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A former Christy Park resident has been indicted by a federal grand jury after being accused of coercing several minors to engage in sexual activity, and then making videos of them.

Scott Joseph Payne, 31, is charged with three counts of coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, three charges of production of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor, and one charge of possession of such material, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said Wednesday.

The indictment was returned Tuesday in Pittsburgh, Brady said in a prepared statement.

According to court records, Payne is currently being held in the Allegheny County Jail after violating terms of his probation for a previous conviction on child pornography charges.

 
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Free Tax Prep Services Available Through April 17

January 17, 2018 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Mon Valley residents who need help filing their income taxes may be eligible for one of several free tax clinics being provided around the district.

The clinics are being held in McKeesport, Duquesne, Braddock, Clairton, Homestead, Turtle Creek and Elizabeth beginning Jan. 27, said Stephanie Eson of Human Services Center Corp. in Turtle Creek.

The clinics are being sponsored in part by the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the Human Services Center and other agencies.

Although the clinics are free, appointments must be scheduled in advance by calling 2-1-1, Eson said. To be eligible, taxpayers must have had a 2017 income of $25,000 or less if filing as an individual, or a household income of $45,000 or less.

 
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New Police Chief Named in White Oak

January 16, 2018 |

By Cami DiBattista | Posted in: White Oak News

White Oak Borough has named Mark Sargent as its new police chief.

Council this week voted to offer the position to Sargent.

“I feel Mark will do a great job,” said Councilman Lou Bender, who previously served as police chief before retiring from the position in December. “He has tons of experience. He’s been on the police force for 22 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and teaches at a local police academy. He’s a great officer and would make a wonderful police chief.”

In other business, council voted 6-1 to allow the transfer of a restaurant liquor license from Pleasant Hills into White Oak. The license will allow the Speedway on Route 48 to sell beer, wine coolers or malt beverages.

 
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White Oak Rec Board Chair, Members Thanked for Service

January 16, 2018 |

By Cami DiBattista | Posted in: White Oak News

At White Oak Council's meeting this week, Karen Slobodian (above) accepted a plaque from Mayor Ina Jean Marton for her 17 years of service on the White Oak Recreation Board. The chair of the organization for the past three years, Slobodian is stepping down but said she still hopes to assist the board with some of their activities. 

Also recognized by council for their service as members of the Recreation Board were Andy Macey, Art Maksin, Tom Miller, Lois Paige, George Pambacas and Lisa Pitchford.

 

Five Honored For Living McKeesport Message

January 16, 2018 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Above: Pat Harris and Cheryl Myers Cotter receive a proclamation from McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko during January's city council meeting. (Tube City Almanac photo)


Five people were honored this month by McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko and city council for living the "McKeesport Message."

At this month's city council meeting, proclamations were presented to George Mushalko for living the value of "respect," to Carlinos Acie for "hope," and to Pat Harris and Cheryl Myers Cotter for "love."

Also honored, for the value of "dignity," was Melissa Staley, who could not be present.

The "Living the Message" awards are presented quarterly by a subgroup of Cherepko's Select Committee on Crime and Violence.

 
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New Emergency Shelter Available to Mon Valley Families in Need

January 14, 2018 |

By Cami DiBattista | Posted in: Duquesne News

A new shelter for families who need someplace to live in case of an emergency will address a longstanding need in the Mon Valley.

Opened last week in Duquesne by McKeesport-based Auberle, the shelter can accommodate up to 20 individuals at one time and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Affordable housing is already really difficult to obtain, and in the Mon Valley there are a lot of issues with people being able to maintain employment and find affordable housing, which leads to housing instability and crisis,” said Aisling McIntyre, Auberle's housing director, who is supervising the staff and opening of the facility.

“The goal of the program is to keep families safe, assist them with securing more permanent housing and link them to available resources,” McIntyre said.

Auberle is seeking donations of new items for people who stay in the Family Emergency Shelter including diapers, baby wipes, towels, washcloths, baby formula and more.

 
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Few Details Released in Duquesne Man's Death

January 14, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News, Duquesne News

Few details have been released in connection with the shooting death Friday night of a Duquesne man.

The Allegheny County medical examiner's office has identified the victim as 24-year-old Shavell Davidson.

In a prepared statement, Allegheny County police Lt. Andrew Schurman said officers were dispatched to a home in the 100 block of South Seventh Street just after 7 p.m. Friday for a reported shooting.

When they arrived, they found Davidson suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, Schurman said.

The medical examiner's office said Davidson was pronounced dead at the scene inside a private residence.

Friends and family plan a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. Monday at the corner of Seventh Street and Kennedy Avenue, according to information posted on Facebook.

 

Emergency Work Begins on Executive Building; Street Still Closed

January 12, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photos special to Tube City Almanac)


City officials are hopeful that the 300 block of Fifth Avenue will reopen early next week after demolition crews finish removing damaged bricks from the facade of the Executive Building.

The street was closed Jan. 5 after part of a decorative brick pillar on the Ringgold Street side of the building collapsed on the sidewalk. Similar cracks were spotted in the brick pillars on the Fifth Avenue facade as well, leading the city to close the street to through traffic.

Betters Company of Lincoln Borough is working to remove the damaged sections of the pillars from the five-story brick office building. The building has been vacant since late December, when the final tenants were forced to leave.

 
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Minor Flooding Reported in District as Region Braces for Icy Blast

January 12, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photos special to Tube City Almanac)

Minor flooding closed several area roadways on Friday morning as the Mon-Yough area braced for another icy blast.

Melting snow, followed by steady rain, caused ponding in low-lying areas, including along Route 837 in Dravosburg.

The unseasonably warm temperatures on Thursday and Friday are expected to be followed by a blast of freezing rain, ice, sleet and snow, which could freeze flooded roadways and make them treacherous.

The National Weather Service in Moon Twp. said Friday that accumulating snow on top of freezing rain was likely to result in "extremely dangerous if not impossible driving conditions" in parts of the region tonight.

The forecast has led several organizations to cancel activities scheduled for Friday night and Saturday morning.

 
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Mortgage Broker Sentenced to More Than 6 Years in Fraud Case

January 10, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A West Mifflin man has been sentenced to more than six years in federal prison for his role in what prosecutors have described as one of the largest mortgage fraud schemes in Western Pennsylvania.

James Nassida IV, 50, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose in federal court in Pittsburgh, said Scott W. Brady, U.S. Attorney, in a prepared statement.

Between 2002 and 2009, Nassida was president of Century III Home Equity in Baldwin. Prosecutors described it as one of the largest mortgage brokerages in the Pittsburgh area, and said it arranged "hundreds of millions of dollars" of home loans with more than a dozen banks.

But prosecutors accused the brokerage --- which advertised that it had "a loan for everyone," including people with "slow or no credit" --- of committing fraud to obtain many of those mortgages.

 
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Judge Gives Former Gun Store Owner Jail Time

January 10, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

The owner of a now-closed Versailles gun store was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for possession of illegal firearms, tampering with evidence and tampering with a witness.

Erik David Lowry, 38, of Versailles also faces a $30,000 fine and three years' probation, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said in a prepared statement.

The sentence was handed down in federal court in Pittsburgh by U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab.

Lowry, who owned Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms on Walnut Street, pleaded guilty to the charges in June 2017. He also pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to illegally selling firearms.

 
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Library Offers Book Discussions, Computer Help in January

January 09, 2018 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Carnegie Library of McKeesport has posted programs for January, including a talk by a local author, a new current affairs discussion group, and the latest installment for its "Reading Social" book club.

For more information about these programs or any event at the library, call (412) 672-0625 or visit www.mckeesportlibrary.org.

All events are at the main library, 1507 Library Ave., unless otherwise noted.

 
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Community Chorus Slates Open House Jan. 21

January 09, 2018 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements, White Oak News

(Submitted photo courtesy Mon Yough Chorale)

Mon Yough Chorale will hold an open house for prospective members from 7 to 9 p.m. Jan. 21 at Sampson's Mills Presbyterian Church, 1665 Lincoln Way, White Oak, a spokeswoman said.

Anyone who enjoys choral singing is invited to attend, including former and current high school and college choir or chorus members, church choir members who want to branch out in the type of music they sing, and former and current music teachers, she said.

 
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35th District Race: Austin Davis

January 08, 2018 |

By Lynne Glover | Posted in: Politics & Elections

Residents of Clairton, Duquesne, Lincoln, McKeesport, Munhall, South Versailles Twp., Versailles, Whitaker, White Oak and parts of West Mifflin will go to the polls on Jan. 23 to select a replacement for former state Rep. Marc Gergely. Tube City Almanac is profiling both of the candidates.

To read about Fawn Walker-Montgomery, click here.


Twenty-eight-year-old Austin Davis says he’s always been interested in service. “I’ve always wanted to be helpful,” says Davis of his interest in politics.

At 16, he was chairman of the Mayor’s Youth Council in McKeesport. “There were not a lot of people that looked like me in terms of diversity,” says Davis, who is African American.

Then—and now—Davis says he would ask himself: “What’s the best way to give back? How can I make the community a better place?”

Davis says running for office was a natural step toward taking public service to the next level for the people he cares about.

 
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35th District Race: Fawn Walker-Montgomery

January 08, 2018 |

By Lynne Glover | Posted in: Politics & Elections

Residents of Clairton, Duquesne, Lincoln, McKeesport, Munhall, South Versailles Twp., Versailles, Whitaker, White Oak and parts of West Mifflin will go to the polls on Jan. 23 to select a replacement for former state Rep. Marc Gergely. Tube City Almanac is profiling both of the candidates.

To read about Austin Davis, click here.


Born and raised in McKeesport, Fawn Walker-Montgomery wasn’t always a Republican.

The 37-year-old, who served as campaign organizer in the Mon Valley during Obama’s presidential run, says she isn’t a Trump supporter either.

She is, however, the first African American woman to run for state legislature in the 35th Legislative District.

She switched parties in 2016 to run against then-incumbent state Rep. Marc Gergely, who subsequently beat her write-in campaign by nearly 6,500 votes, before he pleaded guilty to charges resulting in a sentence of 18 months under house arrest for his role in illegal gambling operations.

 
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Falling Bricks from Executive Building Force Street Closures

January 08, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photos special to Tube City Almanac)


Parts of two Downtown streets remain closed today after a brick pillar fell from the Executive Building.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko hopes the incident, which occurred last week, is the catalyst that convinces its New York owner to either invest in the troubled office building --- now vacant --- or sell it.

The final tenants moved out of the five-story yellow brick building at the end of last year.

"I'm trying to find out if I can find anyone interested in investing in the building," Cherepko said. "We've not been happy about the situation at all."

The bricks that fell into the sidewalk along Ringgold Street appear to be decorative, not structural, Cherepko said. No one was injured and no other damage was reported.

 
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Sub-Zero Temperatures Keeping Emergency Docs 'Extremely Busy'

January 06, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Above: After two weeks of temperatures hovering in single digits, ice has formed all the way across the Youghiogheny River at McKeesport. A warming trend is expected this week. (Almanac photo)


As temperatures rise above freezing for the first time in two weeks, doctors, nurses and support staff at UPMC McKeesport hospital should receive a slight respite.

Between the bitter cold and the flu season "we've been extremely busy," says Dr. Rani Kumar, who chairs the hospital's emergency department. "We're bursting at the seams sometimes, but we're here to help."

According to the National Weather Service, average temperatures in the Mon-Yough area in December were about 4 degrees below normal. As of this weekend, the last time the temperature in the McKeesport region went above freezing was Dec. 25, when the high recorded at Allegheny County Airport was 33 degrees.

Temperatures dropped below zero for four of the first six days of 2018, according to the weather service in Moon Twp. The average temperature so far for January has been 7 degrees.

 
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PurePenn Declared Operational, As Pa. Officials Blast AG Sessions' Policy Change

January 05, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A medical marijuana production facility in McKeesport has been declared operational by the state Department of Health and has permission to begin growing its first plants within 60 days.

But in the meantime, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and state Sen. Jay Costa of Forest Hills are angry at U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his decision --- which was long rumored to be in the works --- to reverse the Obama Administration's guidance on prosecuting federal marijuana laws, including against medicinal users and growers.

April Hutcheson, communications director at the state Health Department, told Tube City Almanac that PurePenn LLC was inspected and deemed operational on Dec. 22.

The facility, located at the RIDC Industrial Center of McKeesport on the former U.S. Steel National Works site, is now cleared to begin growing cannabis plants from either seeds or "clones" --- essentially, cuttings from other plants --- within 60 days.

 
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Former Duquesne Mayor Bids Farewell, Predicts 'Things Will Be Good' for Successor

January 05, 2018 |

By Cami DiBattista | Posted in: Duquesne News

The swearing-in of new Duquesne Mayor Nickole Nesby this week marked the end of Phil Krivacek's 18 years in that office.

Krivacek previously worked for the city as a firefighter and as city clerk for 14 years. Before becoming mayor, Krivacek served as school board president for six years and as a city council member for five years.

The former mayor called himself "fortunate to work with a lot of people who have done their job well.

“I’ve been here all my life and there are a lot of good people in this town that do a lot of good things,” Krivacek said. “I’m sure Mayor Nesby and her incoming council will do great working together for Duquesne and those who live here. Things will be good.”

 
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Bitter Cold Prompts Shelter Announcements, School Closings

January 04, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

(National Weather Service graphic)


McKeesport Area, Clairton, East Allegheny and South Allegheny schools are closed on Friday as bitterly cold temperatures descend on the Mon-Yough region.

The districts, along with Serra Catholic High School and Mary of Nazareth Catholic School, announced closures on Thursday night, though staff in McKeesport Area will be required to report for a so-called "Act 80" in-service day.

According to the National Weather Service in Moon Twp., the Mon-Yough area will be spared the worst of the blizzard that is bearing down on the New York City area. McKeesport can expect "little or no snow accumulation" over the next few days.

But the winds, and the wind chill, are a different story. The weather service has predicted a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit in McKeesport at 6 a.m. Friday, with winds between 13 and 26 mph that will make the temperature feel like -18 degrees Fahrenheit.

 
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Resident, 86, Says City's People Are 'Wonderful'

January 04, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Hall Park resident George Mushalko told McKeesport City Council on Wednesday that he's tired of hearing the community be disparaged by the media. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)


McKeesport resident George Mushalko gave a passionate defense of his hometown on Wednesday night with the vigor and spirit of someone much younger than his own 86 years.

One of five people presented with citations on behalf of the McKeesport Message Committee, Mushalko took objection to only one thing --- Mayor Michael Cherepko's characterization of him as the "epitome" of a caring person.

"I don't think I'm the epitome of a caring person because I've met a lot of wonderful people in McKeesport," said Mushalko, who was honored for upholding the value of "Respect."

 
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Cold Weather Adds to Fire Calls, Concerns About Space Heaters

January 03, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

(Photo courtesy Your Best Digs, licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).)


Bitterly cold weather has led many people to use space heaters to supplement their regular furnace or boiler. But the American Red Cross and local fire officials are warning that those devices can be dangerous.

"We do see a lot of people overloading circuits using space heaters," McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik says. "It's a general cause of fires this time of year. We also see Christmas tree fires this time of year, too. It's a busy time of year for us."

Dan Tobin, regional spokesman for the American Red Cross in Pittsburgh, says the Western Pennsylvania Region of the agency last year assisted 4,000 people in 1,700 disasters over the past 12 months, and most of them were house fires.

Heating equipment fires are the second-leading cause of house fires, Tobin says, and are responsible for about 19 percent of deaths in residential fires.

 
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White Oak Council Sworn In, Elects New President

January 03, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: White Oak News

(All photos: Special to Tube City Almanac by Vickie Babyak.)

White Oak councilmembers and Mayor Ina Jean Marton were sworn in during a special meeting at the borough building on Tuesday night.

Above, Magisterial District Judge Thomas Miller is shown preparing to administer the oath of office to newly elected Councilman George Dillinger, returning Councilman Kenneth Robb, new Councilman Sean Robb and Marton.

Council elected Councilman David Pasternak to serve as president, Councilman Kenneth Robb to serve as vice president and Dillinger to serve as president pro tem.

 
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Blaze Heavily Damages Versailles Ave. Home, Second Also Affected

January 02, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A fast-moving New Year's Day fire has likely destroyed a home in the 3000 block of Versailles Avenue and caused some damage to a neighboring structure.

Five people were displaced by the blaze, according to the American Red Cross.

McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik said a resident of the home called 9-1-1 to report the blaze at 6:54 p.m. Monday. When the first units arrived at the brick, single-family home near the corner of Versailles and Freemont, the first floor was fully engulfed by fire, the chief said.

"It didn't take long before it spread to the second floor," Tomovcsik said. The volume of fire on the first floor slowed firefighters' progress for some time before they could enter the house, he said.

Extremely cold temperatures also made fighting the fire difficult, Tomovcsik said. According to the National Weather Center in Moon Twp., temperatures dropped to 6 degrees Monday night, with a windchill of -11.

 
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