Kennywood, Other Attractions Reopening

June 30, 2020 |

By Jason A. Mignanelli | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Kennywood employees standing six feet apart demonstrate social distancing. Guests will need to make a reservation to visit the park, which opens July 11. Masks also will be required for most patrons age 3 and older, except on water rides. (Submitted photo courtesy Kennywood)


Just in time for the start of summer — and the arrival of hot and sunny weather in Western Pennsylvania — local attractions are welcoming visitors after many were closed, or delayed their opening days, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kennywood Park in West Mifflin, which usually welcomes guests in early May, will open to the public beginning on July 11 — but at the 121-year-old amusement park and elsewhere, things will look and be quite different this year.

For one thing, advance registration will be required, said Nick Paradise, director of public relations at Kennywood. Guests who want to visit Kennywood must RSVP at the park’s website, kennywood.com. The park also suggests having alternate dates in mind, in case the preferred date is already booked to capacity.

 
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July 4 Fireworks Still Planned in City

June 29, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Fireworks illuminate Gordon Street in McKeesport on July 4, 2019. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)


Although other communities have scrapped their Independence Day fireworks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the show will go on in McKeesport.

However, there will be no city-sponsored activities on the ground in Renziehausen Park, and officials are suggesting people view the fireworks from the safety of their own homes or backyards.

If necessary, Mayor Michael Cherepko said, residents can drive to Renzie but park and stay in their cars.

Because the display can be safely viewed from a distance, Cherepko said, the city “decided all along that we were not going to cancel fireworks.”

 
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Construction Projects Will Affect Traffic Locally

June 29, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Construction projects in Dravosburg and West Mifflin this week will impact local traffic, including a detour on Route 885 and the complete closure of Route 837 for two days.

Work will include final paving on Route 885 (Lebanon Road) Wednesday through Friday, weather-permitting, as well as a closure of Route 837 so that crews can reconstruct the Boswell Oil railroad crossing.

Steve Cowan, district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said paving on Route 885 between Mifflin Road and Noble Drive (near Skyview Volunteer Fire Department) will require a southbound detour from 6 a.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday, and from 6 p.m. Thursday to 8 a.m. Friday.

Northbound traffic will not be affected, Cowan said.

 
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As COVID-19 Cases Set Another Record,
New Restrictions in Place

June 28, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Update: At 7:51 p.m., county officials announced that on-premises liquor consumption must end immediately, but enforcement will not begin until 5 p.m. Tuesday. This story also has been updated with remarks from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.


As COVID-19 cases set another new record high in Allegheny County, officials have announced new restrictions on bars and restaurants and are recommending all travelers self-quarantine for two weeks.

At a press conference Sunday, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said “these are severe steps,” but added, “we’re going in the wrong direction.”

Overnight, 96 new cases were confirmed in Allegheny County overnight, breaking the record of 90 cases set Saturday. Those are the highest numbers since the county first began tracking COVID-19 in March.

Last week, county officials said that through contact tracing, they determined that many new COVID-19 patients had been spending time in bars and restaurants.

 
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International Village Canceled Due to Pandemic

June 27, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Denise L. Ritter photo for Tube City Almanac)


International Village — McKeesport’s signature summer event and one of the largest ethnic festivals in Western Pennsylvania — has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city had been hoping to operate a scaled-down version of the three-day event in Renziehausen Park — offering takeout food only, with no seating and no live entertainment — but Mayor Michael Cherepko said Saturday that vendors surveyed by the village committee were reluctant to participate.

“The vast majority of them weren’t interested in having the village this year in any way, shape or form,” Cherepko said. “They’re concerned about COVID-19 and concerned about having volunteers at their booths.”

It’s the first time in International Village’s 61-year history that the event has been canceled.

 
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Hospital Confirms Seven Cases of COVID-19

June 27, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Kerry Pollard, a microbiologist for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, extracts a sample of SARS-CoV2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, inside a state-operated lab in Exton, Chester County. (Photo courtesy Pennsylvania Department of Health)


Seven cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at UPMC McKeesport hospital, a spokeswoman said Saturday, but it’s unclear if the cases are related or coincidental.

The report comes as officials are warning of a sharp increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 across Allegheny County — many among younger people who recently traveled or who had been visiting bars and restaurants.

Countywide, there were 90 new cases reported Saturday — the biggest single-day jump since the health department began tracking COVID-19 in March.

In a prepared statement, UPMC spokeswoman Sarah Katz said four cases have been identified among patients at UPMC McKeesport and three among employees. The departments where the employees work were not released.

 
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Police Allege Driver Struck Child, Fled Scene

June 23, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A Wilmerding woman is accused of leaving the scene of an accident in which a child suffered minor injuries.

McKeesport police have charged Siddioah L. Sands, 28, with failing to stop and render aid, driving with a suspended license, careless driving and causing an accident while not properly licensed.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 24 before Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi.

Police said two girls were walking home from the store on the evening of June 7 and were attempting to cross Soles Street near Bailie Avenue when a black Ford Explorer drove by, striking one of the children.

 
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Suspect Held in NV Twp. Bank Robbery

June 23, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

(Photo courtesy Allegheny County sheriff’s office)


A North Braddock man was arrested Tuesday in Clairton in connection with the November 2019 robbery of the Huntington Bank branch in Great Valley Shopping Center, North Versailles Twp.

D’el Lamar Mackey, 38, is charged by North Versailles police with robbery and is being questioned by the FBI in Pittsburgh, said a spokesman for the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office. A preliminary hearing has not been scheduled.

Mackey also was indicted June 3 by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh and has been charged with one count of bank robbery, court records indicate. The indictment was unsealed Tuesday.

 
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One Wounded in Evans Ave. Incident

June 22, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

(Updated June 22, 11:30 a.m.)

An unidentified 41-year-old woman is in critical condition at a local hospital following a shooting Sunday night on Evans Avenue.

Allegheny County police said McKeesport police responded to a report of a shooting just after 10:30 p.m. to the 700 block. The victim was suffering from gunshot wounds to the back, arm and leg, a county police spokesperson said, and was hospitalized.

On Monday, county police homicide detectives said the victim was sitting on her porch with other individuals when a man with a mask covering his face walked towards the residence and opened fire, striking the victim.

 
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Police Seek City Woman in Slaying

June 21, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A McKeesport woman is being sought by Allegheny County police in connection with a fatal shooting early Thursday morning.

It was the second homicide in the city in less than four days.

Gabrielle Parker (above), 33, is charged by county police with homicide and carrying a firearm without a license.

 
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Superintendent: Woman’s Death Was Suicide

June 16, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

Carrying signs that said “Black Trans Lives Matter,” demonstrators marched through Downtown McKeesport on June 12. (Kevin Kino video for Tube City Almanac)


The Allegheny County superintendent of police said Monday that a woman who was found dead May 26 outside her apartment on Sinclair Street committed suicide.

County police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said there is no evidence of foul play in the death of Aaliyah Johnson, 32.

In a prepared statement, McDonough said county police generally do not release details of a death investigation “unless there is a related crime or suspicion of a crime,” but because of the intense interest surrounding Johnson’s death, they were making an exception.

 
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Arts Exhibit Debuts as Heritage Center Reopens

June 16, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center reopened to the public last week and debuted a new exhibit, “Arts and Entertainment of the Mon Valley.”

The display features the stories of those artists who have come from the Mon Valley and works of entertainment created in the Mon Valley.

The center is operating at 50 percent capacity and will eventually accommodate a larger percentage of visitors once permitted, said Teresa Trich, community outreach director.

 
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West Mifflin Man Killed in City Shooting

June 16, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A West Mifflin man died Monday night after three men opened fire on him at the Crawford Village housing complex.

The Allegheny County medical examiner’s office said George A. Brosey, 54, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Allegheny County police Lt. Venerando Costa said the shooting happened outside Building 47.

Police said survelliance video shows Brosey walking up the steps of an acquaintance’s apartment just before 11:30 p.m. when he is approached by a man wearing a light-colored hooded sweatshirt, who walks from between the 47 and 48 buildings.

 
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Duquesne Boys & Girls Club Moving to Larger Space

June 14, 2020 |

By Nick Zurawsky | Posted in: Duquesne News

The Boys & Girls Club of Duquesne-West Mifflin will move from its current location on North Third Street to a larger location in the Duquesne Education Center.

The move is part of a new partnership between the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania and the Duquesne City School District, officials said.

Lisa Abel-Palmieri, chief executive officer of BGCWPA, said the location change was scheduled to happen at the end of 2020, but due to budget concerns and lack of visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift has been moved up six months.

The new facility and partnership will expand the scope of BGCWPA services, with twice as many students being able to take part, she said.

 
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Marchers Seek New Inquiry Into Woman’s Death

June 14, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Richard Finch Jr. photo for Tube City Almanac)


More than 300 people marched peacefully through Downtown streets on Friday afternoon to call attention to the plight of a trans woman found dead on Sinclair Street in May.

Friends and family of Aaliyah Johnson, 32, want Allegheny County police to do a more thorough investigation of her death on May 26.

On Thursday, the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office ruled Johnson’s death a suicide, but one of the organizers of the march, Terrance McGeorge, told Tube City Almanac that one of Johnson’s former lovers had threatened to murder her.

 
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Friends Hope March Will Draw Attention to
Plight of Black LGBTQ Community

June 11, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Editor’s Note: This is a developing story and will be updated if necessary.

* Correction, 8 p.m. June 11, 2020


A woman who died in a fall from Midtown Towers was in fear for her life before the incident, a childhood friend said Thursday.

Terrance McGeorge said Aaliyah Johnson, who was transgender, was threatened with murder by a man with whom she had been linked, and who was angry and embarrassed because other people might find out.*

McGeorge, who is one of the leaders of a group called Project Matters, is helping to organize a march that is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Friday at the Jerome Avenue Bridge, proceed past the Public Safety Building on Lysle Boulevard, and end near Johnson’s apartment.

The march is intended to be peaceful, he said. Attendees are being asked to wear blue — Johnson’s favorite color — and to carry a candle. Participants should park in the lot near the McKees Point Marina, he said.

 
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Rally Organizers Seek Answers in Woman’s Death

June 11, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

Clarification: An organizer of the event says the vigil and march will start at the Jerome Avenue Bridge, Downtown, not the 15th Avenue Bridge as was originally reported, and will end near the victim’s apartment on Sinclair Street. The march will not proceed to O’Neil Boulevard. Updated June 11, 2 p.m.


Friends and family of a woman who died May 26 in a fall from a Downtown apartment building plan to march on Friday to call attention to the circumstances surrounding her death.

Organizers claim that Allegheny County police have not adequately investigated the death of Aaliyah Denise Johnson, 32, who was pronounced dead after her body was found on a sidewalk in the 500 block of Sinclair Street.

County police told Tube City Almanac that Johnson is believed to have fallen or jumped from her ninth-floor window at Midtown Towers and that surveillance cameras showed that no one entered or left her apartment before or after the incident.

But Johnson, who was an MC at local events and clubs, and also worked as a hairstylist and makeup artist, had a large social media following. Her friends said she was targeted for harassment and abuse because she was Black and transgender.

 
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Council OK’s Demolition of Vacant Church

June 11, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport city council has approved the demolition of a former Hungarian church just off Evans Avenue.

At the June 3 meeting, council awarded a $77,900 contract to demolish the former St. Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church on Beacon Street to Lutterman Excavating of Greensburg. Lutterman was the lowest responsible bidder, city officials said.

Built in 1900 and 1901 to serve the city’s Hungarian Catholic population, St. Stephen’s closed in 2002 following the death of its longtime pastor, the Rev. Stephen Kato, who had first come to the parish in 1962.

 
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Police Log: Contractor Accused of Fraud

June 10, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

• Arrest records published here were provided by the McKeesport Police Department.
• Not all arrest records are published.
• An arrest does not mean the person identified has been convicted of a crime.
• All people arrested are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

 
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City Seeks Funds for Bike Trail Study

June 10, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport officials are envisioning a day when the regional hiking and biking trail network could be connected to Renziehausen Park, Grandview and other city neighborhoods.

By 6-0 vote, council this month approved an application to the Active Allegheny grant program for $81,000 for a project called “Pedestrian Access to McKeesport’s Trail Systems.”

Administered by the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, the Active Allegheny program provides financial assistance to municipalities to develop bicycle and pedestrian connections from neighborhoods to local destinations, and increase opportunities for residents to get exercise.

 
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Valedictorian Has ‘Commitment to Education’

June 06, 2020 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Rohaan Wasim, this year’s valedictorian, poses with some of the accolades he’s been given by his classmates. (Richard Finch Jr. photo for Tube City Almanac)


Hamida Wasim says she raised her three sons to be “obedient, hard-working, sensible and focused.”

“I like my boys to be well educated and do well in their lives,” she says. “They know what they want in life and how to get it.”

It must be working. All three sons have succeeded academically at McKeesport Area High School. In 2018, her son Zohais was named salutatorian and son Ashar graduated with honors.

This year, her youngest son, Rohaan Wasim, was named valedictorian for the class of 2020. He plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing & Information Sciences in the fall.

 
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New City Councilwoman Takes Oath

June 05, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Jill Lape takes the oath of office Wednesday night from Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi. (Tube City Almanac photo)


A McKeesport Area School District teacher has been appointed to fill a vacant seat on city council formerly held by her late sister.

At Wednesday’s council meeting, Jill Lape was nominated by Councilman Keith Soles and approved by a 5-0 vote of council to complete the term of her sister, Councilwoman Jamie Brewster-Filotei, who died May 12 after battling cancer for nearly three years.

Brewster-Filotei was elected in November 2017 to a four-year term that ends Jan. 1, 2022.

 
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Heritage Center Preparing to Re-Open

June 05, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

(Submitted photo via Facebook)


With Allegheny County moving from the “yellow” phase of COVID-19 restrictions to the “green” phase, McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center has announced plans to reopen to the public.

The geneaology center and history museum, located in Renziehausen Park, has been closed since March.

A spokesperson said the center is planning to reopen to visitors at 10 a.m. June 11 with modifications.

Visitors will be asked to wear masks at all time and to practice social distancing and the schoolhouse will temporarily be closed to the public.

 
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MAHS Seniors Celebrate With Procession

June 04, 2020 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Richard Finch Jr. photo special to Tube City Almanac)


Parents, grandparents and neighbors lined Eden Park Boulevard on Wednesday night to celebrate graduating seniors from McKeesport Area High School.

In lieu of the regularly scheduled commencement, district officials encouraged students to participate in the “senior procession” of cars, trucks and motorcycles from the high school. McKeesport fire and police vehicles led the parade through Renziehausen Park and Penn State Greater Allegheny and back to the corner of Hartman Street and O’Neil Boulevard.

McKeesport Area and other school districts were forced to cancel all in-person classes and activities on March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With some restrictions in Allegheny County being lifted this week, district officials said last month they are still hopeful that a graduation ceremony can be held for seniors on June 30.

More photos follow the jump.

 
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A Family Farm Grows in Haler Heights

June 04, 2020 |

By Emily Pidgeon | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Megan Resnik, sons Carter and Cole, and husband Kevin are the proprietors of CCR Gardens, an urban farm located in the city’s Haler Heights section. (Emily Pidgeon photo for Tube City Almanac)


“Most people have no idea where their food comes from,” says Kevin Resnik of Haler Heights.

But he and his wife, Megan, do. So do their sons, Carter, 7, and Cole, 3.

The Resniks operate CCR Gardens, which is entering its second year of providing McKeesport and surrounding areas with homegrown, organic produce fresh from the Resniks’ hoop-style greenhouses. The garden is named for Carter and Cole Resnik.

Longtime residents and graduates of McKeesport Area School District, the Resniks presently farm about one half-acre of their property and follow the bio-intensive method of gardening.

 
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Duquesne Preparing For Pandemic’s After-Effects

June 04, 2020 |

By Nick Zurawsky | Posted in: Duquesne News

From concerns about student health and education to a looming municipal financial crisis, Duquesne officials are reaching out to local non-profit groups and governmental agencies in preparation for the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The Allegheny Health Network, in partnership with the Duquesne City School District, will administer free COVID-19 tests to Duquesne’s schoolchildren from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday (June 5) at Duquesne Education Center, 300 Kennedy Ave.

The Squirrel Hill Health Council has also worked with Duquesne to administer the tests and is currently scheduling a return, city officials said.

 
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Route 837 R.R. Crossing Repairs Planned

June 04, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Traffic will be stopped Thursday on Route 837 at the Boswell Oil railroad crossing in Dravosburg so that Norfolk Southern railroad crews can make repairs.

A district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation said the work will occur between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., weather-permitting. The traffic stoppages will be brief and flag crews will be on hand to help motorists, the spokesman said.

The work is not being done by PennDOT but the agency is announcing it as a public service, he said.

 

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