Volunteers Prepare Smaller Festival of Trees

November 30, 2020 |

By Kristen Keleschenyi | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Tube City Almanac file photo)

McKeesport’s Festival of Trees is coming together at the Jacob Woll Pavilion in Renziehausen Park—though smaller than in previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual event, a staple of the holiday season for the past 35 years, is scheduled to open to the public from 2 to 8 p.m. daily Dec. 3 through 7.

“We will do our best to continue this tradition—boosting our community’s morale and holiday spirit while respecting COVID-related guidelines and recommendations,” McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko says.

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Gobble Giveaway Held At EA

November 26, 2020 |

By Kristen Keleschenyi | Posted in: North Versailles Twp. News

Ma's Pantry volunteers Louise Beswick, Catie Sickler and Edward Sites, president, helped distribute the boxes of non-perishable food items part of the East Allegheny Gobble Giveaway. (Kristen Keleschenyi photo for Tube City Almanac)

East Allegheny School District collaborated with numerous community organizations to provide food, flu shots, clothing and school supplies to hundreds of local families at a Gobble Giving event held at the junior-senior high school on Monday.

Organizations on hand included the Allegheny County Health Department, Communities in Schools, Ma’s Pantry, Duquesne University School of Pharmacy, Turtle Creek Community Services, Auberle, and Nutrition Inc. Seventy percent of students that attend East Allegheny schools qualify for free or reduced lunches.

“There is a high level of food insecurity in the Mon Valley,” says Melanie Readal, public health administrator for the Allegheny County Health Department,  “that's why a lot of times when we do events where we do work with our community partners and municipalities that we encourage food distribution just to make sure that we're decreasing the stigma around food insecurity.”

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Mayor Hopeful For Solution Over Club’s Closing

November 26, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko is hopeful that an “amicable solution” can be reached that prevents the city’s 75-year-old LaRosa Boys & Girls Club from closing.

Meanwhile, state corporation records hint that a new organization is being formed to help sustain the club.

On his Facebook page, Cherepko said that on Tuesday, along with State Sen. Jim Brewster and State Rep. Austin Davis, he had a video conference call with leaders of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania to discuss the future of the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club on Ravine Street.

“I am very pleased with the meeting and wholeheartedly believe we will be able to reach an amicable solution that will allow us to serve our community in one way or another at the club’s current location,” Cherepko said.

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Reader’s Viewpoint: LaRosa Club Should Go to City

November 25, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Letters to the Editor

Donna Strangis Dowd writes about the announcement that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania intends to close the LaRosa of McKeesport Clubhouse:

I was greatly dismayed upon reading about the recent closure of the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club by Lisa Abel-Palmieri, chief executive officer.

There have been several attempts over the past two years to work with her to ensure the continued success of the club that Mr. Sam LaRosa created — literally from the ground up — 75 years ago. All of the efforts of the board and directors have fallen on deaf ears.

The club was not running at a deficit — it had a waiting list of children to take advantage of the programs and activities that were being offered by the club. So I have to ask, what is the true meaning behind the closure of a club that has a rich, storied 75-year past in the McKeesport community?

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Brewster, Ziccarelli Race Still Too Close to Call

November 24, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld Allegheny County’s decision to count absentee and mail-in ballots that were signed, but not dated.

The 4-3 decision Monday affects ballots in both Allegheny and Philadelphia counties — and is crucial in the 45th Senatorial District race between state Sen. Jim Brewster, McKeesport Democrat, and challenger Nicole Ziccarelli, Lower Burrell Republican.

Brewster and Ziccarelli were tied last week as Westmoreland County officials continued to review disputed ballots. On Monday, after additional ballots were reviewed, accepted and counted in Westmoreland, Ziccarelli moved into a 4-vote lead out of 131,968 votes cast, according to reports posted on the county’s website.

If Allegheny County now counts and certifies its remaining 2,349 ballots, Brewster would move into a 96-vote lead, according to public figures available on the election board’s website.

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St. Sava Taking Orders For Dec. 4 Fish Fry

November 23, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church is taking orders now for a fish fry Dec. 4.

Spokeswoman Dorothy Ikach said all orders must be placed in advance. The deadline is Wednesday (Nov. 25). No sales will be made on the day of the event.

The fish fry comes on the heels of the church’s recent “Small Taste of Serbia” takeout event, Ikach said.

The menu includes hand-breaded haddock on a hard roll. A la carte items include halushki (sauteed cabbage and noodles), Spanish rice, French fries, sauerkraut and bean soup, apple strudel, and palachinke (cheese filled crepes).

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Library Limits Services Due to COVID Advisory

November 23, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

UPDATE: On Monday, Carnegie Library of McKeesport announced that no computer use will be permitted.

(Submitted photo via Facebook)

Carnegie Library of McKeesport is temporarily limiting some in-person services due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County.

Beginning this week and continuing for at least two weeks, no browsing or in-person programming will be permitted inside the library or the White Oak branch, said Vincent D’Alesio, acting director.

The temporary restrictions are designed to comply with the Allegheny County Health Department’s “stay-at-home” advisory.

“This service model will be reviewed for changes in two weeks,” D’Alesio said. “We apologize for any inconvenience.”

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800 Receive Turkeys During Saturday Giveaway

November 22, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

State Rep. Austin Davis greets a visitor during Saturday’s event. (Submitted photo)

Eight hundred Mon Valley families received free Thanksgiving turkeys and ingredients for side dishes during a giveway Saturday morning at McKeesport Area High School.

The giveaway was held as a drive-through event to ensure social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. McKeesport police helped direct traffic as cars waited along Eden Park Blvd.

The giveaway was arranged by Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and state Rep. Austin Davis of McKeesport. Volunteers loaded boxes into the back seats and trunks of cars “bucket-brigade” style in the parking lot of Tiger Stadium.

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LaRosa Grandson ‘Disheartened’ By Club’s Closing

November 20, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport’s Boys & Girls Club bears the names of both founder Sam LaRosa and benefactor Walter C. Shaw Sr. (Tube City Almanac photo)

The grandson of the founder of the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club is surprised and disappointed by the parent organization’s decision to close the 75-year-old institution on Ravine Street.

Don Michel of Cranberry Twp., whose grandfather, the late Samuel R. LaRosa, founded the club in 1945, served on the board of directors of Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania for more than 10 years, until July 1.

Michel, who had also served as vice chair of the board for the past five years, said the relationship between the Pittsburgh-based parent organization and the suburban clubhouses has been deteriorating.

“What I see is a shift away from operating brick and mortar facilities that carry high levels of overhead, and trying to shift to operating in somebody else’s facilities,” Michel said Friday. “So we’re no longer a safe place for kids to gather. We’re a provider of programming.”

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Fido Walk Kicks Off Saturday Morning

November 20, 2020 |

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

Bella, 8, canine companion of Autumn and Dan Dougherty, models a sweater for tomorrow’s “Fido Walk.” (Submitted photo)

White Oak Rotary Club will host a “fido walk” at 10 a.m. Saturday to raise money for the White Oak Safe Animal Haven.

Rotary member Dan Dougherty said the fundraiser is designed to replace the “Fido Ball” gala usually held in November.

“With COVID-19, that naturally couldn’t happen, so we came up with the idea of a 5K to replace it this year, and call it the Fido Walk,” Dougherty said. “Folks are invited to bring their dogs to walk with them if they’d like, as long as they’re under control and cleaned up after.”

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Mother, Kids Escape After Teen Shoots Car

November 20, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A McKeesport woman and her two children escaped serious injury after a teen-ager shot at their car on Market Street, city police said.

The suspect, Michael Singleton, 18, of McKeesport, thought he was shooting at one of his rivals, according to a police report.

Singleton is suspected of being in a street gang, police said. He is being held in the Allegheny County Jail without bond pending formal arraignment Jan. 8 in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

According to a report, the victim stopped for a stop sign at the intersection of Market Street and 13th Avenue at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 25 when she heard gun shots, and the back window of her car shattered.

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Man Jailed Following Dravosburg Shooting

November 20, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A McKees Rocks man is being held in the Allegheny County Jail after McKeesport police said he fired a shot into the floor of his girlfriend’s Dravosburg apartment and threatened to kill her.

Cody W. Pehm, 25, is charged with recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats, discharging a firearm into an occupied structure, simple assault and possession of a controlled substance following the incident Monday night.

Magisterial District Judge James A. Motznik ordered Pehm held without bond pending a preliminary hearing Dec. 3 before Magisterial District Judge Richard D. Olasz Jr.

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Senate Race Tied as Count Continues

November 19, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

The race between state Sen. Jim Brewster and challenger Nicole Ziccarelli is now tied at 65,978 votes each.

As of Wednesday, Brewster, a McKeesport Democrat, had been leading Ziccarelli, Republican of Lower Burrell, by 28 votes. Brewster is seeking re-election to his third full term representing the 45th Senatorial District.

Westmoreland County on Thursday counted additional provisional and mail-in ballots that had been held for further review. The count added 141 votes for Brewster and 169 for Ziccarelli.

Another court hearing is scheduled on Friday before Westmoreland County Judge Harry Smail Jr. regarding the remaining provisional ballots that have not yet been counted.

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City Angry, Frustrated at LaRosa Club’s Closing

November 19, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Announcements

(Google Maps image)

City officials, parents and volunteers are blasting a decision by the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania to close the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club on Ravine Street.

The Pittsburgh-based organization notified McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko of the closing in a letter to city hall on Wednesday, and with a posting on its website.

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Lisa Abel-Palmieri, president and chief executive officer of BGCWPA, called the closure a “merger” of the Duquesne and McKeesport programs, and blamed it on declining attendance in McKeesport and the high cost of overhead, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Cherepko and two former directors of the LaRosa club said Abel-Palmieri’s statements are not accurate.

“That story in the Post-Gazette made me sick,” said City Administrator Tom Maglicco, who served as executive director of the club for 13 years and sits on its advisory board. “In my opinion, she’s wrong. There is no doubt in my mind there’s enough kids in this community to fill that club.”

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Pa. Supreme Court Asked for Ruling
on 45th District Senate Race

November 18, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

EDITED to clarify that the current totals do not reflect the disputed absentee ballots.

The future of Pennsylvania’s 45th Senatorial District is now in the hands of the state Supreme Court.

Republican Nicole Ziccarelli of Lower Burrell on Wednesday afternoon filed an emergency petition asking the state’s highest court to use its powers of “extraordinary relief” to rule that 2,349 of Allegheny County’s absentee ballots are invalid and cannot be counted.

State Sen. Jim Brewster, McKeesport Democrat, currently holds a 28-vote lead over his challenger, Ziccarelli. Brewster is seeking re-election to his third four-year term.

The Allegheny County Board of Elections voted 2-1 to accept the ballots, which were signed by voters but not dated. The ballots have not yet been counted.

On Wednesday morning, Allegheny County Judge Joseph M. James upheld the board’s decision.

“In light of the fact that there is no fraud, a technical omission on an envelope should not render a ballot invalid,” he wrote in his decision. “These ballots must be counted.”

Ziccarelli’s attorneys also are appealing James’s decision in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.

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Salvation Army Receives $2K Food Gift

November 16, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko helps unload $2,000 in food donated to the local Salvation Army by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Local Mormons have donated more than $2,000 in non-perishable food to McKeesport’s Salvation Army.

The gift, from the Pleasant Hills Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, comes as the Salvation Army is worried that this year’s “Red Kettle” campaign may come up thousands of dollars short.

Church members delivered the food gift on Thursday. Jeff Miracle of Mt. Lebanon, president and first counselor of the church’s Pittsburgh West Stake, said the congregation is working to build its relationship with the surrounding community.

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Duquesne Church Plans Thanksgiving Dinners

November 15, 2020 |

By Jason A. Mignanelli | Posted in: Announcements, Duquesne News

Christ Soul Saving Station Church, 1013 Kennedy Ave., Duquesne, will provide free Thanksgiving dinners to families in need on Nov. 21.

Bishop David Queen, senior pastor, said volunteers from the church will deliver the meals safely. To schedule a delivery, call (412) 689-3955.

Residents in need of a hot meal also may visit the church between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Nov. 21, Queen said.


Store’s Closure Highlights Food Desert Problem

November 15, 2020 |

By Jason A. Mignanelli | Posted in: Duquesne News

The closure of Duquesne’s only supermarket highlights the larger problems, caused by poverty, that plague residents of the Mon Valley, social justice advocates said on Saturday.

During a meeting outside the recently closed Save-a-Lot store on Duquesne Boulevard, advocates said the loss of the supermarket is having a severe impact on city residents who don’t have cars and must rely on public transit.

About 65 to 70 people gathered, with organizers repeatedly reminding those in attendance to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Krystle Knight, an organizer with Pittsburgh’s Thomas Merton Center, said despite all of the hype around the recent presidential election, it will produce relatively little day-to-day change for Duquesne residents.

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Weight Limits Posted on Dravosburg Hill

November 11, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Weight restrictions have been posted on a portion of Dravosburg Hill due to the conditions of one of the overpasses.

Steve Cowan, district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the bridge that crosses the Union Railroad tracks near Sandy Lake is restricted to trucks weighing no more than 22 tons, or combination vehicles up to 27 tons.

Warning signs were posted on Richland Avenue and Pittsburgh-McKeesport Boulevard last week.

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Bridge Ramp Closed Through Nov. 27

November 11, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

The ramp from the south end of the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge to Fifth Avenue in the city’s East End will remain closed through at least Nov. 27 so that crews can repair damaged concrete and expansion joints.

The closure began Wednesday. East Fifth Avenue also serves as state Route 148 between Downtown McKeesport and Route 30.

Steve Cowan, district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the work is being done by Michael Facchiano Contracting of Mt. Lebanon.

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Davis, Food Bank Slate Turkey Giveaway Nov. 21

November 11, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

About 700 Mon-Yough area families will receive free Thanksgiving dinners with the help of state Rep. Austin Davis, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Turkeys, boxes of stuffing and potatoes as well as canned gravy, cranberry sauce, vegetables and sweet potatoes will be distributed from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Nov. 21 at McKeesport Area High School, 1960 Eden Park Blvd.

Registration is required. Call (412) 460-3663 ext. 655 or visit pittsburghfoodbank.org/get-help/drive-up to register. The deadline is 5 p.m. Nov. 19.

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Pisciottano, Davis Leading in Early Returns

November 05, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

State Rep. Austin Davis appears to be headed to his second full term in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, while Nick Pisciottano of West Mifflin is the favorite to replace retiring state Rep. Bill Kortz.

According to unofficial returns from the Allegheny County Elections Division, with all 84 precincts reporting, Davis, a Democrat from McKeesport, received 19,704 votes. Davis was facing a write-in campaign from Don Nevills of Clairton.

The county said 1,643 write-in votes were recorded. All of the numbers are still subject to change and have not yet been certified by county officials.

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Brewster Trailing Challenger in 45th District

November 05, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

State Sen. Jim Brewster is one of several Democratic legislators in Pennsylvania who are trailing their challengers following Tuesday’s election.

With all precincts in both Allegheny and Westmoreland counties reporting Thursday night, Republican Nicole Ziccarelli was leading Brewster, the 45th Senatorial District incumbent, by about 1,500 votes, 63,058 to 61,515.

According to Allegheny County officials, more than 35,000 absentee ballots still need to be reviewed on Friday.

County spokeswoman Amie Downs said Thursday those ballots include approximately 29,000 that were incorrectly printed by a vendor, and had to be re-issued, as well as ballots that were damaged and could not be electronically scanned.

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EA Delays Full School Opening Until December

November 02, 2020 |

By Kristen Keleschenyi | Posted in: North Versailles Twp. News

East Allegheny School Board will delay the district's transition from remote to hybrid learning until Dec. 7.

Superintendent Alan Johnson recommended the extension in light of the current spike in COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County and to allow for “quarantine time” between the Thanksgiving holiday and the school reopening in the middle of the second nine weeks.

EA’s first nine-week grading period came to a close on Oct. 28.

Allegheny County remains in the moderate range, less than 100 cases per 100,000 residents, which allows for either hybrid or remote learning.

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Carrie Furnace Slates Year’s Final Drive-In Films

November 02, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

(Submitted photo)

Rivers of Steel National Historic Site, located at the end of the Rankin Bridge in Swissvale, will hold its final “Carrie Carpool Cinema” at the Carrie Furnaces on Friday and Saturday, a spokesperson said.

On Friday, Carrie Carpool Cinema will show “Blade Runner” (R) at 6 p.m. and “Repo Man” at 8:15 p.m.

Saturday’s films are “Do The Right Thing” (R) at 6 p.m. and “The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh” (PG) at 8:25 p.m.

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OK, Voters: Time to Vote

November 02, 2020 |

By Bill Phillips | Posted in: Politics & Elections

(Prachatai illustration, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

OK, Tube City Online readers — as Jeff Probst from “Survivor” would say, “it is time to vote.”

All Allegheny County polling places are expected to be open on Tuesday. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. By law, anyone in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

To find your polling place, visit this website and enter your address.

Poll workers will be provided masks, gloves, face shields and hand sanitizer. Additionally, there will be clear plastic shields at the sign-in tables. There will also be cleaning materials at the polling place, tape to mark off six-foot distances for voters waiting in line, and extra staff to help enforce the provisions.

Voters will be asked to wear a face covering in compliance with the state order. Those who arrive without a face covering will be offered one.

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Radio Was Born in Mon Valley 100 Years Ago

November 02, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Editorial Cartoons, History

The Mon Valley — at least the Turtle Creek Valley portion of it — has a very real claim to being the “birthplace of commercial broadcasting.”

One hundred years ago tonight, on the roof of the Westinghouse Electric factory in East Pittsburgh (above), KDKA began operations as the world’s first commercially licensed radio station, broadcasting to the general public.

(That facility — visible from the George Westinghouse Bridge, which carries Route 30 from North Versailles Twp. to East Pittsburgh — is now RIDC’s Keystone Commons.)

KDKA (also, apparently, known for a short time as “8ZZ”) signed on Nov. 2, 1920, as part of an experimental nationwide hookup of radio stations that broadcast the returns of the presidential election between Republican Warren G. Harding and Democrat James Cox.

Radio stations had been licensed before 1920. But those stations were operated for limited audiences. Some, for instance, were operated by the military, or by companies sending and receiving messages between ships and shore. Others were operated by hobbyists — “amateurs,” or “hams.”

KDKA was the first station that was intended to be used by the general public to receive entertainment and news.  But it had its roots in one of those “hams” — an engineer from Wilkinsburg, Pa., named Frank Conrad, who worked in the Westinghouse factory in East Pittsburgh ... read on ...

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