EA Food Program Fuels Future Wildcats

May 31, 2022 |

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

Logan Elementary School teachers Angela Turkowski and Jennifer Kolodychak volunteer to help during the Wednesday Fueling Future Wildcats food bag assembly. (Kristen Keleschenyi photo for Tube City Almanac)

Reading, writing and arithmetic. These are the cornerstones of elementary school learning. But in some cases, there is another component needed: Food.

At Logan Elementary School, in the East Allegheny School District, a program called Fueling Future Wildcats helps fill a need that can oftentimes go unnoticed.

“There are some kids that are almost flying under the radar, because they come to school looking like they are doing OK, but we never really know if the family is really struggling,” says program coordinator Kaitlyn Gida.

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Charter School Tuition Gets Statewide Attention

May 31, 2022 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, State & Region

With charter school tuition payments rising faster than enrollments, public school districts are asking the Pennsylvania state legislature for relief.

According to Pennsylvania’s quarter-century-old law, charter schools do not charge students tuition. Instead, the majority of charter school funding comes from each student’s district of residence.

But local charter school officials said that their facilities serve poor students and fill vital educational needs in the communities where they operate. One local charter administrator who asked not to be identified by name said their school and others like it are getting “a bad rap.”

McKeesport Area School District Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. is one of the local officials who have been calling attention to the expense that public school systems incur from charters.

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MASD Board Praises Student Achievements

May 26, 2022 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Area School District board members continued their commitment to highlighting student achievement during this month’s meeting.

After asking attendees to observe 30 seconds of silence for those impacted by the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas, Board President Mindy Lundberg recalled recent board efforts to showcase student success and said, “We're going to continually try to highlight students every month.”

Charley Kiss, athletic and activities director, reported on the accomplishments of student athletes Kanye Thompson and Aaron Elm, calling the seniors “two of the hardest workers — the kids are on campus always running on that track and preparing.”

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Superintendent Resigns, Acting Head Named

May 26, 2022 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Less than a year after being signed to a new five-year contract, the superintendent of McKeesport Area School District has resigned to take a job in another district.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the school board accepted the resignation of Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr., effective June 30. Tia M. Wanzo was named acting superintendent, effective July 1.

Wanzo will receive an additional monthly stipend of $1,250 in addition to her present salary.

Beaver Area School District in Beaver County announced that Holtzman has been hired as its superintendent. Holtzman introduced himself to the district in a letter dated May 23.

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Local Officials Bid Farewell to GA Chancellor

May 25, 2022 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Penn State Greater Allegheny Chancellor Jacqueline Edmondson, state Sen. Jim Brewster, former Penn State University President Eric Barron and McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko during the 2019 ribbon-cutting for the Mon Valley LaunchBox, located at the former YWCA on Ninth Avenue. (Submitted photo courtesy state Sen. Jim Brewster)

Local officials are praising the chancellor of Penn State’s McKeesport campus following the announcement that she will step down June 30.

Jacqueline Edmondson has been named president of the University of Southern Maine in Portland. Edmondson has served as chancellor and chief academic officer of Penn State Greater Alllegheny since 2017. She begins her new role July 1.

Additional details about the leadership transition for Penn State Greater Allegheny will be shared soon, a spokesperson said.

Under Edmondson’s leadership, the McKeesport campus launched its “Crossing Bridges” summit series to explore racial and cultural divides in the region, completed a $14.7 million renovation of the Ostermayer Laboratory and created the “Mon Valley LaunchBox” to help small and start-up businesses.

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Advocates Urge Family, Friends: ‘Be There’ for Vets

May 25, 2022 |

By Emily Scott © Public News Service | Posted in: State & Region

May marks both Mental Health Awareness Month and Military Appreciation Month. In Pennsylvania, officials want to ensure that veterans know mental-health and substance-use resources are available.

Pennsylvania is home to nearly 800,000 military veterans, the fourth-largest veteran population in the country.

Rick Hamp, special assistant to the deputy adjutant general for veteran affairs at the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, leads military suicide-prevention efforts in the state.

He said veterans sometimes can face stigma if they speak openly about struggles with anxiety or depression. Knowing a loved one supports them can help, Hamp said.

“Always be there for your family members and for those around you,” he said. “You know what’s normal for a person, and if they don’t look normal, don’t be afraid to ask the question, ‘Are you OK?’ That is the start of helping a person. And be ready when they reply, ‘No, I’m not.’”

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Heritage Center Hosts Flea-Tique This Weekend

May 24, 2022 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

(Submitted photo courtesy McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center)

McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center will hold a “flea-tique” antique sale and flea market this Saturday and Sunday (May 28 and 29), a spokesperson said.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 12 noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the center, 1832 Arboretum Drive.

The sale is being organized by the center volunteers and proceeds benefit center activities. Items are being accepted for sale as well during regular business hours at the center, located in Renziehausen Park.

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W. Newton Library Hosts Summer Program

May 24, 2022 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: West Newton News

West Newton Public Library will hold its summer reading program from 10 to 11 a.m. June 15, 22 and 29 at the Lions Field Pavilion, 511 Pittsburgh St., a spokesperson said.

Each day there will be a snack, guest reader and a craft, rain or shine. The event is being coordinated by Lori Luppold. Parents or guardians must accompany smaller children.

Participants must register at WNPL by calling (724) 633-0798 or emailing westnewton@wlnonline.org.

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Man Killed After Chase, Shooting

May 20, 2022 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A city man is charged with criminal homicide after Allegheny County police said he followed his ex-girlfriend and shot at her car, which crashed into a building on Walnut Street in Versailles.

A passenger in the car, Ibrahim Diallo, 20, was pronounced dead at the scene, the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office said.

Although the cause and manner of death have not yet been released, police said Diallo was suffering from apparent gunshot wounds.

The suspected shooter, Tyrique Simmons, 21, of McKeesport is being held in the Allegheny County Jail pending formal arraignment.

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Northbound Duquesne Bridge Closure Announced

May 19, 2022 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements, Duquesne News

The northbound lane of the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge will close this weekend so that crews can continue repairs on the road surface and approach ramps.

A district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation said the closure will begin 7 p.m. Friday and continue through 5 a.m. Monday morning, weather-permitting. The work affects traffic traveling from McKeesport to Duquesne.

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‘United’ Effort Promises Benefits for Pupils, Families

May 19, 2022 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Guests at the launch event of United at Twin Rivers included Aimee Watters, executive director of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation; Tim Joyce, chief of staff for state Sen. Jim Brewster; Jackie Castma, associate executive director of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation; Brandy Daye, assistant principal, Twin Rivers; district superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr.; Tia Wanzo, assistant superintendent; state Rep. Austin Davis; McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko; amd state Rep. Nick Pisciottano. (Submitted photo)

McKeesport Area School District and the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation have symbolically broken ground on a new effort to support local students and their families.

The partnership was announced Thursday at Twin Rivers Elementary School, which will be renamed “United at Twin Rivers” beginning with the next academic year.

Investment from Dick’s will provide increased staffing, improved facilities and a restructured school day allowing greater individualized student support, said Sarah Cassella of Dick’s Sporting Goods. The model is designed to help students and families focus on building healthy minds, bodies and relationships, she said.

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Library Gears Up for Summer Reading Program

May 19, 2022 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Carnegie Library of McKeesport and its branches in White Oak and Duquesne are gearing up for its summer reading program.

Library director Vincent D’Alesio announced a kickoff party for the program will be held June 18. Professional magician Steve Haberman will bring his “Oceans of Adventure” magic show to the library that day at 1 p.m.  Registration is already available on the library website.

The library has also obtained a number of Kennywood tickets to use as incentive prizes this summer. 

“We’ll have opportunities to give them away as door prizes for various programs this summer, so the more programs you attend at the library, the better your chances will be of taking home fabulous gifts,” D’Alesio said.  “Summer reading, like last year, will again feature both an in-person and an online version so participants can log their reading time in either fashion.”

Donations also are being accepted in support of the program, he said. For more information, visit www.mckeesportlibrary.org/support-the-library/


Breitinger’s Flowers Announces Retirement Plans

May 18, 2022 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: White Oak News

Russ and Bernadette Breitinger have announced plans to retire from their family business, Breitinger’s Flowers in White Oak. Founded 76 years ago in McKeesport, the business is for sale and will close in June. (Submitted photo)

After 76 years in the blooming business, the Breitinger family is hanging up its pruning shears.

On Wednesday, Breitinger’s Flowers in White Oak announced plans to wind down operations next month. The last day of business will be June 25, said Bernadette Breitinger, wife of Russ Breitinger, whose father founded the business in 1946.

The first store — a one-room, one-person shop — was located on Versailles Avenue in McKeesport. Russ Breitinger took over the business, now located on Cool Springs Road at Route 48, in 1979.

“Our daughters and their families both live out-of-state, and we’d like to be freer to visit with our grandchildren,” Bernadette Breitinger said in a press release. “When you own a business, it actually owns you, and these 65-year-olds are worn out.”

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Scouts Add Shine to City’s Kennedy Park

May 18, 2022 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Larry Goughnour, a Boy Scout from North Huntingdon Twp., shows off one of the decayed boards that was replaced on a bench in McKeesport’s Kennedy Park. Goughnour organized a work day at the park as part of a service project for earning his Eagle Scout rank. (Tube City Almanac photo)

If Kennedy Park on Lysle Boulevard is looking a little shinier these days, thank a group of Boy Scouts from North Huntingdon Twp.

Members of Troop 251, attached to St. John's United Church of Christ in the township’s Larimer section, spent Saturday performing a variety of fix-up chores, including replacing wooden benches, trimming and shoring shrubbery and bushes, pressure washing a wall and painting about half of the 50-foot flagpole at the site.

The work was organized by Larry Goughnour, a member of Troop 251 and a student at Norwin High School. Goughnour arranged the project — with permission from McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko and city council — as part of his effort to earn a promotion to Eagle Scout.

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Humane Society Honors Local Natives

May 18, 2022 |

By Amy George | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Carol Whaley (above) and Tara Czekaj have been honored with the Pennsylvania Humane Policy Leader of the Year Award from the Humane Society of the United States. (Submitted photos)

Two Mon Valley natives have been honored with the Pennsylvania Humane Policy Leader of the Year award by the Humane Society of the United States.

The award, presented to Carol Whaley and Tara Czekaj, honors outstanding work in advancing high-priority federal, state and local animal protection policies.

Whaley and Czekaj were selected because of their partnership with Pittsburgh City Councilman Bobby Wilson, which resulted in a historic, city-wide ban on the declawing of cats.

“We are fortunate to have volunteers like Carol and Tara on our team,” said Kristen Tullo, HSUS Pennsylvania State Director, in a press release. “Their practical field knowledge, skills and experience are invaluable in animal policy making.”

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Sic Transit Gloria Murphy’s: Demolition Begins

May 16, 2022 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Tube City Almanac photos)

Demolition began Monday on the former G.C. Murphy Co. home office complex at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Sheridan Way, Downtown.

The complex includes the former Cumberland Presbyterian Church, a building along Lysle Boulevard once used as the Wernke Carriage Works, a three-story building once used as a shoe store, and two five-story structures, the Hartman and Ruben buildings. It was used as the headquarters for the G.C. Murphy Co. between 1906 and 1989.

The site also was the home of the first five-and-10 cent variety store ever opened by George C. Murphy, an Indiana County, Pa., native who relocated to McKeesport in 1899. Following Murphy’s death, the G.C. Murphy Co. grew to a chain of more than 500 stores in 24 states and Washington, D.C.

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Driver, 19, Questioned in City Man’s Death

May 15, 2022 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A McKeesport man died Saturday night after being hit by a car in the city’s East End and a 19-year-old driver is being questioned in connection with his death.

The Allegheny County medical examiner’s office said John May, 22, was struck near the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Lincoln Way just after 11 p.m. He died a short time later at UPMC McKeesport hospital, officials said.

Allegheny County police said the vehicle then fled the scene. County homicide and collision investigators responded to the scene.

The vehicle believed to have been involved in the crash was located at approximately 4 a.m. Sunday in Turtle Creek Borough, along with a woman who police believe was driving at the time. Her name has not been released.

Police said a decision on charges will be made by the Allegheny County district attorney’s office following the investigation. Any witnesses to the collision are being asked to call the county police tip line at 1-833-ALL-TIPS. Callers may remain anonymous.


McKeesport, EA Baseball Teams Savor Success

May 14, 2022 |

By Kristen Keleschenyi | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, North Versailles Twp. News, Sports

McKeesport Tigers varsity baseball players include, first row, Brady Boyle, Colin Scharritter, Duston Strom, Brayden Kovach, Jason Peterson and Ryan Tucker, and second row, Jaden Smith, Jake Miller, Logan Shiffler, Noah Marcic, Austin Riggs, Alex Reigh and Ricky Heyz. (Submitted photo)

For fans disappointed in the Pittsburgh Pirates, high school baseball is an exciting alternative in the Mon-Yough area.

For the first time in 23 years, East Allegheny High School’s Wildcats are section champs (WPIAL Division 3A) as they advance to the playoffs and for the first time in 21 years, McKeesport Area High School’s Tigers (WPIAL Division 5A) have earned a playoff spot in their conference.

But why has it been so long since these teams have had something big to celebrate? According to Ron Bishop, head coach of McKeesport’s varsity team for the past nine years, it takes a long time to create a competitive team. Sometimes his players are coming together, for the first time, at the high school level.

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2022’s ‘Top Doctors’ List Includes 3 From City

May 13, 2022 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Nearly 400 UPMC Health System physicians have been recognized as 2022’s “Top Doctors” across more than 60 different specialties.

The annually published Pittsburgh Magazine “Top Doctors” list is a selection of the region’s top physicians. Three of this year’s selections are from McKeesport.

The Top Doctors list is compiled by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., a healthcare research and information company founded in 1991, and is merit-based.

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Council OK’s Renzie Park Improvements

May 12, 2022 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A new roof and restrooms will be installed at the Lions Bandshell in Renziehausen Park this summer.

City council this month awarded a $175,000 contract to Kucich Construction of McKeesport for several projects in the park, including replacement of the roof on the bandshell at a cost of $47,000, replacement of the restrooms at a cost of $52,000, a new roof on the concession stand at Jamie Brewster-Filotei Field at a cost of $35,000.

Kucich also will be replacing the deck and steps at Brewster-Filotei Field, as well as the siding on the concession stand.

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Pa. Officials Welcome Action on ‘Ghost Guns’

May 03, 2022 |

By Emily Scott © Public News Service | Posted in: State & Region

Pennsylvania stands ready to implement a new Biden administration federal rule on ghost-gun regulations at the state level.

Ghost guns are unserialized firearms that can be bought online and assembled at home, making them untraceable. The Biden regulation will ensure partially manufactured frames and receivers require a background check at the point of sale, along with requiring dealers and gunsmiths in the state to serialize and inventory any unregistered firearms coming into their businesses.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said ghost guns are fueling the gun-violence crisis in the state.

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NAMI Slates May Meeting at PSGA

May 03, 2022 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

The McKeesport affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday (May 4) at Penn State Greater Allegheny, Room F122,  Frable Building, a spokeswoman said.

The meeting is open to families and friends of loved ones living with mental illness.

An update on various NAMI virtual conferences and other activities will be given. Attendees may participate in the care and share session and exchange information.

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County Parks Again Collect Glass for Recycling

May 03, 2022 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Allegheny County’s parks department will partner with the Pennsylvania Resources Council for a second year to offer its Traveling Glass Recycling Bin Program.

Collection bins will be located in each park for six days, from 7 a.m. to sundown, to allow residents a resource to recycle glass.

Dates in the Mon-Yough area include:

• Boyce Park, June 18–23, ski lodge parking lot
• Round Hill Park, July 16–21, main parking lot near duck pond
• South Park, Aug. 13–18, VIP lot, Corrigan and 100 Acres drives
• White Oak Park, Nov. 12–17, Chestnut Shelter parking lot, McClintock Road

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Local Man Sought in Dragging Incident

May 03, 2022 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Crime and Police News

Allegheny County police are still looking for a man who is accused of dragging a police officer from a car for more than 200 feet along Route 51.

The car involved in the incident was located in Braddock on Monday, but the person who was operating the car, shown above, remains at large, said county police Sgt. Todd Dolfi. He is believed to be from the Mon-Yough area, police said.

Early Saturday morning, Whitehall police stopped a suspected drunken-driver on Route 51 near Baldwin High School. The driver was taken into custody without incident, police said.

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37 to Receive Degrees at GA Commencement

May 02, 2022 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

UPDATED Monday night with news that David Newell’s appearance has been postponed.

The spring commencement for Penn State University’s Greater Allegheny Campus will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Wunderley Gymnasium. Jacqueline Edmondson, chancellor and chief academic officer, will preside over the ceremony and recognize 37 candidates with degrees.

Namy-Paul Kihonia Makiese will deliver the student commencement address. Makiese, who is earning a bachelor’s in information sciences & technology from PSGA, is a student athlete who has captained the men’s soccer team for the past three seasons.

He also set the Penn State Greater Allegheny school record for the 200-meter and 60-meter track events. An active member of the Pan-African Union, Makiese is the son of Samuel Kihonia Makiese and Nancy Manzeke Nzasa.

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Coulterville Road Closing Tuesday

May 02, 2022 |

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

Coulterville Road in White Oak will be closed at Lincoln Way beginning Tuesday (May 3) so that crews can replace a bridge, the Allegheny County Department of Public Works announced.

The closure begins at 9 a.m., a spokesman said, and is scheduled to continue through October. It will affect only a short stretch of the road near Lincoln Way Supply.

Crews are replacing a bridge over Long Run and also paving and installing new guide rail and signage, the county said. The $949,777 project will be done by Pugliano Construction Co., Inc., of Plum.

The posted detour includes Lincoln Way, Maus Drive, Clay Pike, Robbins Station Road and Ridge Road.


Stopped Trains Vex 10th Ward Neighbors

May 01, 2022 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

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

“Try to sleep,” said Alvin Decker of this CSX Railroad train that was parked — engines still running — behind his home for 72 hours last week. A federal spokeswoman said there are no regulations about how long a train can idle. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Alvin Decker has lived in the city’s 10th Ward since 1950 — long enough ago to remember when steam engines pounded the rails on the tracks behind his Pacific Avenue home.

But the noise, he said, was nothing like the racket created by CSX Railroad’s diesel engines when they park — still running — for hours, and sometimes days, at a time.

It happens several times a month, said Decker and other neighbors.

Last week, a CSX freight train stopped Wednesday morning with its diesel engines running. It didn’t leave until Friday afternoon — more than 72 hours later.

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