The renovated Ostermayer Laboratory building on Penn State’s McKeesport campus houses classrooms and laboratories for chemistry and biology. (Submitted photo courtesy Penn State University)
The president of Penn State University will join Greater Allegheny officials and faculty on Sept. 9 for the re-dedication of the newly renovated Ostermayer Laboratory building on the McKeesport campus.
The ceremony Sept. 9 will be presided over by University President Eric J. Barron and Jacqueline Edmondson, chancellor and chief executive officer of Penn State Greater Allegheny, a spokeswoman said.
Home to classrooms and chemistry and biology laboratories, the 22,000-square-foot Ostermayer Building was constructed in the early 1970s and opened in 1973.
The recently completed $14 million renovation brings state-of-the-art laboratory and safety equipment to the building, as well as more energy efficient systems, improved classrooms and teaching areas, a new entrance and lobby and spaces for students and faculty to collaborate on projects.
Two local apartment complexes are now getting national attention after an investigation revealed that they're racking up dozens of health and safety violations — and their owner is one of the country’s largest banks.
An investigation by WESA-FM, Pittsburgh’s NPR station, and the non-profit PublicSource website reported that since PNC Bank purchased Hi-View Gardens and Midtown Plaza Apartments in 2018, tenants have been complaining about cutbacks in maintenance that they allege have led to broken heating systems, roach and mouse infestations, water leaks and mold.
The story was picked up this week by the nationally broadcast program, “Here & Now,” which airs on more than 450 public radio stations across the United States.
A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh has indicted a Duquesne man on a charge of violating federal firearms laws.
Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman said the indictment accuses Keyjuan King, 22, of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
According to the indictment, police saw King walking through a parking lot holding a handgun and approaching an occupied vehicle nearby. Police said they approached King and asked him to show them his hands, but he turned and fled on foot.
Slow-roasted lamb sandwiches and haddock filets will both be on the menu when “A Taste of Serbia” returns to St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church.
A spokeswoman said pre-orders will be taken Sept. 12 to 26. The event will be held 3 to 7 p.m. Oct. 1 and 12 noon to 7 p.m. Oct. 2.
The church is located at 901 Hartman St. in McKeesport. Limited outdoor seating will be available in the courtyard and in addition to pre-orders, walk-up orders will be taken both days while supplies last.
What police said began as a domestic dispute ended with a Port Vue man in custody and his vehicle impounded.
Tyrek J. Johnson, 27, is charged by McKeesport police with burglary, harassment, making terroristic threats, simple assault and unlawful restraint. He is free on $5,000 percentage bond pending a preliminary hearing Aug. 30 before Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi.
Separately, city police also have cited Johnson for a violation of the state vehicle code. Police said Johnson has been driving a Ford Taurus police interceptor with tinted rear windows and a spotlight.
Safety fencing has gone up around the former site of Eastland Mall in North Versailles Twp. (Kristen Keleschenyi photo for Tube City Almanac)
Work has begun on an Amazon.com, Inc., warehouse facility at the former Eastland Mall site in North Versailles Twp.
Fences have gone up around the site on East Pittsburgh-McKeesport Boulevard where the one-time shopping mall stood from 1963 to 2007.
Although Trammell Crow Co., the real estate developers working on the site, have declined to confirm that Amazon will be the new tenant, North Versailles commissioners referred to Amazon by name during their recent meeting.
One commissioner, asked whether it was OK to report that Amazon was coming to the township, replied, “Absolutely. Dig Amazon dig!”
Correction: A NAMI spokesperson said Monday, “there is a correction concerning the wearing of masks. We are not mandating masks. We are recommending masks for those who are unvaccinated.”
The McKeesport affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness will meet at 6 p.m. Sept. 1 at Penn State Greater Allegheny, Room F122 of the Frable Building, a spokeswoman said.
The meeting is open to families and friends of loved ones living with mental illness.
A representative from the NAMI Keystone office will give details of the annual NAMI Walk fundraiser which will take place virtually on Oct. 9. A "care and share" session will follow for those in attendance.
Face masks will be optional but “strongly recommended” for students, faculty and staff in McKeesport Area schools when classes resume Aug. 23.
The school board was split 6-3 on the decision, with Dave Donato, Diane Elias, Tom Fioltei, Ivan Hampton, Jim Poston and Joe Lopretto in favor, and Jim Brown, Steve Kondrosky and Mindy Lundberg opposed.
Masks will be required on school buses and if the Allegheny County Health Department or state officials re-institute a face mask requirement, the district will shift its policy, Superintendent Dr. Mark Holtzman Jr. said.
“It’s a family’s choice (and) the student’s choice to wear a mask if they so choose,” he said.
A member of the planning commission told White Oak Council to improve its methods of communication after they were left unable to answer questions about a personnel change.
At Monday’s meeting, planning commission member Glenn Beach expressed disappointment in how the situation was handled.
“I’m disappointed in how the council handles communicating with the planning committee. No one knew anything about the removal of the code officer. The planning members looked foolish because no one could answer the public’s questions. It’s absolutely inexcusable that we had to hear about it from a third party,” Beach said.
A view of the new children’s room at the library. (Submitted photo)
West Newton Public Library will hold a fundraiser from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Le Grande Balll Room, 105 South Second St., said Robin Matty, library manager.
Tickets to the annual “Tea-riffic” cost $20. Tickets can be purchased at the library or at Gary’s Chuck Wagon Restaurant 105 South Second St, during restaurant hours and library hours. The event will include refreshments, a gift basket auction and other games.
In other news, Matty is encouraging all residents of the West Newton area to visit the newly remodeled and rededicated children’s room at the library.
Serra Marching Band student leaders are, in front from left, drum major Abigail Bernick, tenor sax soloist Maigen McGinty, and flute soloist and heroine Paige Rock. In back are Joe Crossen, drum major, trumpet soloist, and matador; bass clarinet soloist Jordan Premozic; and color guard captain Madalyn Peairs.
Surprises and finishing touches still were being tweaked as Serra Catholic High School’s marching band students and adult personnel completed the first week of camp for “El Matador” on Aug. 13.
“This year’s show is about a matador who falls in love with a beautiful lady in the crowd,” band director Jesse Bush said. “There is of course a bullfight in the show, and hopefully a really awesome ending that I don’t want to spoil.”
Drum major Joe Crossen has a trumpet solo. In addition to his musical talents, he’s tasked with bringing the story of the matador to life.
A giant sun prop stage in the middle of the field will be featured when McKeesport Area High School Marching Band kicks off its 2021 season with a return to competitions, festivals, and home and away football game performances.
“We wanted it to be exciting, festive, happy, a celebration of life,” band director Drew DeCarlo said of the “SOLARbration!” theme.
Band booster Mark St. Clair designed the sun prop, with painting by Anna Chapell.
A trailer for the show in May on the band’s YouTube site showcased how different cultures throughout history have celebrated the sun. “After last year (with COVID-related performance restrictions and other difficulties), we wanted something very different,” DeCarlo said. “There is a lot of percussion, even a rainforest-like sound.”
The Casturo family has been awarding scholarships at International Village for three decades — and didn’t want to break the streak just because there was no event last year.
Usually, two scholarships are announced on the last night of the event, Tracy Casturo said.
This year, despite a severe thunderstorm on Thursday night that forced entertainment at Renziehausen Park to end early, four winners of Casturo Family Educational Achievement Awards were announced from the main stage.
Two scholarships were awarded for 2021 and two for 2020, Casturo said Friday. “We have been doing this for 29 years and didn’t want to skip it” for 2020, she said.
The Rankin Junior Tamburitzans practiced for months for their day on stage. The group performed Wednesday night. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)
Despite intermittent rainy weather and hot, humid days, many residents from McKeesport and surrounding areas came out to Renziehausen Park to enjoy different nationality foods along with entertainment.
Held Tuesday through Thursday, the three-day celebration of ethnic heritage was welcomed after last year’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Susan Skvarla of Irwin, who attended along with her husband, Skip, said their favorite foods are halushki, pierogies and stuffed cabbages. Skvarla said she hadn’t been to International Village for years because it fell on days when she was vacationing.
“A friend mentioned International Village was happening so Skip and I wanted to have the experience this year,” she said.
Despite three recently repaired holes in Rebecca Street and shiny new bolts on this fire hydrant near McKeesport Auto Body — site of a massive fire on July 16 — officials of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County will not confirm or deny they have done any work in the area. (Tube City Almanac photo)
Almost a month after a massive fire destroyed a McKeesport car-repair shop, the water authority serving the city has lifted the final restrictions on drinking water in the area.
In giving five homeowners the “all clear” on Thursday to resume using their water, the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County also hinted that it will take legal action to recover what it called the “excessive” costs of dealing with the contamination of the water supply in parts of the lower 10th Ward.
But when pressed on who or what the authority wants to hold responsible, a spokesman refused to answer questions.
“I have told you all I have to say on this issue today,” Matt Junker, authority spokesman, told Tube City Almanac on Thursday afternoon.
Train rides, live music and a dip into the Heritage Hill Pool were all part of the fun at this year’s White Oak Community Day.
Held Saturday at Heritage Hill Park, featured vendors included Paint Parties & More, the White Oak Rotary Club, the Rainbow Volunteer Fire Co. and the FIRST Robotics team from McKeesport Area High School.
For Debbie Washowich, co-owner of Paint Parties & More, participating in community day was a natural fit.
A fire in a pile of construction debris on Thursday afternoon was likely started by a lit cigarette, McKeesport firefighters said.
Crews were dispatched to the 500 block of Fifth Avenue, Downtown, when callers reported that debris in a large metal dumpster was on fire.
The blaze was quickly extinguished. Firefighters and McKeesport police reviewed surveillance video and determined that a cigarette probably ignited construction material that had been discarded, said Gene Esken Jr., deputy fire chief.
About 80,000 workers have left the local labor force since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the area’s largest employers are finding it harder to fill vacancies.
According to a recent study by the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh, employment in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area in May 2021 was only 93.5 percent of what it was in May 2019. Of major American metro areas, only Cleveland, Boston and Detroit saw larger declines.
Experts blame a variety of factors, including health care workers who are burned out after 18 months of the pandemic and a lack of college students in the local job-training pipeline.
The problem in Pittsburgh is aggravated by two factors — a high percentage of older workers who were already near retirement age, and a stagnant and declining population base.
“There is evidence nationally that older workers have disproportionately dropped out of the labor force due to COVID,” said Chris Briem, a regional economist at the University Center for Social and Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh. “The Pittsburgh region has a relatively older workforce, so if older workers were more impacted by COVID, it would make sense we are seeing concentrated impacts here.”
Participants in the 2019 “A Village for Kids” enjoy a game at Renziehausen Park. Along with the return of McKeesport International Village, the kids’ theme event is also returning on Aug. 9. (Submitted photo courtesy State Sen. Jim Brewster)
If you go...
“A Village for Kids”
Where: Renzie Park Band Shell
When: Monday, Aug. 9 from noon to 4 p.m., rain or shine
Also available: Free Covid-19 Vaccines for ages 12 & up, administered by Allegheny County Health Department. Pfizer and J&J vaccines will be offered. County health department will return on Aug. 30 at the same time for people to get their second dose, where applicable. Walk-ups welcome, or pre-register at https://vax4.alleghenycounty.us/patient/s/
More information: Alison Piccolino, (412) 380-2242
An outpouring of support from community groups and the partnership with International Village has made it possible for A Village For Kids to continue on Monday (Aug. 9) for the 12th year.
Both it and International Village were among McKeesport events canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“This event began as a celebration of International Village’s 50th anniversary and we’re still here,” said chair Alison Piccolino, who has been involved with the planning since the first year.
“We are partners with International Village and, after speaking with their committee and they were going with their amazing event, I got the go-ahead for Village for Kids,” she said.
Weather permitting, Tube City Online will broadcast live entertainment from International Village on Facebook and YouTube, and at our home page, www.tubecityonline.com. Coverage will begin each day at 5 p.m.
International Village, a three-day festival of traditional ethnic food, music and dancing, returns to McKeesport’s Renziehausen Park Aug. 10–12 after a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some ethnic groups have elected not to participate after being unable to practice for health and safety reasons. (Tube City Almanac file photo by Denise L. Ritter)
When it’s 3:01 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10, longtime International Village emcee Mikey Dee knows where he’ll be — Renziehausen Park in McKeesport — and how he expects to feel.
“That’s when I’ll feel like we’re getting back to some kind of normal,” he said –- the minute after the ethnic celebration of traditional food, music and entertainment kicks off after a year’s hiatus because of COVID-19.
“I love the crowds. I love the familiar sights, sounds, and smells of the Village. I’m a big, traditional guy,” he said.
Dee said he’s been involved with International Village since 1990. In addition to his emcee duties, which he’s splitting with stage manager Patrick Fisher so he can perform with his own group Wednesday, Aug. 12 in the Jakomas Blue Top Pavilion, he’s the entertainment coordinator.
The Duquesne City School District will kick off the 2021-2022 school year with a new STEM Center, thanks in part to the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.
Geared towards older students, the facility will join the similar “makerspaces” utilized by the district’s younger students. But teachers can reserve any facility if they feel it will enhance lessons related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, according to Jamie Schmidt, Ed.D., the district’s director of curriculum and instruction.
“We've found since we have implemented the elementary makerspaces, our students do well. They're most engaged in these spaces,” said Schmidt. “So teachers are looking for any opportunity to take their kids and really engage them in learning because the students love it.”
Cast and crew of “Massacre Academy” celebrate the film’s premiere at the Lamp Theater in Irwin. (Sarah Turnbull photo for Tube City Almanac)
When director Mark Cantu was deciding on a topic for his next movie, horror seemed like the perfect choice.
“I’m a child of the ‘80s. I made my own horror movies as a kid, and the slasher films of that era have everything I loved as a kid, like practical special effects and strong female characters,” Cantu said. “It’s easy to do when you have classics like “Halloween”, “Jaws”, and “Alien” to go off of.”
Cantu’s latest film, horror-comedy “Massacre Academy,” made its world premiere at the Lamp Theatre in Irwin on Saturday. Filmed in and around McKeesport, the cast and crew consist mostly of locals.