Germaine Gooden-Patterson from Women for a Healthy Environment is arranging her table of information and pamphlets. She said, “Health is important and people may not know about all the resources available.” (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)
Take Action Mon Valley hosted a resource fair on Saturday in the parking lot of New Beginnings Ministry, Inc.
The resource fair focused on McKeesport’s Hi View Gardens residents but everyone was welcome to attend the event. TAMV hosted the fair to introduce residents to resources they may not have been aware of and to provide a fun-filled day for children.
Residents have been working with the Community Justice Project, a nonprofit legal assistance firm, addressing poor living conditions that were not being corrected by previous management, said Fawn Walker-Montgomery, executive director of TAMV.
She said there’s some improvement but TAMV continues their support for the community.
The McKeesport affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness will not meet in July, a spokeswoman said.
The group will resume meeting on August 3 at 6 p.m. at Penn State Greater Allegheny Room F122 in the Frable Building. The meeting is open to families and friends of loved ones living with mental illness.
Sara Levine Steinberg, Event and Technology Coordinator for NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania, will provide details for the annual NAMI Walk in October.
Investigators were searching for clues on Thursday following a devastating Soles Street fire that destroyed four homes. Officials suspect the fire was deliberately set.
The Allegheny County fire marshal’s office is probing the cause of the blaze, which was reported just after 2 a.m. and also destroyed a parked vehicle. Some crews remained on the scene until almost noon.
Two McKeesport police officers — identified as Patrolmen Chuck Thomas and Anthony Ledonne — were credited with rescuing an elderly married couple from one of the houses that was on fire.
The husband and wife were taken to UPMC McKeesport hospital as a precautionary measure, said Gene Esken Jr., McKeesport deputy fire chief.
A tip received via Facebook led McKeesport police to arrest a Crawford County man whom they allege was having an inappropriate relationship with a city teen-ager.
Glen M. Stevens Jr., 34, of Cochranton, Pa., was arrested Wednesday and is being held in the Allegheny County Jail without bond pending a preliminary hearing July 11 before Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi.
McKeesport police said officers received a tip via Facebook that a man identified as Stevens had been having explicit physical contact with a 15-year-old girl and that he was currently at the teen’s residence in the East End of the city.
A McKeesport man remains free on bond pending a preliminary hearing after city police allege he crashed the car he was driving into a work zone on the Jerome Avenue Bridge, seriously injuring one woman and endangering 14 others, who ran or jumped out of the way.
Harry B. Hobson, 60, is charged with aggravated assault by vehicle, driving under the influence, careless driving, reckless driving and 15 counts of recklessly endangering other persons.
A hearing is scheduled for July 25 before Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi. Hobson is currently free on $5,000 bond.
A Braddock-based construction company has final approval to move into the Duquesne industrial park.
At its June meeting, city council approved plans for Mele & Mele & Sons to move into RIDC City Center of Duquesne.
Founded nearly 50 years ago as A.A. Mele & Sons, Mele & Mele & Sons specializes in excavation, heavy highway construction, water and wastewater treatment, and asphalt paving and milling. The move was first proposed in late 2020.
Mele & Mele is not the only company interested in the industrial park. Mayor R. Scott Adams noted that the city is one of the “two or three finalists” for an unnamed battery company to move into Duquesne.
According to local officials, delays in receiving necessary materials are forcing Amazon to postpone the opening of its new North Versailles Twp. distribution center, located on the site of the former Eastland Mall. The company declined comment. (Kristen Keleschenyi photo for Tube City Almanac)
A new Amazon distribution center at the site of the former Eastland Mall is expected to create up to 500 new jobs, but North Versailles Twp. officials said the planned opening has been delayed.
The facility along East Pittsburgh-McKeesport Boulevard was expected to be open later this summer, but the timeline has changed, township commissioners said.
“There’s a delay in the opening and it’s not because they don’t want to open it,” said township Commissioner Allen Wagner.
Take Action Mon Valley, a social justice non-profit organization that addresses violence and racism, is hosting a resource fair on Saturday targeted at residents of Hi-View Gardens, Downtown.
Events will begin 2 p.m. in the parking lot of New Beginnings Ministry, Inc., 705 Shaw Ave.
Although the resource fair is focused on Hi-View Gardens residents, everyone is welcome to attend.
The executive director of TAMV, Fawn Walker-Montgomery, said, “TAMV was contacted by PublicSource and they asked us to work with residents at Hi-View Gardens because of concerns with poor living conditions.”
McKeesport Area School District has extended the role of a consultant who has been working with students, parents and teachers to address problems such as absenteeism, and make sure everyone’s voices are heard.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the MASD school board voted to continue a collaboration with Erika Gold Kestenberg, a diversity, inclusion, equity and justice consultant.
Kestenberg, who holds a doctorate in education from the University of Pittsburgh, has been working in the district since December 2021, establishing stakeholder committees and holding student-centered listening sessions.
Funding for her position is being provided by federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds as well as the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation.
McKeesport Area School Board has approved the district’s budget for the 2022-23 academic year.
The $79.8 million spending plan keeps property taxes at the current millage rate of 20.96 mills. In 2021-22, each mill generated approximately $1.2 million in revenue for the district, according to Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein.
At Wednesday’s meeting, School Directors Jim Brown, Dan Goughnour, Steve Kondrosky, Mindy Lundberg and LaToya Brown voted to approve the spending plan, while School Director Dave Donato, Diane Elias, Matt Holtzman and Joe Lopretto voted no.
Last month, district officials said they expected to end the 2021-22 academic year with an $11 million fund balance, or surplus.
Some “Twelfth Night” cast members have more than one role. From left, assistant director Kinsley Beachler also portrays Feste and a priest, in a scene with Ella Mizera (Sebastian/Officer) and Madeline Sclichter (Olivia/Valentine). (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac)
If you go...
William Shakespeare’s ”Twelfth Night,” presented by Young Shakespeare Society of Pittsburgh
Where: McKeesport Little Theater, 1614 Coursin St.
When: Friday, June 24 and Saturday, June 25 at 7 p.m.; Sunday, June 26 at 2 p.m.
One of William Shakespeare’s classic comedies soon will grace the stage at McKeesport Little Theater, with several twists to definitely provide audiences with a different perspective.
Back in The Bard’s day, Twelfth Night marked one last hurrah as the official end of the winter holidays on the twelfth night after Christmas.
Cast and crew of Young Shakespeare Society of Pittsburgh present their interpretation of “Twelfth Night” beginning Friday (June 24) and running through Sunday (June 26). There’s definitely some partying going on, but with contemporary clothing for costumes befitting teen and college-age revelers.
YSSP was co-founded in 2019 by Theo Fantozzi and Ella Mizera, to provide teens and young adults with performing, directing and designing experience in Shakespeare productions.
Scholarship winner Grace Walker (Submitted photo courtesy George and Fawn Montgomery)
A McKeesport Area High School graduate is one of 10 recipients of this year’s James R. Roebuck Scholarships from the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus.
Grace Walker, Class of 2022, will receive the $1,000 award during a virtual ceremony Thursday morning. The awards may be viewed online or via Facebook.
“Grace is a fantastic student but an even better person,” said Dale McCall, head principal at McKeesport Area High School. “She has a very bright future ahead of her, and North Carolina A&T is very lucky to have her.”
Duquesne City Council has approved pay hikes for starting police officers in an attempt to fill some vacancies in the force.
With a unanimous vote, the starting hourly wage for a new officer in the city will be $21.25, up from $19.10. As part of the measure, three current officers will see their hour wage increase to $22.75.
“We are down two or three officers,” said Mayor Scott Adams. The increases will cost the borough an additional $7,000. Adams said other options would have cost the borough as much as $60,000 “and we weren’t going to do that.”
The two-day race is an overnight 150-mile relay run that begins at 10 a.m. Oct. 14 in Cumberland, Md., and ends at 4 p.m. Oct. 15 on Pittsburgh’s South Side. The trail is divided into different legs with each runner contributing at their own skill level.
This is the fifth year for the event, which began in 2018. The event was virtual-only in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bryan Perry, executive director of the Great Allegheny Passage Conservancy, said McKeesport and Duquesne will be critical exchange zones, where runners with fresh legs will take over for their tired team members.
Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race is garnering national attention, with Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz running to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. A new report examines how outside spending from political action committees (PACs) and national donors affects voters.
The report from American Promise includes recent survey results that say more than 70 percent of Pennsylvanians think big donors have too much political influence.
As they can expect to see hundreds of millions of dollars poured into political ads for the Senate race, Bill Cortese of American Promise said “dark money” can create a sense of mistrust among voters.
A McKeesport man is being held without bond in the Allegheny County Jail on charges connected to a shooting Saturday morning in Duquesne.
Deandre Hawkins, 28, faces a preliminary hearing June 23 before Magisterial District Judge Richard D. Olasz Jr. after being charged by Allegheny County police with aggravated assault, simple assault, strangulation and reckless endangerment.
Police said the incident happened near the intersection of Viola Avenue and South Fifth Street, where first-responders responded to reports of a shooting. They found evidence at the scene, but no victim, police said.
Allegheny County police are investigating an accident that injured a woman in a wheelchair on Monday afternoon.
Witnesses said the victim was crossing Lysle Boulevard near Coursin Street just after 3 p.m. when she was struck by Cadillac Escalade SUV.
According to bystanders, the woman and her wheelchair were pinned by the vehicle. She was extricated by McKeesport firefighters and McKeesport Ambulance Rescue Service, witnesses said, and was taken to the hospital.
Police said she was listed in critical condition. Her name was not released by police.
The county police Homicide Unit and Collision Reconstruction Unit responded to the scene to assist McKeesport police.
Investigators said the driver of the Cadillac remained on the scene and is cooperating with police. Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to call the county police Tip Line at 1-833-ALL-TIPS. Callers can remain anonymous.
The deadline for older adults and residents with disabilities to apply for rent or property tax rebates has been extended until Dec. 31, the state Department of Revenue has announced.
The state’s Property Tax & Rent Rebate Program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 or older, widows and widowers age 50 or older, and people with disabilities age 18 or older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security income is excluded.
The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975.
Police are investigating a crash between a Pittsburgh Regional Transit bus and a car that temporarily closed the Mansfield Bridge on Wednesday night and sent two people to the hospital.
Transit agency spokesman Adam Brandolph said a 61C McKeesport bus in-bound to the city collided with a car as it exited the bridge onto West Fifth Avenue. The wreck happened just after 9 p.m.
The bus operator was taken by ambulance to UPMC McKeesport hospital for treatment after suffering chest and head injuries, Brandolph said. The operator’s name and condition were not available on Thursday.
Megan Nagel, an associate professor of chemistry and associate chief academic officer, will serve as interim chancellor of Penn State Greater Allegheny Campus, the university has announced. (Submitted photo courtesy Penn State University)
A national search has begun for a new chancellor of Penn State’s McKeesport campus.
Megan Nagel, an associate professor of chemistry and a member of the faculty since 2010, will serve as the interim chancellor of Penn State Greater Allegheny through June 30, 2023.
Nagel succeeds Penn State Greater Allegheny Chancellor Jacqueline Edmondson, who has stepped down to become the president of the University of Southern Maine.
“Penn State Greater Allegheny is an exceptional and diverse community of motivated students, faculty scholars and dedicated staff,” Nagel said in a prepared release. “I am honored to serve the campus in this interim role.”
The two Mikes — Jones and Kostyzak — behind the counter at Zak’s Bicycle Sales and Repair in Christy Park. The shop has become a landmark for cyclists using the Great Allegheny Passage between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Md. (Jason Mignanelli photo for Tube City Almanac)
What started out as a tiny bicycle repair shop in a 900 square foot basement of an apartment building has grown into a successful landmark for cyclists just off the Great Allegheny Passage Trail in McKeesport at mile 132.5.
Glassport native Mike Kostyzak opened Zak’s Bicycle Sales and Repair on October 31, 2009, with only $2,800 to his name.
“I guess the way it worked was, I had been getting laid off at different jobs and it was getting frustrating. I thought to myself, ‘Geez, I can fail on my own. I might as well give something a try on my own,’” said Kostyzak.
“I decided on the bike shop because I had always been into cycling. My older brother Bill taught me how to work on bikes out behind our house as kids. We’d work on the old Schwinn’s and stuff like that,” he said.
As the number of Pennsylvania students with disabilities rises, a new report says the share of state education funding has declined. Education advocates say state lawmakers can use this year’s budget surplus to support the students.
In 2008, Pennsylvania contributed close to one-third of the total cost of special education, but by 2020 that amount dropped to 22 percent.
And meanwhile, costs have gone up for every school district, according to Sharon Ward, senior policy advisor with the Education Law Center, which published the report.
The Little Wretches will give a benefit concert Saturday (June 4) to support the McKeesport Little Theater Juniors.
A spokesman said the concert also will showcase the folk-rock group’s album, “Red Beets & Horseradish.”
The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at McKeesport Little Theater, 1614 Coursin St. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.
“Red Beets & Horseradish” is named after a relish or side-dish usually served around the holidays of Easter or Passover by various ethnicities of Eastern Europe. The Little Wretches are an acoustic ensemble whose songs tell stories of their Mon Valley roots.
The songs on the album involve vignettes and portraits of people who’ve suffered—old people, sick people, crazy people, people who are alone—but the heart of the songs lies not in the suffering of the characters but in the indomitable faith and humor that sustains them.
For more information about The Little Wretches, visit their website or find them on Facebook.
Vincent D’Alesio, director of Carnegie Library of McKeesport, accepts a $200 donation from Ernie Oatneal, president of the McKeesport Lions Club, during an event last week at McKees Point Cafe. (Submitted photo)
McKeesport Lions Club has made donations to seven local charities, many of them with vision-related missions.
A spokeswoman said $200 donations were made to Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind, Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh, Leader Dogs for the Blind, Carnegie Free Library of McKeesport, Beacon Lodge Camp near Mt. Union, Lions Club International Foundation and Pennsylvania Lions Sight Conservation & Eye Research Foundation.
The money is excess generated from Lions Club activities over the past 12 months and each club is asked to donate any “profit” to other groups at the end of the Lions Club International year, the spokeswoman said.
West Newton Borough has posted upcoming events for June and beyond:
Vacation Bible School Scheduled
First Church of God, 157 N. Second St., will hold Vacation Bible School entitled “Food Truck Party” from June 12 to 16. Ages 3 through adult. Please register to attend by telephoning (724) 872-7467. All are welcome to attend Sunday morning worship at 10:30 a.m., including junior church for youth. The worship service is live streamed on Facebook each week.
Matt Gergely, president of the board of McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center; Duane Michals; and McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko during their recent meeting. (Tube City Almanac photo)
McKeesport native and world-renowned artist Duane Michals recently celebrated his 90th birthday. But he’s the one who wants to offer a gift.
A photographer and storyteller whose portraits are on display in galleries and museums around the world, Michals, who now lives in New York City, has created a proposal for what he calls the “McKeesport Pipe Palace.”
A child of steelworkers, Michals closely relates to the industrial history of the Mon Valley and the citizens who contributed to it.
“If you go to Pittsburgh, you have the Carnegie Museum and the Frick Museum. There’s no kind of salute to the people who did all the work in the mills for decades,” Michals says. “I want to remind everyone what once happened there (McKeesport), who those people were, and how hard they worked.”