Michael Abraitis III, president of the board of directors of Carnegie Library of McKeesport, cuts a ribbon being held by White Oak Mayor Ina Jean Marton to officially open the facility’s new parking lot Aug. 9. Looking on are state Sen. James Brewster, state Rep. Austin Davis, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko and other library board members. (Vickie Babyak photo, special to Tube City Almanac)
Just a few hours after Carnegie Library of McKeesport cut the ribbon to its new parking lot, all 30 spaces were filled.
“We were all so excited,” said Colleen Rauschenberg Denne, library director, with a laugh.
The $256,000 project answered a long-standing need at the facility in the city’s Seventh Ward, which opened in 1900 with the help of a grant from steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
McKeesport’s library was the 12th of nearly 1,700 Carnegie libraries constructed in the United States during his lifetime.
A STAT MedEvac medical helicopter lands at Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin. The facility is one of the busiest general aviation airports in Pennsylvania, with up to 75,000 takeoffs and landings every year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. (Kevin A. Geiselman photo via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.)
The grant is being made by the state Department of Transportation's Aviation Transportation Assistance Program, Aviation Development Program and Multimodal Fund, state Sen. Jim Brewster said this week.
“Allegheny County Airport is a regional resource that enhances development potential throughout the Mon Valley,” Brewster said. “An improved airport, in addition to the new Mon-Fayette Expressway and other local economic projects, creates business development opportunities for the area.”
Opened in 1931, Allegheny County Airport is the largest general aviation airport in Western Pennsylvania, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Wilmerding Community Center board member Melissa Allenbaugh shows the indoor swimming pool to John Callahan of North Versailles Twp. during the open house held on Aug. 24. The grand opening will take place Sept. 3. (Richard Finch Jr. photo special to Tube City Almanac)
Greg Jakub has been involved in the Wilmerding Community Center project ever since “the YMCA handed me the old keys and closed the door.”
At an open house Saturday at the former Wilmerding YMCA, Jakub, the borough's mayor, said he would like to see people coming to the center to socialize as well as exercise.
“We have people that used to come in here, they didn’t swim, they came to sit and gab and that’s what we want to have happen again,” Jakub said. “All the hard work is finally paying off, but we're still a work in progress and there are things that need to be done.”
The center officially opens to the public on Sept. 3.
(Photo by Mark Dixon, via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons.)
A group of 63 local elected officials --- including state Sen. Jay Costa, state Reps. Austin Davis and Summer Lee, and the mayors of Braddock, Duquesne and East Pittsburgh --- have signed an open letter calling for stricter air pollution regulation and tougher penalties on violators.
The letter --- released Wednesday during a press conference held by an activist group, PennEnvironment --- came two days after U.S. Steel was hit with another federal lawsuit over emissions from its Clairton Plant.
“Allegheny County is a great place to live — but air pollution is threatening residents' health,” says the letter, available on PennEnvironment's website. “Pittsburgh is a beautiful place to live, work and raise a family — but not if the air will make us sick.”
The eighth-annual "Joan Burns Fun Walk 4 Kane" will be held Sept. 14 to raise money for activities for residents of Allegheny County's four Kane skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. at Kane McKeesport, 100 Ninth Ave. at Water Street, and the walk begins at 9:30 a.m. A picnic on the Kane lawn will follow. The first 100 people to register will receive a T-shirt.
The registration fee is $20, but will be waved for anyone who turns in donations and pledges of $50 or more, a spokesperson said.
The wave pools at Boyce Park and South Park will host their fourth-annual “Pooches in the Pool” event from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, a spokesperson said.
During the event, dogs will be permitted to swim in the pools, but they must wear current license and rabies tags to enter the pools, and each dog must be accompanied by at least one guardian. The cost is $15 per dog with up to two guardians, and each additional attendee will be charged $5, the spokesperson said.
LifeSpan’s annual Mon Valley Car Show will be held from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 28 at Olympia Shopping Center, Versailles, a spokeswoman said.
Visitors can enjoy music from WEDO (810) radio personalities Candy and Mike, as well as a jewelry and craft booth, hot dogs and hamburgers, and a stuffed pepper dinner. There are also will be drawings and raffles.
There is a $5 entry fee for show cars. The rain date is Oct. 5. For more information, call Jerry at (412) 310-4646 or Michelle and Marcy at (412) 664-5434.
Jill Moran wants North Versailles Twp. to maintain the right-of-way adjacent to the property she and her husband purchased in January on Diane Drive.
“I own this house and we take (preserving) it very seriously,” she told commissioners at the Aug. 15 meeting. “In March we moved in and have been working hard to maintain the property, especially the yard.”
Moran said she is upset that she received a notice from the township regarding the right-of-way adjacent to her property.
“Some commissioner complained they couldn’t see when they pulled their car out on Diane and Foster, to the right, which is our property,” she said. “I don’t appreciate being welcomed to the township with a complaint that was not accurate.”
The McKnight family is excited to open their church, Kingdom Culture Ministries, with a community day celebration in Renziehausen Park on Sept. 1. From left to right: Joy McKnight, Morgan McKnight, Gabriel McKnight Jr., Pastor Gabriel McKnight Sr. and Maleah McKnight. (Anthony Tabron II photo courtesy Kingdom Culture Ministries)
When Gabe and Joy McKnight first looked at the former Transfiguration of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church, they saw more than an old building with bricks falling from the side.
They saw what they can create inside the 100-year-old church on Sixth Avenue, Downtown. They imagined the families that would fill the pews to hear the lessons brought in a modern Christian style.
“My goals for the church are to simply help people find hope and salvation by spreading the love of Christ and to help shift the stigma on the Christian community,” Joy McKnight said. “We want to be a shoulder and a friend to all.”
The McKnights’ new church, called Kingdom Culture Ministries, will hold a community day open to everyone at 5 p.m. Sept. 1 at Pavilion No. 1 in Renziehausen Park.
The ninth-annual Tour de Mon bike ride will return to the Great Allegheny Passage on Sept. 14.
U.S. Steel has signed on as the presenting sponsor, said Maury Burgwin, executive director of the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the annual trek, which begins and ends at the historic "Pump House" near the Waterfront in Munhall.
“Tour de Mon” is a pleasure ride, not a race. Riders have their choice of going a full 20 miles to Boston and back; 15 miles to McKeesport and back; 10 miles to Pittsburgh's Hot Metal Bridge and back, or eight miles to Duquesne and back.
Six years ago, after an unusually rainy summer, Center Street Extension near the White Oak Farms apartment complex was closed due to unstable ground.
Fast forward to summer 2019, and heavy storms are still causing problems in the borough, this time in the form of flooding.
Residents brought their concerns to White Oak Borough Council at the August meeting. Anton Leppo, who has lived on Kansas Avenue for about one year, is concerned for his home.
“Every time we have a half-decent storm, everything goes down the hillside and into the house,” he said. “The driveway is like a river coming down. I’m going to lose my house because of this. The foundation is only going to hold for so long.”
Above: New fitness equipment is shown as it's being unpacked at the Wilmerding Community Center, located on Ice Plant Hill. (Submitted photo)
Organizers of the new Wilmerding Community Center will hold an open house this Saturday (Aug. 24) to show off the facility --- and hopefully sign up some members.
Located at the former Wilmerding YMCA, which closed in 2018, the facility has been refurbished and features new fitness equipment, a warm-water swimming pool and other amenities, says Gary Nowading, one of the board members of the new non-profit that has taken over the facility.
The open house begins at 10 a.m. with a VIP reception for local elected officials, donors and other invited guests. From 12 noon to 6 p.m., the facility will be open to everyone for tours, Nowading says.
Serra Catholic marching band members focus on drills while perfecting their playing during camp. (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac.)
This year's field shows by the Serra Catholic High School marching band will have a bit of Continental flare.
The band was initially considering a field show that would be themed around foods, but that evolved into a focus on France, said Jesse Bush, marching band director, whose students will be playing and even dancing to tunes ranging from “Work Song/At the End of the Day” from “Les Miserables” to the “Can-Can.”
“Each song in the show represents something from France,” Bush said, with solos by instrumentalists and color guard members.
“I think it’s a very fun show for us to do and, with the French theme, is more theatrical than last year,” said color guard senior Anna Osinski, who is featured as a revolutionary in the excerpt from “Les Miserables.” “The guard girls are playing different parts and there’s a guitar with the pit.”
McKeesport Mayor George H. Lysle (left) in the Pittsburgh Bulletin-Index, Jerome Boulevard sign in 1949 (right) in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
What’s in a name?
For McKeesport, 80 years ago this week, it was nine million Depression-era dollars.
In August 1939, the federal government gave Allegheny County and McKeesport officials an ultimatum — either remove the name of Mayor George H. Lysle from Lysle Boulevard, or repay $9 million in infrastructure loans and grants.
Not surprisingly, the money won out, and McKeesport City Council voted on Aug. 16, 1939, to rename “Lysle Boulevard” as “Jerome Boulevard.”
It remained that way until Lysle died in 1947 — though it was a few years before the “Lysle Boulevard” signs went back up.
State Rep. Austin Davis, who introduced the bill, called it a response both to a Dec. 24 incident at U.S. Steel's Clairton Plant, as well as to a massive fire in June at an oil refinery in Philadelphia.
“These were two incidents that were not only unfortunate but detrimental to the environment and the residents residing in the general vicinity of both sites,” Davis said. “Laws and regulations currently exist to make sure we have clean air and to also monitor industrial sites so that the public is protected from excessive emissions.”
The bill was referred Friday to the state Legislature's Environmental Resources & Energy Committee, where it will likely face a tough road to a vote by the full General Assembly, which is controlled by Republicans.
Although the band Zabava did perform as scheduled in the Jakomas Blue-Top Pavilion at Renziehausen Park, dancing and music on the main stage was called off due to hazardous conditions in the area surrounding Stephen Barry Field.
The planned opening ceremony, as well as fireworks, have been rescheduled for tonight, a spokesperson said. Gates open at 3 p.m. and main stage entertainment is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
Food and most craft booths remained open until 9 p.m. Tuesday, when the gates closed.
CORRECTED after publication to clarify the Renzie Market is a general market, not just a farmer's market. (Aug. 21)
(Photos courtesy Renzie Market via Facebook)
Halfway through its third year, the weekly market at Renziehausen Park is still going strong, even if not everyone in the Mon-Yough area is aware of it.
Joelle Harbert, vice president of the Renzie Market committee, said the current season will wrap up Oct. 12.
Despite being around since 2016, "many of our neighbors have never heard about the market," she said. Located behind the city's No. 2 fire station at the intersection of Eden Park Boulevard and Tulip Drive, the market is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
Family of the late Jimmy Beaumont gathered at Renziehausen Park on Sunday to unveil a new street sign erected in honor of the late lead singer of The Skyliners.
Beaumont's grandchildren had the honor of revealing the sign on stage at the Lions Bandshell before a concert by the remaining members of the vocal group.
Beaumont, who was born in Pittsburgh but lived in McKeesport's Myer Park neighborhood for nearly 50 years, died in 2017 at the age of 76.
"We truly don't take it for granted that we had a star here in the City of McKeesport," Mayor Michael Cherepko said, "and without question as proud as Jimmy was to be a McKeesport resident, as a city, we were every bit as proud to have him here."
Refrigerated trucks are loaded at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in Duquesne. By 2025, the organization hopes to deliver 20 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables each year to people in 11 counties. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)
To make that possible, the Duquesne-based organization is planning a renovation of its facility in the RIDC industrial park that would expand its cold storage area as well as its "cold dock" --- the part of the warehouse where fresh vegetables and fruit are received and repacked for distribution.
For nutritional and health reasons, food banks are moving away from pre-packaged boxed and canned foods and towards fresh foods, said Justin Lee, chief operating officer for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
McKeesport's 60th International Village will kick off with a Village for Kids from 12 to 4 p.m. on Monday (Aug. 12) at the Lions Bandshell in Renziehausen Park.
The family-friendly event is free of charge and will include plenty of food and fun. Activities include crafts, games, and inflatable rides.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to offer something like this for kids in and around the area because it brings everyone together for a day of excitement and fun while getting to know our neighbors,” said organizer Alison Piccolino.
(Tube City Almanac file photo from 2012 by Denise L. Ritter)
CORRECTION: Fireworks are Tuesday, Aug. 13. We apologize for the error.
Renziehausen Park will soon be booming with the tastes, sights and smells of another International Village.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the event, which has been a McKeesport tradition since its inception in 1960. International Village has grown to become the region's largest celebration of ethnic food, heritage and diversity.
This year’s celebration of the city’s distinctive ethnic diversity is slated for Aug. 13, 14 and 15.
“International Village is one of the many wonderful events that brings McKeesporters together, and it’s been a phenomenal success over the past 60 years,” said City Councilman Keith Soles, chairman of the International Village Committee. “Everyone comes together to celebrate years of tradition.
“I think, in addition to the tradition of their individual heritage, folks come out to celebrate the tradition of the Village itself,” he said. “It’s a grand event that truly represents what the McKeesport community has to offer.”
The City of Duquesne is appealing an arbitrator's decision to reinstate a police secretary accused of misusing a criminal justice database.
Lori Achtzehn had worked for the city for more than 40 years before being fired by city council in March 2018.
On June 25, an arbitrator ruled that the firing violated the terms of the city's contract with Teamsters Local 205, which represents Duquesne rank-and-file employees, and ordered Achtzehn reinstated with back pay.
Duquesne believes the arbitrator was wrong and is appealing to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, said Myron Sainovich, city solicitor.
This new home in McKeesport's Library District is one of two that ACTION-Housing has planned in the Library District. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)
A new house built in the city's Library District already has a buyer, and the non-profit agency that oversaw construction is hoping to do more.
Pittsburgh-based ACTION-Housing secured funding for the house through the state with assistance from the city of McKeesport.
“We are planning to reapply for funding in the fall to build a second house in the winter or spring,” said Joe Costa, a housing associate with ACTION-Housing.
The new house, with a list price of $130,000, has three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, one half bathroom and off-street parking. Located at the corner of Bailie and Cornell avenues, the house is also accessible for people with limited mobility.