Experts Urge Action to End Homeless Pet Problem

January 31, 2022 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Social distancing. Vaccine mandates. Quarantines. Remote learning. Animal shelter overcrowding. What do all these of things have in common? They’re all by-products of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Animal overpopulation, and by extension, overcrowding in animal shelters, has always been a problem. But the last two years have been especially challenging.

Tara Czekaj is the 18th Congressional District leader for the Humane Society of the United States. She says that the pandemic has created the perfect storm for pet overpopulation and overcrowding in shelters.

“It’s an issue two years in the making. Homeless animal populations and shelter overcrowding was a concern before COVID – but COVID has exacerbated absolutely everything,” Czekaj says.

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Duquesne Mayor Hopes to ‘Make a Difference’

January 30, 2022 |

By Matt Germaine | Posted in: Duquesne News

“All I ask for is a chance,” says Duquesne’s new mayor, R. Scott Adams. (Matt Germaine photo for Tube City Almanac)

Duquesne’s new mayor ran for office with the support of his family and friends, and a goal of trying to “make a difference” in his hometown.

R. Scott Adams, former police chief and council member, was sworn in earlier this month. He replaced former Mayor Nickole Nesby after defeating her in the Democratic primary in 2021.

Adams ran on a platform that stressed financial stability, safety, and the collection of delinquent taxes. The same issues originally inspired him to enter politics when a city council seat opened in 2019.

“With the support of my family, I said I’ll run for mayor and give it a chance because I didn’t want to be one of those people that say ‘what if?’” Adams said. “Maybe I can make a difference here and make change.”

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Report: Some Schools Under-Report Arrest Data

January 28, 2022 |

By Emily Scott © Public News Service | Posted in: Crime and Police News

(Graphic: ACLU of Pennsylvania)

Keeping track of student arrests and law enforcement referrals is a key tool for transparency and accountability within schools, but a new report found some Pennsylvania schools have regularly underreported data on student arrests.

Analysis by the ACLU of Pennsylvania showed Allegheny County public schools underreported student arrests by 83 percent in the 2017-2018 school year — including Pittsburgh Public Schools, which reported no arrests.

Ghadah Makoshi, community advocate for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said misrepresentation erodes trust in the education system.

The same report also called Allegheny County a hot-spot for students being arrested by police, with local youth being far more likely to be referred to police than students in either Philadelphia or Pennsylvania as a whole.

In addition, the infractions for which students were arrested in Allegheny County are often relatively minor. The report found that Black male students and students with disabilities were at greatest risk for arrest or referral to law enforcement.

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Parents Tell Board of Busing, Student Hardships

January 27, 2022 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Transportation remains a source of strife for parents and educators in McKeesport Area School District.

Since September, four bus runs have been canceled on a regular basis, leaving hundreds of students without rides to school.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, school Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. said he’s made clear to the bus company that its actions are affecting numerous students.

Holtzman said that during a recent meeting with an Allegheny County judge and representatives of the district’s bus provider, Pennsylvania Coach Lines, reports indicated that 147 buses were canceled this year, disrupting nearly 50,000 rides.

“If you’re frustrated or disgusted or you’re mad at me I get it. I understand. I’ll take whatever responsibility for it,” Holtzman told parents. “Unfortunately, we have no control over the decisions that the bus company was making to not run four buses consistently.”

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NAMI McKeesport Sets February Meeting

January 26, 2022 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

The McKeesport affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness will meet at 6 p.m. Feb. 2 at Penn State Greater Allegheny, Frable Building, Room 122. The meeting is open to families and friends of loved ones living with mental illness.

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness, a spokeswoman said. The group offers understanding and support unique to those who are affected by these conditions.

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Phony ‘Sheriff’ Scams Local Woman for $18K

January 25, 2022 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A 33-year-old woman provided $18,000 to scam artists pretending to be an Allegheny County sheriff’s deputy and an FBI agent.

Officials are warning residents that government agencies will never ask for gift cards to pay off a fine or post bond.

The suspects, who have not yet been identified, spoofed the sheriff’s office number on caller ID to make the scam seem more convincing, said Tony Griffith, spokesman for Allegheny County Sheriff Kevin Kraus.

Investigators said the victim was convinced that she had to pay off fines and fees by purchasing gift cards from Giant Eagle, Rite Aid and other merchants, and then reading the numbers over the phone to the phony law-enforcement officers.

“The sheriff’s office cannot stress enough that this is not how we conduct business involving warrants,” Griffith said. “We never ask for payment in the form of gift cards for anything involving the judicial system or any other aspect of our office.”

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EA Principal Moves to New Position

January 24, 2022 |

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

After 18 years of serving as an elementary school principal within the East Allegheny School District, Sean Gildea has been named the new director of education.

Along with coordinating a comprehensive overview of the school’s curriculum, this new position will be dedicated to curriculum development and implementation, professional development and assessment, school officials said.

The school board voted unanimously to promote Gildea at the January school board meeting.

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White Oak Council OK’s ’22 Budget

January 24, 2022 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: Announcements

White Oak’s 2022 budget has been approved by the new borough council.

At the Jan. 17 meeting, council OK’d the spending plan by a 6-1 vote, with Council Members Chuck Davis, Lou Bender, Julie Opferman, Joelle Harbert, Jason Russell and Loree Scharritter voting yes, and Council Member George Pambacas.

Borough officials said the new budget has $30,000 set aside for athletic field improvements, but is otherwise the same as the one rejected by the previous borough council in December.

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MAHS Senior Awarded ROTC Scholarship

January 21, 2022 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

A McKeesport Area High School senior has been awarded one of the nation’s most competitive scholarships, the U.S. Marine Corps has announced.

At a ceremony Friday evening, Aaron Elm received the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Marine Option Scholarship. Elm, of White Oak, is the son of Aaron and Julie Elm.

The NROTC Marine Option Scholarship is one of the most competitive in the country, said Marine Capt. Noah Andersen, executive officer for Marine Recruiting Station Pittsburgh.

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Local Doctor Named to Health Department Post

January 21, 2022 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements

A local physician has been named deputy director of clinical services for the Allegheny County Health Department, a spokeswoman announced.

In her new role, Dr. Barbara S. Nightingale will oversee clinics for tuberculosis, immunization, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, as well as dental services and the health department’s emergency preparedness program.

Nightingale assumed her duties with the county earlier this month, county spokeswoman Amie Downs said.

Nightingale formerly served as medical director of Latterman Family Health Center in McKeesport’s East End, where she treated patients for both medical and psychiatric conditions.

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Man Charged in Versailles Shooting

January 21, 2022 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A Wilkinsburg man is free on bond after being charged by Allegheny County police with aggravated assault in connection with a shooting on Sunday night in Versailles Borough.

Dondre A. Grisom, 27, was released Thursday on $20,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing Jan. 31 before Magisterial District Judge Thomas Miller Jr.

Allegheny County police allege that Grisom shot an unnamed juvenile just before 9 p.m. during an incident in the 900 block of Center Street. The youth was taken to the hospital by private vehicle, police said. His condition was not released.

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Pedestrian Dies After Being Struck By Car

January 19, 2022 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News, White Oak News

A White Oak man died Tuesday night after being hit by a car on Route 48, police said, and the driver of the car that struck him did not stop.

Craig Peden, 81, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Allegheny County police said Peden was walking along Jacks Run Road just north of the entrance to White Oak Park when the collision occurred just before 7:30 p.m.

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Demolition Begins On Former Jaison’s Store

January 14, 2022 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Demolition of the former Jaison’s Department Store on Fifth Avenue, Downtown, began Friday. (Tube City Almanac photo)

For Jaison’s Department Store in McKeesport, the doorbuster sale to end all doorbuster sales began on Friday.

Crews from Unis Demolition of Aliquippa, Beaver County, are demolishing the building at 215 Fifth Ave., Downtown.

Jaison’s was most recently used for bingo games by a charitable organization, but had sat vacant for at least a decade.

Pittsburgh real-estate developer Barry L. Stein, whose company purchased the building in 2014, said he had hoped to find a tenant, but the structure proved impossible to rent.

“The roof was no good when I bought it,” he said Friday. “Second and third floors have little value without an elevator, and in that building, the elevator is in the middle of the building. That means you couldn’t have a lobby.”

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W.O. Council OK’s Park Project

January 12, 2022 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: White Oak News

The borough of White Oak is planning to move forward with its proposed Heritage Hill Park project, officials reported at Monday’s council workshop meeting.

Borough Engineer Ken Hillman provided updates on the status of the project, along with a timeline for completion.

“Our grant was funded for $184,100 — it’s a 50/50 contract,” Hillman said. “If we have the contract in place by May (or) June, that would be good. The project would go out to bid in late fall/early winter, and work would start in March (or) April 2023.”

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Duquesne Manufacturer Wins ‘Kids Sleep’ Award

January 12, 2022 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements, Duquesne News

(Submitted photo)

A weighted blanket manufactured by Duquesne-based American Textile Co. has received an award from the publisher of Parents Magazine.

The “Tranquility” brand kids’ blanket is featured in the “2022 Kids Sleep Awards” in the magazine’s January/February issue. It was called “one of the 21 best products to get kids to bed.”

Weighted blankets and vests have become popular in recent years for both kids and adults who struggle to fall asleep.

Although the scientific evidence for their benefits isn’t entirely clear, some experts have theorized the blankets induce a kind of deep pressure stimulation, which stimulates the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate sleep cycles, and reduces cortisol, a stress hormone.

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Dravosburg Sewer Line Replacement Underway

January 12, 2022 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Construction began this week on a project to replace approximately 1,000 feet of old sewer lines in Dravosburg, Pennsylvania American Water Co. announced.

The project is expected to continue through the spring.

Gary Lobaugh, a spokesman for the water company, said the 60-year-old sewer line “has a recent history of breaks and reliability issues.”

The water company took over the Dravosburg sewer system with its purchase of the facilities of McKeesport’s municipal sewerage authority in 2017.

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Juniors Return to MLT Stage With ‘Seussical’

January 11, 2022 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment

Dylan Stramaski plays Horton in the MLT Juniors’ production of “Seussical.” The show opens this Friday. (Submitted photo courtesy Jennifer R. Vertullo, McKeesport Little Theater)

If you go...


MLT Juniors present “Seussical”

Where: McKeesport Little Theater
1614 Coursin St.

When: Friday, Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 16 at 2 p.m., with a special Thursday show at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 20, then Friday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 23 at 2 p.m.

Tickets: 412-673-1100 or at

Bright sets and colorful costumes reflect the enthusiasm of young actors — veterans and newcomers alike — as they take the stage for McKeesport Little Theater Juniors’ production of “Seussical,” which opens Friday, Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Although adult productions have resumed, this is the first time the Juniors have performed as a group since their 2020 show, “Into the Woods.”

The family-friendly show features familiar Dr. Seuss characters as the Cat in the Hat (Jonah Higdon) narrates the tale of Horton the Elephant (Dylan Stramaski), and his adventures as he tries to save a population of tiny Who people living in a speck of dust on a clover.

Lori Stramaski and Amy Majewski teamed up to co-produce “Seussical,” under the leadership of Dorothy Fallows as director. Their children, Dylan and Kaitlyn, senior members of the Juniors, not only have lead roles, but took on the task of choreographing the show.

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Local Resources Available for Mental Health

January 10, 2022 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: Announcements

Post-holiday depression is tough. Resources are available in our area. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)


Related Story: Feeling Post-Holiday Depression? You’re Not Alone

In a crisis or an emergency?

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800 273-8255.

The Re:Solve Crisis Network is a 24/7, 365-day crisis service that is available for free to all Allegheny County residents. The hotline number is 1-888-796-8226.

Addiction Treatment and Intervention Services

Addiction Treatment and Intervention Services (ATIS) has Open Access (OA) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Call (412) 675-8516.

National Alliance for Mental Illness

NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania provides information and resources for diverse communities.

The McKeesport NAMI Family Support Group meets at 6 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month, at Penn State Greater Allegheny, Frable Building, Room 122, 4000 University Drive, McKeesport.

For information regarding the group, contact AnnaLisa Haughwout at or call (412) 527-6600.

UPMC Western Behavioral Health at Mon Yough Community Services

UPMC Western Behavioral Health at Mon Yough Community Services, located at 335 Shaw Ave., Downtown McKeesport, provides resources for adults and children in the Mon Valley.

Adult Outpatient Program: (412) 675-6927 — The Adult Outpatient program provides intensive outpatient programming. The program is only taking hospital discharges due to staffing shortages, but will make referrals.

Child and Adolescent Program: (412) 675-8226 — The Child and Adolescent Program will begin Open Access (OA) the week of Jan. 10. OA is held on Monday and Wednesday from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Clients can walk-in to start the intake process. This program accepts young adults from 18 to 22 years as well. This program also offers school-based therapy in several school districts.

Vickie Babyak is a photographer and freelance writer from Dravosburg. She may be reached at


Feeling Post-Holiday Depression? You’re Not Alone

January 10, 2022 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Donna Campbell of Glassport holds a photograph of her father on his 99th birthday. Since his death from COVID-19 in March 2021, she’s been battling depression. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)

Related story: Local resources for people struggling with depression

The holiday season is over, and a new year has begun. People may be asking themselves why they have been feeling blue. Mental health experts say there are different reasons people experience depression through the holidays and post-holidays.

Psychotherapist Trina Bennett, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and McKeesport Area Senior High School, says people may experience seasonal depression or have an increase in their depressive symptoms due to shorter days. The colder weather also decreases socialization and outdoor activities.

Bennett specializes in working with people who have confronted trauma, and has clients who experience increased depression during the holidays. They are triggered by that time of the year because holiday breaks from school left them vulnerable to home abuse, she said.

“I’d imagine it is awful to experience the expectation that everyone is cheerful when the season brings up body harm and/or cognitive memories of decreased safety,” Bennett said.

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Holiday Displays Bring Cheer During Pandemic

January 04, 2022 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: White Oak News

Russell Morgan’s house on Fawcett Avenue in White Oak is one of the winners of the borough’s second-annual holiday home decorating contest. (Submitted photo courtesy White Oak Borough)

When Russell Morgan moved to White Oak two years ago, he knew he wanted to share his love of Christmas with the community.

“I’m fond of creating, and of Christmas. My favorite part is the look of it, and other peoples’ reactions,” Morgan said.

The borough of White Oak announced the winners of the Second Annual Holiday Home Decorating Contest and the Gingerbread House Contest.

Categories in the home decorating contest included Best Traditional, Clark Griswold, Buddy the Elf, and Kids’ Choice.

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Davis Officially Announces Lt. Gov Bid

January 04, 2022 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

State Rep. Austin Davis of McKeesport is congratulated by Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey on Tuesday morning. Davis announced plans to run for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania at Kennedy Park, Downtown. (Tube City Almanac photo)

State Rep. Austin Davis on Tuesday officially kicked off his bid to become Pennsylvania’s next lieutenant governor.

The 32-year-old McKeesport Democrat said he was running to send a message “to those who say our state and our country is too divided to repair.”

“To those who say our best days are behind us, that we are no longer a beacon of hope and opportunity, I offer myself and my story as proof to the contrary,” said Davis, standing next to the statue of John F. Kennedy along Lysle Boulevard, near the site where the former president gave a speech in 1962.

Davis was joined by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor. Shapiro had told KDKA-TV in December he wanted Davis to be his running mate.

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W.O. Swears in New Council Members

January 04, 2022 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: White Oak News

Members of White Oak borough council taking the oath Monday included Council Members Jason Russell, Joelle Harbert, Loree Scharritter and returning Council Member Julie Opferman. (Sarah Turnbull for Tube City Almanac)

The borough of White Oak swore in members of council, mayor and tax collector at Monday’s reorganizational meeting.

Magisterial District Judge Thomas G. Miller administered the Oath of Office for Council Members Joelle Harbert, Julie Opferman, Jason Russell and Loree Scharriter; Mayor Ina Jean Marton, and tax collector Lisa Pitchford.

“People who get involved in municipal government are usually involved in other activities,” Miller said. “I think you will all do a very good job.”

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Council Members, City Clerk Take Oaths

January 04, 2022 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

At Monday’s meeting, Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi, second from left, administered the oath of office to McKeesport City Council Members Brian Evans and Jim Barry Jr., and City Controller Ryan Sturgess. Not shown: City Council Member Jill Lape. (Tube City Almanac photo)

At a short meeting on Monday, members of McKeesport City Council were sworn into office and meeting dates were set for 2022.

Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi administered the oath of office to Council Members Jim Barry Jr. and Brian Evans, City Controller Ryan Sturgess and City Clerk Annette James.

Council Member Jill Lape was unable to attend and was sworn in earlier in the day at Riazzi’s office.

Barry, Evans, Lape and Sturgess were elected to four-year terms in November. James, who has served as city clerk for seven years, is appointed by Mayor Michael Cherepko and city council.

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Hearings Begin for Proposed House, Senate Maps

January 03, 2022 |

By Emily Scott © Public News Service | Posted in: Politics & Elections

With the deadline for approving Pennsylvania’s new voting-district maps fast approaching, the commission in charge of creating House and Senate maps is hosting public hearings this week to receive feedback from residents.

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission will host eight hours of public hearings on Thursday and Friday in Harrisburg.

Carol Kuniholm, chair of the advocacy group Fair Districts PA, said creating new maps once a decade based on population changes is never an easy task. She pointed out in the proposed Senate map, there is concern about a pattern of large deviations from the ideal district population, which needs to be addressed.

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January NAMI Meeting Canceled

January 03, 2022 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

The McKeesport affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness has canceled its planned Jan. 5 meeting, a spokeswoman said.

The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 2 in Room 122 of the Frable Building at Penn State Greater Allegheny.

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. It offers understanding and support unique to those who are affected by these conditions.

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Fate of Vacant Penn-McKee Awaits Report

January 02, 2022 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Editor’s Note: The writer of this story has a conflict of interest. See note at the end of this story.

(Tube City Almanac photo)

The fate of McKeesport’s long-vacant Penn-McKee Hotel likely depends on an engineer’s report due later this month.

The in-depth study, being completed by KU Resources on behalf of the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh, will help advise city redevelopment officials on whether the historic structure near the McKees Point Marina can be stabilized for re-use, or must be torn down.

“Right now, we are gathering all of the facts so that we are able make a responsible, educated decision on the future of the Penn-McKee,” McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said.

Nearly $1 million has been set aside for environmental remediation of the structure, said Matthew Craig, executive director of the YPA. The organization was retained in 2018 to study the history of the area around the Penn-McKee, as well as possible re-uses for the building.

Located on Fifth Avenue at Strawberry Way, the Penn-McKee is like a person who has abused drugs and alcohol for decades “and then they go to the doctor and hope they can erase all of their bad choices,” Craig said. “It has sat vacant for too long.”

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