White Oak officials discussed a number of ongoing projects at their April 12 workshop meeting, chiefly concerning infrastructure and vehicle maintenance.
In his engineer’s report, Councilman Kenneth Hillman announced that funds have been secured for repairing the Center Street extension, and that the renovations to Lincoln Way will cost less than expected.
“The wall specs for the Center Street extension will be finalized on May 13. We’re also making sure that the crossings and road markings on Lincoln Way comply with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act),” Hillman said.
Hillman also announced plans to build a new walkway at Heritage Hill Park, along with eight new benches, ADA accessibility, and rubber mulch ground cover. Councilwoman Julie Opferman also supported the idea of adding pickleball, hockey or basketball courts.
Delivery vans serve as floral coolers at the temporary location for Lea's Floral Shop on Chicora Street in East McKeesport. The store will set up temporarily at this building. The business was gutted April 10 by a fire that also displaced one resident. (Kristen Keleschenyi photo)
Monday will mark the reopening of Lea’s Floral Shop in East McKeesport, a little more than one week after a fire destroyed the majority of their inventory and two of their floral coolers.
Their building on Fifth Avenue will have to be gutted as they prepare to rebuild but luckily, they found the perfect spot, the East McKeesport Senior Citizen Community Center, just two blocks away, to serve as a temporary location.
“The Thursday before the fire they (East McKeesport Borough Council) decided not to rent this out because of COVID-19. You’re only allowed 45 people in here, everybody would have to be in masks and you have to police everything,” says Mary Lechliter-King, owner of Lea’s Floral Shop, who approached borough council members about the possibility of the building being their temporary storefront.
“The borough had a meeting and we offered them the rent. They get business privilege tax so we pay that too. It’s a win-win.”
Volunteers are needed for a neighborhood clean-up day in the city’s library and cultural district.
A spokeswoman for the Carnegie Library of McKeesport said volunteers should meet at 10 a.m. Saturday (April 17) at the parking lot of the library.
The activity is tied to Earth Day, which will be celebrated on April 22, and will be held outdoors. Social distancing rules will be in place and light refreshments will be served, the spokeswoman said.
A Clairton man died following a crash early Friday morning near the intersection of North Second Street and Route 837 in Duquesne.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victim as Ralpheal Franz Greene, 30. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Allegheny County police said Greene was thrown from the vehicle following the crash. An unidentified juvenile passenger in the car was taken to the hospital and was reportedly in stable condition.
County police homicide detectives and the Collision Reconstruction Unit are investigating. Anyone with information about the crash is being asked to call the county police tip line at 1-833-ALL-TIPS. Callers can remain anonymous.
Duquesne residents will have the chance to see their candidates for mayor during an online debate at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday (April 20).
According to the Allegheny County Elections Division, five people are currently seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor of the city, including Councilman R. Scott Adams, Councilman Timothy Caldwell, Charles Morgan IV, incumbent Mayor Nickole Nesby and Councilwoman Elaine Washington.
No candidates have registered to run for mayor in the Republican primary, the division said.
The debate will be presented on Zoom. The meeting ID number is 827 4836 1032 and the passcode is 222910. Persons without Internet access may participate by telephone by calling (312) 626-6799, (646) 558-8656 or (301) 715-8592, and entering the same ID number and passcode.
The primary election is May 18. The last day to register to vote in the primary is May 3. Mayors are elected for a four-year term.
An architect’s rendering shows what In City Farms’ Duquesne facility will look like. Construction is expected to begin soon. (Submitted image courtesy In City Farms)
When businessman Paul Schink learned that In City Farms aquaponics plant was slated to be built in Duquesne, he said it would mean “more customers and more traffic” for his store, Schink’s Hardware, and other local businesses. His father founded Schink’s Hardware in 1945 and he began working at the store in 1959.
Schink, who witnessed Duquesne’s industrial decline over the last few decades, is glad for new industry to come to the area.
This spring, In City Farms is breaking ground in RIDC’s Industrial Center of Duquesne business park, located on the former U.S. Steel Duquesne Plant.
The 25-acre development is a 175,000-square-foot aquaponic plant dedicated to growing vegetables such as bok choy, collard greens and mixed salad greens and raising fish.
West Newton Library, 124 N. Water St., will hold a jewelry and “fill-a-bag” book sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 24 in the parking lot, a spokesperson said.
All visitors will be asked to practicing social distancing and to wear masks. Library volunteers said that more than two years’ worth of donations of gently used books have been sanitized and quarantined, and will be on sale.
Parking will be available at the West Newton Senior Center or other nearby spaces. For more information, call (724) 633-0798.
The Allegheny County Police Department will participate in the federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Take-Back Initiative being held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 24, a spokesperson said.
This is the DEA’s 20th bi-annual event focused on offering an opportunity for the public to surrender expired, unwanted or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications to law enforcement officers for destruction.
Any over-the-counter, controlled substance or prescription-required drugs can be dropped off. Tables, capsules, ointments, creams and liquids will be accepted in packaging. There is no need to take medicines out of the original package or container. Sharps and syringes cannot be accepted due to safety reasons, the county said.
Marsha Watkiss of Jeannette, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, helps to clean a grave Long Run Cemetery in North Huntingdon. The McKeesport chapter, named for Queen Alliquippa, celebrated its 110th anniversary this past weekend. (Submitted photo)
Few organizations can celebrate more than a century of existence. Even fewer in Western Pennsylvania are comprised of people who can trace their lineage to the American Revolution.
On Saturday, members of the Queen Alliquippa Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution celebrated their 110th anniversary with a tea social.
Their special guest was Elizabeth Watkins, state leader — or “regent” in DAR parlance — who updated the local group about her efforts to restore a window at the Valley Forge Tower that honors Robert Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution, and one of Pennsylvania’s first U.S. senators.
Founded in 1890 and incorporated by an act of Congress in 1896, the DAR is an organization of women 18 years and older who can prove they are descendants of any “patriot” who supported the American Revolution.
Whether new to the cast, returning to the same roles they were ready to play in 2020, or in totally different roles this year, McKeesport Area High School students are in final rehearsals for “Disney’s The Little Mermaid.” (Submitted photo courtesy Carolyn Carreiro)
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 29, Friday, April 30, and Saturday, May 1, with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on May 1. (Note: Performances must be watched when they’re being streamed. There will be no re-broadcast.)
Tickets: $20 per device
“Disney’s The Little Mermaid” was supposed to be the final spring musical for McKeesport Area High School producer Carolyn Carreiro back in 2020.
But then Covid-19 came along and changed her plans.
“Last year was supposed to be my last musical as producer,” she said. “With the pandemic, no one else was hired and I said I would step up one more time. This year was so different with the logistics of streaming the show, that it would have been a nightmare for a new producer to deal with.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched resources in school districts across the nation, creating deficits in funding, access to education, and access to resources. For schools in the Mon Valley, however, there is some aid on the way.
State Rep. Austin Davis announced on March 30 that an estimated $41.1 million in federal funding has been allocated to districts across the Mon Valley to help them reopen safely and address learning losses as students and teachers return to classrooms.
The McKeesport Area School District will receive $16.9 million.
“We are thankful to have those funds,” said Mark Holtzman Jr., district superintendent. “I don’t know what we would’ve done without them.”
Other districts receiving funds include:
• Clairton City School District — $4.96 million • Duquesne City School District — $4.81 million • East Allegheny School District — $4.82 million • South Allegheny School District — $3.4 million • Steel Valley School District — $5 million • West Mifflin Area School District — $5.95 million
Residents who challenged McKeesport city council’s decision to close its January meeting finally got a chance to speak their minds.
At Wednesday’s city council meeting, which was streamed over the Internet, eight people asked to enter comments into the official record. Four were from McKeesport. One of the others was Allegheny County Councilwoman Olivia Bennett.
Comments were received in writing from three of the four people, including former McKeesport Councilwoman V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery, Janina Riley and Courtney Thompkins, who sued McKeesport City Council after the Jan. 6 meeting was closed to the public.
All of the comments criticized police behavior during the Dec. 20 search for Koby Lee Francis, the 22-year-old suspect accused of shooting McKeesport police Officer Jerry Athans.
The Crossing Bridges Summit began in 2017 and has become a signature program at the McKeesport’s Penn State campus. Its purpose is to bring students, faculty, staff and community members together and to bridge racial divides in the Mon Valley.
This year’s summit considered issues raised in the 2019 report, “Pittsburgh’s Inequality Across Gender and Race.”
Rev. Earlene Coleman, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, speaks to members of the media Wednesday. Also shown are Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, state Sen. Jim Brewster, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Allegheny County Health Department Director Debra Bogen. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)
The COVID-19 vaccine shortages and website crashes that frustrated Pennsylvania residents in January and February are not likely to be repeated, Gov. Tom Wolf said in McKeesport on Wednesday.
Joined by city, county and state elected officials, Wolf visited the city to tour a vaccination clinic set up in the fellowship hall of Bethlehem Baptist Church on Walnut Street, Downtown.
“By the second week in May, we should have reached the point where at least one dose will have reached everybody who wants the shot,” Wolf said.
The biggest issue is the number of people who remain reluctant to be vaccinated, he said — which is where churches like Bethlehem Baptist can help.
I wanted to write a quick note about the audio feed of Wednesday’s council meeting, and apologize and take responsibility for some technical problems.
I know there was intense interest in the meeting because of the lawsuit filed over access, and because residents wanted to address the Dec. 20 manhunt for a suspect accused of shooting a police officer.
We did hear from several people during the meeting that they were having trouble hearing, or that the audio was dropping out, and I apologize.
There was no intention to censor anyone’s remarks. We worked as quickly as we could to rectify the problems in real time.
Accepting this year’s $100,000 payment toward the city’s neighborhood assistance program are Melissa Ernst, secretary of the McKeesport redevelopment authority; city Councilman Jim Barry; A.J. Tedesco, community development director and executive director of the redevelopment authority; McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko; Evan Zuverink, community reinvestment act officer for First Commonwealth Bank; Scott Vidovich, market leader for First Commonwealth Bank; Kristen Lupari, White Oak branch manager; Paul Sturgess, member of the redevelopment authority; and Stu Wilson, president of the redevelopment authority. (Submitted photo)
First Commonwealth Bank has donated its former Downtown location to the city’s redevelopment authority.
Jonathan Longwill, vice president and media relations specialist for the Indiana, Pa., based bank, said the building at 225 Fifth Ave. has been donated to facilitate ongoing redevelopment work in McKeesport’s central business district.
Opinions expressed in editorials and commentaries are those of their authors, and are not those of Tube City Community Media Inc., its board of directors, volunteers, contributors or donors. Responsible replies are welcome.
Eastland Mall in North Versailles Twp., located on a hill overlooking McKeesport and Duquesne, was demolished more than a decade ago. The mall is rumored to become the site of a new Amazon.com distribution center. (Photo by Jacob via Flickr, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)
More than a decade after the demolition of Eastland Mall in North Versailles Twp., a developer is planning to build a distribution center on the property, reportedly for Amazon.com.
Most people in this area can probably remember Eastland Mall, which closed permanently in 2005. When the mall first opened in 1963, its major tenants were department stores such as Gimbels and J.C. Penney Co.
Some might even remember that the North Versailles Library was in that mall. I recall regularly going to the library with my mother and sister to pick out books.
Infrastructure projects in the city, Clairton, Duquesne and Munhall are the latest recipients of funding from Allegheny County’s Community Infrastructure & Tourism Fund.
Projects awarded funds in the most recent round of grants include $250,000 for renovations to the People’s Building, Downtown McKeesport, including replacement of the heating system; and $100,000 for replacement of a water line on South Fifth Street, Duquesne, between Kennedy and Priscilla avenues.
CITF grants provide financial assistance to municipalities, councils of government, non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses to facilitate economic development projects in Allegheny County.
White Oak Mayor Ina Jean Marton enjoys the company of Luke and Chewie during a 2019 fundraiser for the White Oak Animal Safe Haven. Marton has retired as director of the shelter after 18 years. (Tube City Almanac file photo by Cami DiBattista)
After 18 years and 16,000 dogs and cats rescued, Ina Jean Marton has retired from her role as director of the White Oak Animal Safe Haven.
“I’d been planning it for six to eight months. After 18 years, I felt like it was time to enjoy my life,” said Marton, who also serves as White Oak borough mayor.
Shelter vice president Laura Massie has taken over as director. She expressed optimism about the shelter’s future.
“We’re building a catio (cat exercise area) and renovating our office,” she said. “We’re also bringing in new volunteers and brainstorming ideas for fundraisers. I just want to do whatever I can to make the shelter successful — especially with kitten season coming up.”
Editor’s Note: The writer has a conflict of interest. Branden Kucich is the writer’s second cousin. This article was written after initial interviews with Branden and Heather Kucich in April 2018 and follow-ups in March and April 2021 once the Centennial School project broke ground.
The former Centennial School opened for the 1921-22 term at the corner of Beaver Street and Union Avenue. The building is being turned into senior citizen apartments. (Submitted photo courtesy Kucich Construction)
Nearly a century after the new Centennial School in McKeesport opened its doors to local students in the fall of 1921, the historic building will soon welcome a new class of seniors.
Branden Kucich, 38, and his wife Heather, 37, of North Huntingdon Twp., have added to their growing portfolio of rental properties in McKeesport and White Oak by purchasing the defunct elementary school and transforming its empty classrooms into senior living apartments.
The Kuciches’ project will not only return a longtime tax-exempt property to the city’s tax rolls but also add to a recent trend of building restorations in McKeesport.
Where: East Allegheny High School courtyard, 1150 Jacks Run Road, North Versailles Twp.
When: 8 p.m. April 15 and 16, 2 p.m. April 17
Tickets: Must be purchased in advance at easd.booktix.com. No tickets will be sold at the door.
Nate Perez, Bryce Schmeltz, Kalei Getsy, Passion Paillett and Madison Rucker are “Walking Like An Egyptian” in “The Awesome ’80s Prom.” (Kristen Keleschenyi photo for Tube City Almanac)
Crimp that hair and grab some pink eyeshadow.
East Allegheny High School is going back to the ’80s with its spring musical, “The Awesome ’80s Prom.” The show aims to give audiences the experience of living in a classic John Hughes style movie.
"Take some ‘Ferris Bueller,’ and some ‘Breakfast Club,’ some ‘16 Candles’ and ‘Pretty in Pink’ with little bits of ‘The Wedding Singer,’ in a high school kind of way, and throw it all together. There are lots of stereotypical 80s characters. I think everybody is going to find something they recognize especially if you are familiar with that era," says director Amanda Rosco.
The audience are supposed to be guests at a prom. The storyline revolves around the nominees for prom king and prom queen and who is going to end up winning.
The audience will actually get to vote when they are at the show. "We will not know who wins,” says Rosco. "It could be a different winner every single time. We are preparing multiple endings."
In spite of climbing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the region, McKeesport Area School District officials are hoping to ensure that major spring events — including prom and commencement — will occur this year, if possible.
At the school board meeting, district officials discussed plans for remainder of the year and began looking ahead to fall.
Board President Joseph Lopretto and District Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. said they are keeping an eye on virus cases, and will move forward with plans as possible.
Prom and commencement were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 lockdown.