A fire Wednesday night damaged a Penny Street apartment house owned by a city non-profit agency.
Just before 8 p.m., multiple callers to Allegheny County emergency dispatchers reported that the rear of a two-story building in the 300 block of Penny Street owned by First Step Recovery Homes Inc.
When the first crews arrived, fire was visible on the back wall of the building and was spreading up toward the roof, McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik said.
A second alarm was sounded and additional firefighters responded from Allegheny County Airport, Duquesne Annex, Glassport Citizens Hose Co., Liberty Borough, Port Vue Vigilant Hose Co. and White Oak No. 1.
The McKeesport robotics team poses after qualifying for a championship at the Miami Valley Regional FIRST Robotics competition at Xavier University in Cincinnati. (Submitted photo courtesy Team 1708)
The robotics team based at McKeesport Area High School is headed to the world championship in Texas next month.
Amp’D Robotics — McKeesport-based FIRST Robotics Team 1708 — was chosen to compete for trophies and cash prizes from April 19 to 22 at the annual FIRST Robotics Competition in Houston.
FIRST — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — is an international organization that sanctions science, engineering and robotics clubs and contests for high school students.
Co-lead mentor and former team member Jason Mols has been mentoring and coaching the team since 2014. A mechanical engineer by trade who works for RE2 Robotics, Mols shares the mentoring duties with Derek Price another former member of the team.
“We are based out of McKeesport High School, but we have students from four local high schools on our team,” Mols said. Also represented are students from East Allegheny, Elizabeth Forward and Norwin plus one home-schooled student, he said.
McKeesport Area junior Cameron Goldinger and his brother, senior Dillon Goldinger, have been with the program since 9th grade. Their dad, Chris Goldinger of McKeesport, has now seen four of his kids go through the program.
A video produced by Divine Restoration Church of God in Christ is being used to introduce the “Wake Up!” campaign to Duquesne. Organizers are hoping the message takes root in McKeesport, as well. (YouTube)
Rallies in McKeesport and Duquesne this week will bring together multiple faiths and community organizations in an effort to urge young people to “Wake Up!” from their apathy and work to reduce gun violence.
Walkers will gather at 1:30 p.m. Thursday (March 30) at the Healthy Village Learning Institute, located at the former St. Pius V School, then walk along Versailles Avenue to the Family Dollar store at 3215 Versailles Ave.
“We timed this so that kids would be coming home from school about that time,” says the Rev. Jessica McClure Archer, pastor of Sampson’s Mills Presbyterian Church in White Oak. “We want to tell them, ‘wake up, you’re beautiful, you’re smart.’ We want to speak into the void of hopelessness so many of them are feeling.”
That walk is open to the public.
On Friday, Duquesne School District teachers and staff will attend a separate event being organized by the Rev. Eric Ewell, pastor of Divine Restoration Church of God in Christ and director of continuing education at Penn State Greater Allegheny Campus.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was corrected after publication to clarify that the move was made at no cost to the McKeesport 23 committee.*
A monument that honors 23 McKeesport-area veterans who lost their lives during the Vietnam War has been relocated from the campus of McKeesport Area High School to a more accessible location.
Organizers are planning a re-dedication at 3 p.m. May 13 when the monument is unveiled outside the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center in Renziehausen Park.
An indoor reception will follow the outdoor celebration.
Joe Hoffman, a member of the McKeesport 23 committee, says the monument was originally placed in the high school courtyard because most of the veterans honored were McKeesport Area High School graduates.
But over the years, access to the monument has been restricted due to safety concerns about allowing visitors onto the campus, he says. The monument also hasn’t been accessible during weekends or school holidays.
The whole cast dances all out to one of the many musical numbers in “All Shook Up.” (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac.)
If you go...
“All Shook Up”
Where: McKeesport Area High School, 1960 Eden Park Blvd.
When: Thursday, March 30, Friday, March 31, and Saturday, April 1 at 7 p.m., with an additional Saturday, April 1 matinee at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens. Available by emailing email@example.com, or in person at the high school through Friday from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m.
While almost all adults have at least heard – and many may have a favorite – Elvis Presley song, that isn’t necessarily true for all teens.
That’s unless those teens are in the cast, crew, or orchestra pit for McKeesport Area High School’s spring musical “All Shook Up,” which opens Thursday (March 30).
Characterized as an “American jukebox musical,” it was written in 2004 and premiered on Broadway the following year. And while “All Shook Up” is inspired by and features the music of Elvis, the storyline is not about Presley. The male lead character is Chad (Collin Klein), who arrives as a stranger on a motorcycle to a conservative town in the Midwest circa 1950s.
While his bike is getting repaired by mechanic Natalie Haller (Kaitlyn Majewski), Chad looks for some excitement, only to learn about the town’s Mamie Eisenhower Decency Act, which prohibits things such as “loud music, public necking, and tight pants.”
At Wednesday’s meeting, the McKeesport Area School Board welcomed high school students who are appearing in “All Shook Up.” The school musical, which is inspired by the life of Elvis Presley and features the songs he made famous, will be presented at McKeesport Area High School Auditorium, 1960 Eden Park Blvd., this March 30, 31 and April 1.
Nearly 20 students sang “All Shook Up” and “Can't Help Falling in Love.” Both numbers received a standing ovation from the board.
Below, retired McKeesport police Officer Ralph Johnson has been hired to work as a school police resource officer at Founders’ Hall Middle School.
(All photos: Adam Reinherz for Tube City Almanac)
Adam Reinherz is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
A video circulating on social media that allegedly showed a McKeesport Area School District security guard napping on the job turned into a point of contention at the school board meeting.
“What is wrong with security at this school?” asked former school director Mark Holtzman Sr., who is running in the May 16 primary to reclaim his seat on the school board. He called it “a disaster waiting to happen.”
“When a security guard is sleeping, laying around, half-dressed, bellies hanging out, I mean come on,” Holtzman said. “Stuff gotta be done.”
The school board said it is taking steps to resolve complaints, including the approval this month of a contract with a new school security firm that will eventually provide 14 guards to the district.
The North Versailles Twp. Parks & Recreation Department has announced a full schedule of events for April:
North Versailles Twp. children can enjoy Art and Apple Juice for free at the North Versailles Community Center from 6 to 8 p.m. April 4. Groups will be sectioned into grades K-3 and 4-6. Students will be instructed by East Allegheny High School art students and teachers on how to paint an age-appropriate painting. Kids can paint pictures to take home while enjoying snacks and juice. Goodwill donations will be accepted for the EAHS Art Scholarship fund.
The North Versailles Twp. Parks & Recreation Department will hold an Easter Egg Hunt at Crestas Park, 2298 Milligan St., from 12 noon to 2 p.m. April 8. Kids will enjoy outdoor games and a magician show, while Bud Bunny will be available for a meet and greet. RSVP to email@example.com or call (412) 823-6602 ext. 104 by April 5.
As a public service, Tube City Community Media Inc. again will make available this space as a free, public outlet for local political candidates — although there are rules attached.
If you know any political candidates, please let them know of this opportunity. Deadline is May 1; announcements will be published at Tube City Almanac in the order they arrive.
Any candidate for a municipal (city, borough or township) or school board office in the Duquesne City, East Allegheny, McKeesport Area, South Allegheny or West Mifflin Area school districts* may submit a candidate announcement or statement for publication at Tube City Almanac.
Profiles received after the deadline will be published at the editor’s option, time permitting.
Please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org; U.S. mail them to Tube City Almanac, P.O. Box 94, McKeesport, PA 15134; or drop them off during regular business hours at Tube City Community Media, 409 Walnut St., Suite 200, McKeesport. (Please do not send them as a text message, or as a Facebook message. Handwritten entries and phone calls are not acceptable.)
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Lane restrictions and delays are possible beginning Monday while crews inspect the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge.
Steve Cowan, district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said workers from AECOM will conduct bridge inspection activities from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays until April 7, weather permitting.
Meanwhile, delays also are likely on Route 837 near Kennywood while workers complete repairs to the pedestrian tunnel connecting the amusement park to the parking lot.
Single-lane restrictions are possible in both directions between Hoffman Boulevard and Glencairn Street, from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., beginning Monday and continuing through March 30, PennDOT said.
Crews from JET Excavating Co. are conducting the work.
Motorists should be prepared for changing traffic patterns, a PennDOT spokeswoman said.
The seven major-party candidates for Allegheny County Executive have been invited to participate in a forum on Wednesday at the Palisades Ballroom, Downtown.
The non-partisan event begins at 6:30 p.m. and is being sponsored by the Steel Rivers Council of Governments, Turtle Creek Valley Council of Governments, and the Tri-COG Land Bank, said Keegan Gibson, spokesman.
Topics will include the candidates’ vision for the Mon Valley and eastern suburban region; fighting blighted properties; land banking; code enforcement; the role of COGs and the county in inter-municipal cooperation; economic development of large, post-industrial sites; and more.
Topics were determined in consultation with local elected officials, Gibson said.
A Duquesne man accused of shooting a city police officer is headed to court.
At a preliminary hearing Thursday morning before Magisterial District Judge Richard D. Olasz Jr. in West Mifflin, Shyhiem Cortez Berry, 28, was ordered held for court on charges of attempted murder of a law-enforcement officer, aggravated assault, making terroristic threats and criminal trespass.
Berry is charged by Allegheny County police in connection with an incident in Duquesne early on the morning of Feb. 22. According to the criminal complaint, police were called to the area of Catherine and Ferndale streets at 12:11 a.m. for reports of a rideshare driver being threatened with a gun.
Photo: Ma’s Pantry volunteers Debbie Griffith (treasurer), Karen Kane, Louise Beswick (secretary), Paula Greenwald, Nikesh Datta, John Hall and Alan Eichler (president) with their certificate from State Senator Jim Brewster’s office. (Kristen Keleschenyi photo for Tube City Almanac)
A local food pantry is celebrating 40 years of helping their neighbors in need.
Ma’s Pantry was created in 1983 by the Ministerial Association of North Versailles and East McKeesport.
The association was made up of five churches including Broadway Alliance, First United Methodist, Linway Presbyterian, Saint John’s Evangelical Lutheran and Saint Robert Bellarmine Roman Catholic Church. This multi-denominational effort was unprecedented at the time but the need in the community went beyond religious affiliations.
“They did not think it would last 40 years,” says Karen Kane, who has been volunteering with the pantry since 2004. “They thought it would meet the immediate need of the mills shutting down, but the whole country has been economically challenged.”
New traffic lights installed at the entrance to the former Eastland Mall aren’t configured correctly, residents of Maryland Avenue told North Versailles Twp. commissioners this month.
At the township commission’s March meeting, residents said the signals at the intersection of Maryland Avenue and East Pittsburgh-McKeesport Boulevard were installed in anticipation of a new Amazon distribution center opening at the property, but the job isn’t finished.
That said that motorists who turn left from Maryland onto the boulevard are immediately confronted with a red light. This configuration causes confusion about whether you should stop immediately after making the left turn or continue.
Auditions will be held this week at McKeesport Little Theater for the group’s upcoming presentation of “Dearly Departed” by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones.
Acting auditions will be open on Friday and Saturday, and musical auditions will be open Sunday. To sign-up, visit the website. MLT is located at 1614 Coursin St.
The show, set in a small-town in the Southern United States, debuted off-Broadway in 1991 and has become a community theater favorite since then. The story revolves around the Turpin siblings, who have difficulty pulling themselves together and preparing a funeral for their deceased father.
Two student-journalists from Penn State’s campus in McKeesport have received Student Keystone Media Awards from the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association.
Yousuf Ibrahim and Carlin Whalen, both students at Greater Allegheny Campus, will be honored during an awards luncheon April 26 in Harrisburg. Both write for the campus newspaper, the GA-Zette.
Whalen received an honorable mention in the category of “Ongoing News Coverage” for his series of campus updates on the transition process after former Greater Allegheny Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Jacqueline Edmondson stepped down. Whalen meets regularly with Megan Nagel, interim chancellor and chief academic officer, to keep readers informed of campus initiatives.
The Allegheny County elections division has released the list of candidates who have filed nominating petitions to run in the May 16 primary election.
Pennsylvania is a closed-primary state, meaning that only registered voters who have chosen one of the major political parties may vote for candidates in a primary election.
Winners of each party’s primary will face off in the general election Nov. 7.
Voters in many municipalities will be choosing members of their borough councils or township commissions as well as members of their school boards, while others will be choosing mayors and magisterial district judges.
School board and judicial elections are considered non-partisan, so candidates may choose to file in both parties’ primaries, or in just one.
The last day to register to vote in the primary is May 1. To register or to verify your voter registration, visit the state’s voter services website.
Pittsburgh and surrounding neighborhoods continue to be desirable locations to shoot films of all genres and budgets.
The region “has a little bit of everything,” said film producer and writer Mark Cantu. “You can be in a very urban environment one minute and then drive 20 minutes away and be in a very rural farming community.”
Cantu recently completed his upcoming horror-comedy, “Wolf Hollow,” filmed in and around McKeesport and North Versailles Twp.
The movie, which will premiere April 1 at Dormont’s Hollywood Theater, follows a group of filmmakers as they journey to the fictional location of “Wolf Hollow,” searching for an area to shoot a new film only to discover that they are surrounded by a family of werewolves and must fight for their survival.
A fugitive wanted in connection with murder in South Carolina was arrested during an early-morning raid in the city.
Travis Robert Burton, 24, of St. Helena Island, S.C., was found by McKeesport police and the U.S. Marshal’s Service hiding in the basement of a house in the 600 block of Romine Avenue.
Court records showed no obvious link between Burton and the Mon Valley. It was unclear why he was hiding out in the city.
Andrew Knapp of the Charleston County, S.C., sheriff’s office told Tube City Almanac that Burton was wanted in connection with the Jan. 14 slaying of Jarnaro Middleton, 65, of Johns Island, S.C., in the backyard of a home there.
East Allegheny School Board has approved the public sale and auction of the former Green Valley School, located at 3290 Crestview Drive in North Versailles Twp.
Built in 1951, Green Valley School formerly educated kindergarteners through third graders. When the school closed in 2016, those students were combined with those at Logan Middle School, making Logan a K-6 facility.
The sale was authorized by 9-0 vote at this month’s meeting.
The district is asking for a minimum bid of $499,900 for the school and the successful bidder must get final approval from the board on the intended use of the building.
East Allegheny School Board will add its voices to those of other school districts asking the Pennsylvania General Assembly to reform its charter-school funding formula.
The school board by 9-0 vote this week approved a resolution to be sent to the state legislature. School directors said they regard as unfair the method used to calculate how much districts must pay for charter school tuition.
At a committee meeting earlier this month, school directors said the current formulas require school districts to send more money to charter schools than they need to operate their programs, significantly burdening each district’s resources and taxpayers.
A former city man pleaded guilty in federal court Monday in connection with drug and firearms charges.
Raymar McKenzie, 34, faces a possible life sentence and up to a $2 million fine, said a spokeswoman for acting U.S. Attorney Troy Rivetti. Sentencing before U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan is scheduled for June 26.
Court records also list an address for McKenzie in Duquesne.
Prosecutors allege that on three separate occasions in August and September 2020, McKenzie sold fentanyl and crack cocaine to an undercover Allegheny County police officer.
In an effort to improve transparency and provide residents more information about the region’s air quality, the Allegheny County Health Department has launched a new dashboard dedicated to tracking hydrogen sulfide.
The dashboard, which was created in partnership with CountyStat, displays up-to-date information from the county’s two hydrogen sulfide monitoring sites located in North Braddock and Liberty Borough, a spokesman said.
Other information on the webpage explains the state’s hydrogen sulfide regulations and what the health department’s Air Quality Program is doing to monitor and enforce Pennsylvania’s standards.
The Allegheny County Hydrogen Sulfide Dashboard is available on the county’s website.
More than 8.7 million Pennsylvania voters could participate in the local municipal primaries on May 16.
Meghan Pierce, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, said every ballot will look a little different, depending on where you live. LWV is encouraging people to do some research before casting their ballot, to determine how the races could affect their lives.
“Whether or not you have a kid in school, you probably care about how your public school education system is funded,” Pierce said. “If you have a lot of potholes in your street, and you want to know why that is, you know, maybe look into what's going on with your city council. In Philadelphia, for example, there's going to be a mayor’s rac — very active election, lots of candidates running.”
She said Pennsylvania does not have same-day voter registration. You have to register before the strict deadline of May 1 to vote in the primary. The last day to request a mail-in or absentee ballot is May 9.
After months of consideration, Duquesne officials announced that they have chosen names for their portion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway.
The main stretch of expressway that is set to travel through the city will be dubbed, “The Duquesne Veterans Memorial Highway,” while the connector to Route 837 will be named in memory of longtime municipal leaders Carl and Rosemary Denne. “It’s a way to show appreciation and gratitude to our veterans,” said Mayor R. Scott Adams.
In related Mon-Fayette Expressway construction news, council discussed having a crossover on the roadway at Oakmont Street and Route 837. There’s expected to be a crosswalk there for a bus stop and Duquesne would be charged with painting and maintaining the walk way. Council voted 4-0 to accept those responsibilities.
Duquesne’s city manager has resigned after less than three months on the job.
At this week’s meeting, officials voted 4-0 to accept accept the resignation of Scott Crawford. Councilman Timothy Caldwell was absent.
Council approved the hiring of Mary Lou Bittner as the new Interim City Manager.
Crawford, 54, had started the job Dec. 19, after Kelly Robertson left the post. George Newsome served as interim city manager before changing jobs to administrative assistant. Since Crawford’s hiring, Newsome has left the city altogether.
The cast of McKeesport Little Theater’s production of “Deathtrap,” from left in front, are Amy Melissen as Myra Bruhl and Andrew Lasswell as Sidney Bruhl. In back are Craig Soich as Porter Milgrim, Gavin Calgaro as Clifford Anderson, and Mandy Eckenrode as Helga ten Dorp. (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac.)
When: Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m., through March 19.
Tickets: Available through the MLT website, by calling the theater at 412-673-1100, or via onthestage.com.
McKeesport Little Theater’s upcoming production of “Deathtrap” definitely is a show-within-a-show thriller, but has so many twists and turns that even the most astute audience member easily could go see it a second time just to enjoy all the nuances.
There are only five characters in the whole play. As cast, they are Andrew Lasswell as Sidney Bruhl, Amy Melissen as his wife Myra Bruhl, Gavin Calgaro as Sidney’s student, Clifford Anderson, Mandy Eckenrode as psychic Helga ten Dorp, and Craig Soich as Porter Milgrim, Sidney’s friend and attorney.
Here’s a mini-synopsis, but if you plan to attend, don’t go looking up an official full synopsis and spoil the experience.
The entire two-act play is set in the Connecticut home of Sidney, a successful playwright. While he’s not completely down on his luck, he is experiencing a bit of writer’s block, which he is eager to overcome and move on to his next hit following a string of flops.
Fifth-grade students from Francis McClure Elementary School delighted board members and school leaders when describing the process of creating a Black History Month gallery walk at a recent school board meeting. (Adam Reinherz photo for Tube City Almanac)
Participation in breakfast and lunch programs at McKeesport Area School District is up across the board, but so are expenses.
Ryan Grados, food services director, told the school board at its most recent meeting that the department is making a profit this year, to the tune of $278,198.
“The reimbursement rate that we received was $2.46 for breakfast, and $4.31 for lunch,” Grados said. “Everybody knows that inflation is hitting us pretty hard, so the state has been generous enough to offer us a higher reimbursement rate; therefore, this year we’re receiving $2.77 for breakfast and $4.51 for watch.”
A local bus company that lost a contract to transport McKeesport Area School District students is suing the city, the district and several area officials, claiming its problems were caused by political manipulations.
Pennsylvania Coach Lines has filed suit in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court against the City of McKeesport, the school district, state Sen. Jim Brewster, Mayor Michael Cherepko, school director and mayoral candidate Joe Lopretto, former school Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr., and city administrator Tom Maglicco.
The company, based on Rebecca Street in the city, was replaced prior to the 2022-23 school year by Krise Transportation after parents repeatedly complained that Pennsylvania Coach Lines was canceling buses without warning, stranding students and forcing them to miss classes.
A brutal week in McKeesport now includes four homicides.
Few details have yet been released about a fatal shooting Friday evening that claimed the life of an unidentified man. Allegheny County police said 9-1-1 dispatchers were notified of a shooting in the 1200 block of Park Street just before 6 p.m. Officers arrived to find an adult male suffering from gunshot wounds.
The victim was identified by the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office as Robert Moore, 58, of the city. He was pronounced dead at the emergency room of UPMC McKeesport hospital, the office said.
No further details are being released by 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.
One of the victims of a shooting Wednesday afternoon in which two people died has now been charged in connection with the case.
Davon Flewellen-Belton, 18, of McKeesport is charged by Allegheny County police with carrying a firearm without a license and unauthorized possession of a firearm.
Flewellen-Belton was one of three people shot in an apartment at Crawford Village on Wednesday afternoon, Allegheny County police said. He is being held in the Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $5,000 cash bond pending a preliminary hearing March 13.
A fist-fight between several people in Crawford Village on Wednesday afternoon led to a shooting that left two people dead and a third hospitalized, Allegheny County homicide investigators said.
Jerred M. Duncan, 22, of Turtle Creek was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident from a gunshot wound to the chest, the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office said.
Jordan Eubanks, 30, of the city was taken to UPMC Mercy Hospital, Uptown, with gunshot wounds and died about 90 minutes later, the medical examiner said. An 18-year-old man was taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds to the leg, police said. His name has not been officially released.
The shootings happened at around 1 p.m. in Crawford Building 50, county police said in a prepared statement.
(Editor’s Note: This is a developing story and will be updated as necessary)
Schools went on lockdown and police from across Allegheny County streamed into the city Wednesday afternoon after two separate shootings in different neighborhoods left three people dead and another hospitalized.
Just after 12 noon, a 47-year-old man was shot to death near a store in the 3100 block of Versailles Avenue, emergency personnel said. Less than an hour later, as police were investigating the first incident, three people were shot in the Crawford Village housing development, according to police.
One man, 22, died in the second incident, while a second victim of that shooting, age 30, died later at a hospital.
Police do not believe the shootings were related and said there is “no threat to the general public.”
The latest deaths make five homicides in the city since Jan. 1.
McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko called the incidents “senseless” and said the solution to the violence goes beyond adding more law enforcement to the streets.