White Oak residents on Tuesday will select members of council and decide whether to retain their mayor.
The Democratic ticket includes Lisa Pitchford for tax collector; with David J. Pasternak, George Dillinger, Ken Robb and Kenneth Obusek as members of council. The Republican ticket includes Julie Opferman, Jason Russell, Joelle Harbert and Loree Scharritter running for members of council.
There are four seats available on council. Dillinger, Opferman and Robb are incumbents.
Incumbent Mayor Ina Jean Marton faces a last-minute challenger, write-in candidate Kelly Doyle. (See related story.)
There is a shortage of poll workers in North Versailles Twp. for the Nov. 2 election, township Commissioner Allen Wagner announced.
The shift is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the pay is $150 for the day. If you are interested in working at the polls, fill out the form at vote.pa.gov/GetInvolved or call Allegheny County Elections Divisions Manager Dave Voye at (412) 350-4500.
McKeesport-based Auberle will dedicate its newest family emergency shelter during its annual meeting on Wednesday.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the Most Rev. David Zubik, Roman Catholic bishop of Pittsburgh, will join Auberle board members at the campus, located on Hartman Street, for the dedication during the organization’s annual public meeting.
Fitzgerald and Zubik are both expected to make brief remarks during the event at 2:30 p.m.
Penn State University’s poet laureate will visit the Greater Allegheny Campus in McKeesport to read from her works on Monday, a spokeswoman announced.
Shara McCallum, 2021-22 Penn State Laureate and Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, will speak at 12:15 p.m. Nov. 1 in the Ostermayer Room of the Student Community Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Originally from Jamaica, McCallum is a poet who has authored six books and has had poems and essays published in journals, anthologies, and textbooks throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and Israel.
North Versailles Twp. Commissioner George Thompson presents Commission President Frank Bivins with a framed certificate from the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Commissioners in recognition of 36 years of service on the board. (Kristen Keleschenyi photo for Tube City Almanac)
It “probably the worst-kept secret in the world,” joked North Versailles Twp. Commissioner Allen Wagner at this week's meeting.
Township commissioners reacted to the news — finally confirmed this month — that Internet shopping giant Amazon.com is building a distribution center at the site of the former Eastland Mall.
At the October meeting, board members confirmed the recent sale of the former Eastland Mall property to Amazon.com.
The Pittsburgh Business Times first reported on Oct. 14 that the 46-acre property at 2900 Maryland Ave. is being sold by Realty Development Eastland Inc. — an affiliate of Buffalo, N.Y., shopping mall owner Benderson Development LLC — for $9 million.
An Elizabeth Twp. man is in the Allegheny County Jail after McKeesport police said he assaulted a state narcotics agent while being arrested earlier this month.
Troy D. Cesaire, 41, faces a preliminary hearing Nov. 1 before Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi. He is being held in lieu of $25,000 bond, court documents indicate.
The driver of the car in which Cesaire was riding was charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance. Police said he refused to submit to a blood test.
McKeesport police said that officers on patrol noticed a suspicious vehicle parked in the 900 block of Union Avenue on the morning of Oct. 7. Police said the area has had problems with drug trafficking in the past.
River Materials Inc. transfers bulk materials, including coal and coke, between railroad cars and barges. The company’s McKeesport facility, opened in 2019, uses a former U.S. Steel and Dravo Corp. barge dock that was previously considered “unusable.” (Submitted photo courtesy River Materials Inc.)
An intermodal facility near the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge has purchased nearly 10 additional acres of land with an eye toward expanding its operations.
It’s the second major business announcement at McKeesport’s industrial park in less than a month, following the news that medical cannabis producer Trulieve is acquiring 37 acres of land, and three buildings, in a $10.4 million deal.
River Materials Inc. is purchasing 9.92 acres from Regional Industrial Development Corp. at a cost of $595,200 and plans to build a 10,000-square-foot operations center on Center Street.
The deal was announced this week by the company and RIDC.
The White Oak Parks and Recreation Committee announced that the Halloween Parade and Truck-and-Treat event will be held 12 noon until 3 p.m. Oct. 30 at Sampson’s Mills Presbyterian Church. The parade line up will begin at 11:30 a.m.
“The borough will also host a Halloween decorating contest. Interested residents should email their name, contact information and pictures to Michelle (Gessner) at the borough,” said Councilwoman Julie Opferman.
Trick-or-treat hours in White Oak are designated for 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31.
White Oak borough will apply for a $250,000 grant to be used for economic development projects, the council announced at Monday’s meeting.
Council voted unanimously to pass this resolution, with council members George Dillinger and Joe Nagy being absent.
Offered by the Gaining Economic Development Tourism Fund — a branch of the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County — this grant provides financial assistance for economic projects to communities in Allegheny County.
Penn State Greater Allegheny will reopen its Free Store 15132 this week, a spokeswoman said.
The store is located on the lower level of the Frable Building on the McKeesport campus.
A “free store” redistributes unwanted items in good condition to people that need them. The Free Store 15132 was originally opened in 2017 as part of Penn State Greater Allegheny’s Sustainability Signature Program. Available items may have ended up in landfills, but now have a new purpose for those with a need.
The concept was invented in San Francisco in the 1960s but was repopularlized locally by Giselle Fetterman, wife of then-Braddock mayor, now lieutentant governor, John Fetterman.
Lee Wagner, shown at left, is program manager for Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard. He spoke to members of the Altrusa clubs during a meeting in McKeesport on Saturday. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)
Lee Wagner wants to help break down the barriers and stigma attached to frightening topics like suicide and substance abuse among veterans.
Wagner, the program manager for Pittsburgh-based Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of Robert Morris and Point Park universities. He spoke Saturday at a workshop for members of Altrusa International, hosted by the McKeesport Altrusa club.
“I don’t talk about happy things,” Wagner warned club members. Instead, he talked about the special challenges faced by women who have served in the military, and the resources available for them.
Members of the Young Rotarians of District 7305 help unload donations at McKeesport Agape Center. The charity, located on Lincoln Way in White Oak, opened a cafe in September. (Young Rotarians of District 7305 via Facebook)
When Kelly Doyle opened McKeesport Agape Center in 2019, she knew she wanted to love and serve her community like God.
In September, Kelly and her husband Mike expanded their mission by opening a restaurant, Cheese and MAC Café.
“The more people knew about us, the more requests we got. Our needs and cost kept going up, so we needed a way to raise funds. Plus, it’s a good play on words,” Doyle said.
Located on Lincoln Way next to PNC Bank, Cheese and MAC Café serves breakfast sandwiches, pastries, bagels, fudge, cheesecake and more. All the proceeds go to the McKeesport Agape Center.
After weeks of cancellations that have stranded hundreds of students, McKeesport Area School District and its school bus provider are operating under an agreement being monitored by an Allegheny County judge.
But McKeesport students aren’t the only ones who have found the beginning of the 2021-22 school year to be a bumpy ride.
“Students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely riding on a school bus than in a private car. And the drivers are skilled professionals,” Focht said.
“Unfortunately there is a shortage of school bus drivers,” he said, urging viewers to contact their local school bus providers or school districts for information about employment: “It just might be the best job you never knew you would love.”
A Wisconsin-based investment group is purchasing the former G.C. Murphy Co. distribution center in Christy Park and plans to “immediately commence upgrades to the facility to accommodate new tenant occupancy.”
Phoenix Investors LLC announced Monday that it will purchase the 627,000-square-foot facility, which stretches over 36 acres between 28th and 35th avenues.
The building has been occupied since 1995 by Magic Creations, which manufactures and distributes plastic housewares and other items to discount stores. The company will continue to occupy a portion of the facility, Anthony Crivello, executive vice president of Phoenix Investors, told Tube City Almanac.
Terms of the deal are not yet being disclosed, Crivello said.
Drum major Josh Wos leads the Tiger Marching Band in fine tuning "SOLARbration!" for its exhibition at the Oct. 16 home show. (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac)
After months of preparation, McKeesport Band, Orchestra, and Guard Boosters will host the Tournament of Bands Competition home show on Saturday.
It will feature performances by 10 high school bands and and exhibition by the home band of its popular “SOLARbration!” The show starts at 5 p.m. at Weigle-Schaffer Stadium, 1960 Eden Park Blvd.
“This season has been a very memorable one with the return of band competitions and our home show showcasing the music talents of so many young people,” McKeesport Area High School Tiger Marching Band director Drew DeCarlo said.
First Church of God, 157 North Second St., West Newton will hold an election day lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 2, a spokesperson said.
Selections will include chili, chicken noodle or broccoli cheese soup, chicken salad and ham barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs with sauerkraut, potato salad or macaroni salad, and pie or cake. For more information, call (724) 872-7467.
All lanes of the Jerome Avenue Bridge will be closed Sunday night so that crews can replace portions of the bridge deck, a district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation said.
The inbound lanes from 10th Ward to Downtown McKeesport will be closed from 5 p.m. Sunday through 5 a.m. Monday morning, weather-permitting. Eastbound traffic will be detoured via River Road, the 15th Avenue Bridge and Walnut Street.
As a reminder, the Jerome Avenue Bridge is closed in the westbound direction around-the-clock through November.
Increased security and police presence are being utilized throughout the East Allegheny School District this week.
Early Tuesday morning, a threat of violence was made via social media against the junior-senior high school, officials said.
Although North Versailles Twp. police determined the threat had only minor credibility, the district is taking the additional measures to “ensure a safe school experience for all and hopefully alleviate some anxieties” parents and students are feeling, according to a statement posted on the district’s Facebook page from Jamie Griesbaum, district secretary, on behalf of Superintendent Alan Johnson.
White Oak borough will consider adding three additional vacant homes to the list of structures already targeted for demoltion.
Under Pennsylvania’s Act 152, every county in the state can collect a fee for blight removal whenever a deed or mortgage is recorded at the courthouse. Borough manager John Palyo suggested using the revenue from that fee to tear down abandoned structures.
“If we’re budgeting funds for demolitions, why not do more? We could proceed with more properties even without grant money,” Palyo said.
McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko: “You have to attack this issue from every angle and focus on what will have the greatest impact on the city as a whole.” The blight removal program has received “an overwhelming amount of positive feedback,” he says. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)
Dawn Lewandowski of North Huntingdon Twp. holds Artemis, one of the cats who were available for adoption at the White Oak Animal Safe Haven during the Sept. 25 Fido Food Truck Fest. (Sarah Turnbull photo for Tube City Almanac)
The White Oak Animal Safe Haven held its first Fido Food Truck Fest on Sept. 25.
Five food trucks — Lil Sista Sweets, Bull River Taco, Good to Go, Sweet Buzz Bean and Bistro and Truckin Triangles — gathered at the White Oak Volunteer Fire Dept.
According to shelter director Laura Massie, the festival was born out of a desire to switch things up, along with supporting the shelter.
“This is the first year we’ve done it…it’s brand new,” Massie said. “We usually do the Fido ball, but we had to switch things up because of COVID.”
State Rep. Austin Davis speaks about the COVID-19 vaccine during a press conference April 8 at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Downtown. (Submitted photo courtesy state Rep. Austin Davis)
The 35th Legislative District has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in Pennsylvania, state Rep. Austin Davis said Wednesday.
Davis, who has represented the district since 2018, urged residents who have not yet been vaccinated to get their shots.
“We simply cannot afford to repeat a surge of the virus like last winter and put even more stress on our healthcare providers, businesses, schools and communities, which have already been through so much in the last 18 months,” Davis said.
The head of a McKeesport-based charity that helps homeless men struggling with drug and alcohol addiction told city council on Wednesday his agency is not receiving the local support it needs.
During a public comment period, Keith Giles, founder and chief executive officer of First Step Recovery Homes Inc., said he has asked several times for financial support from city officials and the McKeesport Community Fund — a charitable foundation on which several city officials serve — without a response.
“Please understand that we at First Step have been hanging on by a thread,” Giles said. “We are a viable entity in the city, and want to continue our much-needed service, but financial assistance is much needed.”
But Mayor Michael Cherepko told Giles the city has responded to First Step’s requests. “You just didn’t like what I had to say,” he said.
Conflict of Interest Note: The author of this story has a conflict of interest. See editor’s note at the end of the story.
These buildings, seen from the McKeesport Transportation Center on Lysle Boulevard, will be demolished under a contract awarded Wednesday by McKeesport city council. (Tube City Almanac file photo)
Seven more buildings in the city’s Downtown business district — including the former G.C. Murphy Co. home office and Helmstadter’s Department Store — are one step closer to the wrecking ball.
McKeesport City Council on Wednesday by 6-0 vote awarded a $644,000 contract to Advanced Builders Inc. of Perryopolis, Fayette County, to demolish 513, 515, 519, 521, 523, 527 and 531 Fifth Ave. Councilman Tim Brown was absent.
“We’re excited to get through this,” McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “This is a contract for probably two-thirds of the block, across the street from city hall. We wanted to rip down the entire block at once, and we have one individual who’s holding us up.”
The first session, scheduled for 3 p.m. Oct. 14, will be titled “Examining Police Reform: Conversations about the Pittsburgh Community Taskforce for Police Reform and Its Implications for the Mon Valley.”
Trulieve Cannabis Corp., which acquired McKeesport-based PurePenn in 2020, is purchasing three buildings and approximately 37 acres of property in the city’s industrial park, RIDC announced Tuesday. (Tube City Almanac photo)
A medical-marijuana producer has committed $10.4 million toward expanding its operations in the city’s industrial park, with the possibility of adding 800 jobs.
Trulieve Cannabis Corp., which purchased McKeesport-based PurePenn in 2020, is acquiring approximately 37 acres of property and three buildings, Regional Industrial Development Corp. announced Tuesday.
The purchase includes McKeesport Commons I — the former EchoStar call center — and McKeesport Commons II, a vacant building next door. Trulieve also is acquiring the guard shack located at the Locust Street railroad crossing, RIDC said.
Discussions about selling the two McKeesport Commons buildings have been ongoing “ever since the acquisition of PurePenn by Trulieve,” said Timothy White, senior vice president for development at RIDC. “They’ve obviously had some aggressive expansion plans and they’ve been looking at McKeesport as a place to expand and grow.”
Tristian Banks and Calise Johnson, two of the YouthCast photographers, stand in front of the mural unveiled on Saturday. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)
A new mural decorating McKeesport City Hall features the faces of ordinary residents, as captured by youth photographers.
The mural, unveiled at 12 noon Saturday, is a collage of photos captured over the past two years by teen-agers from McKeesport’s YouthCAST program with guidance from Martha Rial, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who oversees Point Park University’s McKeesport Community Newsroom.
YouthCAST members have been talking with residents, giving elderly people roses and learning about photography as they made portraits of McKeesport residents from different backgrounds and of different ages.
Cash, narcotics and a so-called “ghost gun” were seized Friday morning from a home in Duquesne, county police said.
The resident, Rashaad T. Fitzgerald, 29, is currently being held in the Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bond on charges of possession of controlled substances, possession with intent to deliver, endangering the welfare of children, tampering with physical evidence and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Allegheny County police said narcotics investigators have been tracking Fitzgerald for several months and obtained a search warrant for his home in the 900 block of State Street.
Shantel Pizaro, mother of Steven Eason Jr., speaks to the media on Friday outside Allegheny County police headquarters. Eason was shot twice on Sept. 11 outside the Haunted Hills Hayride in North Versailles Twp. (Jason A. Mignanelli photo for Tube City Almanac)
“I can’t sleep. I can’t rest. I can’t even start healing, knowing that the person who killed my son is walking around,” said Shantel Pizaro on Friday.
Pizaro’s son, 15-year-old Steven Eason of Penn Hills, was shot Sept. 11 outside the Haunted Hills Hayride in North Versailles Twp. and died a short time later. Another teen-ager was wounded.
“We need to be leaders,” Pizaro said during a press conference at Allegheny County Police headquarters in Green Tree. “We need to instill good morals in our children. Someone knows something and this could be causing trauma to those young kids who know what happened. They need to let the truth come out.”
A two-alarm fire that gutted a house in the 1300 block of Locust Street on Thursday night is under investigation by McKeesport police and the Allegheny County fire marshal’s office.
The two-story wood-frame home was supposedly vacant, but firefighters found evidence that someone had been living in the structure, including mail in the mailbox and clothing and personal items inside, said McKeesport deputy fire Chief Gene Esken.
Crews were dispatched just before 8:30 p.m. and arrived to find flames visible in multiple windows, Esken said.
The dispute between McKeesport Area School District and Pennsylvania Coach Lines is going back to court.
On Thursday — when buses on five different routes didn’t show up as scheduled — the district filed an emergency motion before Allegheny County Judge Arnold Klein asking for a court order to compel the bus company to provide service.
The district’s move came two days after Propel Charter School and Young Scholars of Greater Allegheny Charter School filed their own request for a preliminary injunction or special relief against the bus company.
In Tuesday’s filing, attorneys for the charter schools argued that students are suffering “immediate and irreparable harm” from being “stranded and unable to attend school.”