‘Vote Art’ Urges Community Participation

October 30, 2023 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: Politics & Elections

Mon Valley community leaders who participated in Friday’s “Vote Art” event included Judith Moore, founder of Saving Our Sisters Now; Luther Sewell, founder and publisher of Talk Magazine; Roxanne Sewell, president and editor of Talk Magazine; Demetrius Baldwin, community activist; at Fawn Walker-Montgomery of Take Action Advocacy Group, and, kneeling, Rikell Ford of Kindred C.U.L.T.U.R.E. (Submitted photo courtesy Take Action Advocacy Group)

A group of Mon Valley community leaders on Friday urged residents to get out and vote in the Nov. 7 municipal elections.

The program, called “Vote Art,” was held at The Spot on 8th, an event center in Homestead.

Partners included Fawn Walker-Montgomery, chief executive officer and co-founder of Take Action Mon Valley/Take Action Advocacy Group; Demetrius Baldwin of Mon Valley Peoples Action; Rikell Ford of Kindred C.U.L.T.U.R.E; Judith Moore, chief executive officer and founder of Sisters Saving Ourselves; and Luther and Roxanne Sewell, founders of Talk Magazine, Pennsylvania’s only statewide publication focused on Black and African American news and culture.

“I feel like there’s a lot of power in this room (and) knowledge in this room, and I was moved by the things I heard,” Baldwin said.

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MLT Brings Back ‘Rocky Horror’ For Halloween

October 27, 2023 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment

Kat Grosso as Frank-N-Furter's golden creation Rocky, far right, and cast rehearse a scene from the cult favorite “Rocky Horror Show,” returning to McKeesport Little Theater for one weekend only. (Photo courtesy MLT)

If you go...


“Rocky Horror Show”

Where: McKeesport Little Theater, 1614 Coursin St.,

When: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Pre-show activities begin at 6:45 p.m.

Tickets: $20 for adults, $12 for students, available by calling the theater at (412) 673-1100 or online.

When patrons of McKeesport Little Theater’s 2022 debut of “Rocky Horror Show” made it clear they’d like to see it become an annual event, director Heather Atkinson took it to heart.

“We got a lot of response last year that people wanted us to do this every year, so we put in for the rights again the day after ‘Rocky Horror’ closed, and found out we were approved again the day before Thanksgiving,” she said.

With show rights acquired and Atkinson on board to return to direct, she said she started thinking about things that would carry over from the 2022 production and others she wanted to change.

The 2023 MLT edition of “Rocky Horror Show” opens today (Oct. 27), and continues for one weekend only on Saturday (Oct. 28) and Sunday (Oct. 29). All shows are at 7:30 p.m., with pre-show activities starting at 6:45 p.m.

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DEI Expert: ‘Restorative’ Work is Fostering Healing

October 27, 2023 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

School directors and the public listen on Wednesday as Erika Kestenberg, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, addresses the McKeesport Area school board. (Adam Reinherz photo for Tube City Almanac)

A consultant working with the McKeesport Area School District said this week that school directors did the right thing by apologizing following an outburst at the last board meeting.

Erika Kestenberg, an expert on diversity, equity and inclusion who has worked with the district in the past, said Wednesday that in the wake of the September incident, a statement issued by six of the nine board members was the correct move.

At the end of a sometimes raucous board meeting on Sept. 26, a member of the audience confronted School Director James Brown over his remarks that the session had been a “sh-t show.”

Brown responded with what witnesses described as profanity and a homophobic slur.

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MAHS Hosting State Band Competition

October 27, 2023 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Musicians, color guard, props and flags are in constant motion in this action-packed show highlighting things — manmade and from nature — that go “Up in the Air.” (Photo courtesy Tournament of Bands Region 8)

If you go...


Tournament of Bands
Pennsylvania State Championships

Where: McKeesport Area High School, 1960 Eden Park Blvd.

When: 3:15 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 28)

Tickets: $15 for adults, $10 for students and senior citizens.

When the opportunity arose for a high school in Region 8 to host the Tournament of Bands state competition this year, McKeesport Area’s band director Drew DeCarlo immediately was interested.

“Last year, it was up to a band in Region 11 to host, so we went to Altoona for the first states competition,” DeCarlo said. “This is just only the second year for States.”

With McKeesport Area’s experience in hosting competitions through its annual home show, held this year on Oct. 14, the band director let TOB know they would be glad to be considered.

A total of 15 high school bands plus Seton Hill University will be represented at states, which kicks off shortly after 3 p.m. this Saturday (Oct. 28).

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Three Local High Schools Top Band Competition

October 27, 2023 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: State & Region

Lots of clouds are fitting for the “Up in the Air” theme of McKeesport Area High School Tiger Band’s 2023 show. After taking first place in its category at regionals on Oct. 21 at Penn-Trafford High School, the band is looking forward to performing on their home field for the state competition on Saturday (Oct. 28). (Alll photos courtesy of Tournament of Bands Region 8)

Related Story: MAHS Hosting State Band Competition

Three local high school marching bands were named regional champions in their respective categories at the Tournament of Bands Region 8 competition Oct. 21 at Penn-Trafford High School Warrior Stadium.

East Allegheny, McKeesport Area and Serra Catholic received top scores for their performances, as reported by Tournament of Bands Region 8.

East Allegheny

East Allegheny performed a selection of songs by the Four Seasons in their “Jersey Boys” show, which scored 90.08 in Group 2-A. That score included high auxiliary, percussion, plus music and visuals.

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U.S. Steel: No Update on Sale Talks

October 26, 2023 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: State & Region

Finished coils await shipment at U.S. Steel’s Irvin Plant in West Mifflin. (File photo courtesy U.S. Steel Corp.)

U.S. Steel and its possible suitors are remaining quiet on two competing proposals to sell the corporation.

During a call Thursday with investors and reporters, the company reported third-quarter net earnings of $299 million, or $1.20 per share, and declared a five-cent-per-share dividend.

But corporation officials stayed mum about the possible sale of the Pittsburgh-based company, which operates the Mon Valley’s last integrated steel-making facilities, the Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock and North Braddock, as well as the Clairton coke and by-products plant and Irvin Plant in West Mifflin.

In August, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., a steel-making and iron-ore mining conglomerate in Ohio, and Sewickley-based Esmark Inc. announced they had both tendered offers to take over U.S. Steel. The Cleveland-Cliffs deal has the support of the United Steelworkers union.

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Board OK’s 1-Year Deal With Teachers’ Union

October 26, 2023 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Area School Board has OK’d a one-year tentative agreement with the teacher’s union to avert a strike.

The deal, pending approval from the McKeesport Area Education Association, would be retroactive from Sept. 1, 2023, through Aug. 31, 2024. The deal would give a new school board time to negotiate a more lengthy contract following November’s election.

The vote was 8-0, with School Director Steven Kondrosky absent.

District Superintendent Tia Wanzo called the agreement “step one” in resolving the months-long contract dispute. District educators have gone without a contract since Aug. 31.

Wanzo said she expects the union to act quickly, probably by Nov. 1: “They’re going to move quickly through the channels.”

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White Oak Sets Trick-or-Treat Hours

October 24, 2023 |

By T.J. Martin | Posted in: White Oak News

White Oak council held a brief October meeting that was more treats than tricks as borough officials set hours for Halloween events.

Council voted to set official trick-or-treat hours from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31. The vote was unanimous, with councilpersons Joelle Harbert and Louis Bender absent.

Council also voted unanimously to have the White Oak Borough Halloween Parade followed by a Truck-and-Treat and Trunk-and-Treat event on Oct. 28 from noon to 2 p.m. at Sampson’s Mills Presbyterian Church. The parade line-up will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the church at 1665 Lincoln Way.

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MAHS Student Held After Handgun Discovered

October 24, 2023 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A student at McKeesport Area High School was taken into custody Tuesday morning after district officials said a handgun was discovered in his bookbag during a security screening.

A district spokesperson said that McKeesport police are investigating the incident and that the student would be subject to school disciplinary policy and procedures.

In a release, McKeesport Area officials said a security guard discovered the weapon during a routine screening at the high school entrance at approximately 8:15 a.m.

All students are required to enter the school building through metal detectors.

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City Awarded $125K for Health, Food Outreach

October 24, 2023 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Illustration: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have awarded McKeesport $125,000 to work with UPMC and a broad coalition of community groups to develop a city-wide strategy to address chronic diseases, food security and access to health care.

The grant, announced Monday by city officials and UPMC, comes through the CDC’s Closing the Gap with Social Determinants of Health Accelerator Plans grant program.

According to the CDC, McKeesport is one of only approximately 15 cities nationwide to be awarded a grant from the program in this round of funding. In total, five programs in Pennsylvania have been funded since the program’s inception.

City and UPMC officials said the planning grant will be used to develop a connected and sustainable network of community organizations that can bring forth the voices and needs of the McKeesport community; plans to create more convenient, accessible and equitable access to care; and a better understanding of how diverse populations want to receive care.

A similar program called “Clairton Cares,” operated by Mon Valley Initiative and funded through the Jefferson Regional Foundation, has been praised for its positive impact on that community.

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EA School Board Meeting Ends in Argument

October 18, 2023 |

By Dianne Ribecca | Posted in: North Versailles Twp. News

Parents of an East Allegheny School District student allege that four other pupils attacked their child at a bus stop, causing personal injury and property damage — and that the students involved were related to school board members.

The accusation, leveled at the Oct. 9 school board meeting, resulted in an intense confrontation between district officials and the parents, who were removed from the room by school security.

District Solicitor Dan Beisler warned the parents not to name the children who are accused in the incident, while District 2 School Director Courtney Verner vehemently disputed the accusation.

North Versailles Twp. police were called to the meeting but the situation was resolved outside.

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White Oak Bakery Celebrates New (Old) Home

October 16, 2023 |

By T.J. Martin | Posted in: White Oak News

Patti’s Pasticceria, a fixture on Lincoln Way since 2012, has relocated directly across the street to 1501 Lincoln Way, into a space once occupied by Feig’s Bakery. (Submitted photo via Facebook)

A White Oak bakery has relocated, but patrons don’t have to worry about finding it: it simply moved across the street.

Patti’s Pasticceria, which had been at 1502 Lincoln Way since 2012, has relocated directly across the street to 1501 Lincoln Way, which years ago was the site of Feig’s Bakery.

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Patti Fiasco, founder and namesake of Patti’s Pasticceria. She worked at Feig’s, starting at the counter as a teenager, before moving to the back room to learn more of the trade.

“I always loved to bake,” Fiasco said. “They taught me how to decorate (cakes) here.”

Fiasco remained at Feig’s until she became pregnant with her son, Andrew Macey, then, as she raised her family, continued to bake and sell her baked goods from her home for the next 20 to 25 years.

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Duquesne Discusses Water Dept. Sale

October 15, 2023 |

By Tom Leturgey | Posted in: Duquesne News

Duquesne City Council is not happy with the company that has been contracted to fix its municipal pump station project.

The city is concerned that the contractor who bid on the pump station project is “not completing the work in a timely manner that they were contracted to do,” wrote Duquesne City Councilman Aaron Adams in an email.

City officials have been frustrated because the contractor has been slow in programming the new water pump controls for the new pumps to operate.

“We’ve waited long enough,” Adams said during his Water Department report at the October city council meeting. “We keep asking for a schedule.”

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Local Church Marking 150th Anniversary

October 15, 2023 |

By T.J. Martin | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Parishioners Ethel Balas and Karen Slobodian and priest-in-charge the Rev. Dr. Moni McIntyre are among those getting ready to celebrate the 150th anniversary of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. (T.J. Martin photo for Tube City Almanac)

Few things last for 150 years, so when something does, that longevity is often honored. One institution marking its 150th anniversary this year is St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in McKeesport and it will mark that milestone on Oct. 21, with an Open House from 1 to 4 p.m. at the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center.

The event will include refreshments and speeches from McKeesport native Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, whose godmother is a member of the church; state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-45th), a former McKeesport mayor and city councilman; and Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Ketlen Solak.

The history center is located in Renziehausen Park along with McKeesport’s first school known as the “little red school house.” That school house hosted McKeesport’s first Episcopal service in 1869.

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Start-Up Incubator Reopens in New Space

October 13, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Eric Ewell, director of continuing education at Penn State’s Greater Allegheny Campus, welcomes visitors to the opening of the new Mon Valley LaunchBox on Fifth Avenue, Downtown. Also shown are business owner Shalay Williams, founder of Care Heart CPR, and state Rep. Matt Gergely. (Special to Tube City Almanac)

Even after a devastating explosion wrecked the building where Penn State University’s Mon Valley LaunchBox was located, the small-business incubator never stopped operating — and growing.

Since 2019, more than a dozen businesses have now gotten their start through the Mon Valley LaunchBox, and with the formal opening on Thursday of its new location Downtown, there’s more room to grow, said Eric Ewell, director of continuing education at Greater Allegheny Campus.

“We’ve never stopped,” Ewell said. “We had two networking events this year that we had 60 people registered for. We just didn't have the coworking space. But even then, we offered people who were paying members at the time space on campus.”

Ewell and Megan Nagel, Greater Allegheny interim chancellor, joined State Sen. Jim Brewster, State Rep. Matt Gergely, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko and other community leaders to celebrate the LaunchBox’s new location in the former First Commonwealth Bank at 225 Fifth Ave.

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Driver Hurt Following Pursuit, Wreck

October 12, 2023 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A West Mifflin man was seriously injured Sunday morning after the car which he was driving left West Fifth Avenue in the city’s 10th Ward and landed upside down on the railroad tracks.

Joseph E. Gault, 47, had to be extricated from the car by firefighters and paramedics and was taken by ambulance to UPMC Mercy Hospital, Uptown, McKeesport police said.

According to a report, Gault’s car was traveling east toward Downtown when his car left the road at Rebecca Street, crashed through a metal railing and landed on the CSX Railroad tracks.

Minutes earlier, according to police, a Glassport officer had attempted to stop a silver Toyota sedan in that borough, but the driver, later identified by police as Gault, fled the scene.

Following a brief pursuit, the Glassport officer lost sight of the vehicle near the Mansfield Bridge, according to a report. Police discovered Gault’s wrecked car a short time later, according to a report.

The incident is under investigation, police said.


Duke Council May Limit Richford Street Parking

October 09, 2023 |

By Tom Leturgey | Posted in: Duquesne News

At Duquesne City Council’s September meeting, several residents addressed leaders about tight parking conditions on Richford Street. At the October meeting, Police Chief William Shaw reported that residents were still parking on both sides of the street.

Last month, residents seemingly targeted one resident who was reportedly causing parking issues. There were concerns that emergency and other municipal vehicles wouldn’t be able to traverse the area.

“We need to put an ordinance in place,” said Councilman Aaron Adams.

That lead council into a discussion on what legally needs to be ironed out to enforce a new “no parking” sign on a city street, and whether they need to be formally approved by council.

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Parents, Taxpayers Voice Frustrations at Forum

October 09, 2023 |

By Yousuf Lachhab Ibrahim | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Parents and taxpayers called for a unified approach to challenges facing the McKeesport Area School District, including safety issues in the schools and a series of administrative problems.

At a forum held Saturday evening at White Oak Athletic Association, speakers addressed a series of concerns, but several returned to the theme of “unity” that was invoked at the beginning of the meeting by the Rev. Earlene Coleman, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church for the last 20 years.

“We have to (become) unified,” she said. “Everything will fall apart if we continue to stay divided.”

Most of the concerns that were raised centered around two main issues — late tax refunds owed to homeowners after property tax exclusions under the Homestead-Farmstead Act were miscalculated, and the state of safety inside school buildings.

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MASD Teachers OK Strike if No Contract Reached

October 05, 2023 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

BREAKING: This is a developing story and is subject to change.

Teachers in the McKeesport Area School District have authorized their union’s leadership to call a strike if a contract settlement cannot be reached “in the near future.”

The announcement was made by union president Gerald McGrew Jr. following a membership meeting Thursday afternoon in Dravosburg. The vote was unanimous, McGrew said.

Members of the McKeesport Area Education Association have been working without a contract since Aug. 31. A tentative settlement on a five-year contract was reached over the summer, but was voted down by the school board, 8-0.

The union represents 266 teachers and classroom professionals in the district.

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Frustrated MASD Residents Holding Town-Hall

October 04, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

This story was changed after its original publication. See the editor’s note at the end.

Correction: This story initially omitted Mark Holtzman as one of the candidates.

A group of concerned McKeesport Area residents will hold a town-hall style meeting on Saturday to discuss challenges facing the district and what they view as a lack of appropriate response from the school board.

The meeting, to be held at 5 p.m. at White Oak Athletic Association, 1798 Lower Heckman Road, is non-partisan, says one of the organizers, McKeesport resident Rosie Norgren, and is not supporting any political candidate or party.

“A group of us got together after the last board meeting,” she says. “We just know a lot of people in the community are upset about how things have been going — financial issues, issues within the schools — people aren’t feeling heard. We really want people to have an opportunity to be heard.”

The event is being held in the wake of a school board meeting last week at which one school director was accused of using profanity and a slur against a member of the audience during an argument.

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Council Re-Hires Duquesne Manager

October 04, 2023 |

By Tom Leturgey | Posted in: Duquesne News

Mary Louis Bittner joked with Duquesne Solicitor Myron Sainovich that this is her “fourth” swing at serving as “interim city manager” for the city.

At its Oct. 3 meeting, city council voted 4-0 (with Councilman Tim Caldwell absent) to appoint Bittner to the post after accepting Samuel Sulkosky’s resignation.

She will remain on the job until Oct. 23, when Douglas Sample is re-hired back with the city.

Currently the borough manager for Crafton, Sample worked as Duquesne City Manager just a few years ago. In 2020, Sample “wore two hats” for Duquesne, serving as city manager and part-time public works director. City Councilwoman Elaine Washington said she led the effort to get Sample back and worked to secure his services.

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Boys & Girls Club Opening New Facility in City

October 03, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

The Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania will return to the city with a new facility called “The Club Teen Center” on Fifth Avenue, Downtown, a spokesman has announced.

A ribbon-cutting for the center — located at 1305 Fifth Ave., in a structure owned by UPMC McKeesport Hospital — is planned for 3 p.m. Wednesday.

BGCWPA officials also will outline the organization’s new priorities and approach to helping Kids in communities across western Pennsylvania, said David Tobiczyk, vice president of advancement, in an email announcement.

Elected officials, community leaders and representatives from UPMC are expected to attend.

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Living History Tour Returns This Weekend

October 03, 2023 |

By Yousuf Lachhab Ibrahim | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

During the 2020 Living History Tour at McKeesport & Versailles Cemetery, Tony Belobrajdich portrayed LCpl. Thomas James “Jitters” Sweeney, a McKeesport native who was killed during the Vietnam War. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)

If you go...


9th Annual Living History Tour

Where: McKeesport & Versailles Cemetery

When: Saturday (Oct. 7) and Sunday (Oct. 8), tours every hour to 90 minutes. (Last tour group leaves at 3 p.m.)

Admission: $6 kids 12-under, $12 Heritage Center members, $15 non-members

Tickets: Visit the Heritage Center website

Visitors will be able to learn about past residents of McKeesport and the Mon Valley (both notable and obscure) this weekend, when the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center holds its ninth-annual Living History Tour at the McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery.

Actors will take on the roles of these historic figures from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 7 and 8). An indoor performance will also be held on Oct. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Heritage Center, 1832 Arboretum Drive, Renziehausen Park.

Admission is $12 for Heritage Center members and $15 for non-members. Children 12 and under are admitted for $6.

Among the historic figures portrayed will be Carolyn Waters Young, the first black city council member in McKeesport’s history; Lida Sill Cannon, a Gilded Age socialite known as the Belle of the Monongahela Valley; and Robert Nelson Thomas, a Union soldier who died of illness after having fought in the Civil War. They will be played by Brandy Cogdell, Gina T. Rosso, and Joe Kosha respectively.

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Police Chief Retires After Nearly 30-Year Career

October 03, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko (right) and members of city council thanked outgoing police Chief Adam Alfer (left) at the September council meeting. Alfer has retired from the city after nearly 27 years to become the police chief of South Allegheny School District. (Tube City Almanac photo)

City officials have bade farewell to Adam Alfer, who retired Sept. 22 as McKeesport’s police chief after a career that spanned nearly three decades.

Alfer has been named the police chief for South Allegheny School District. The district, which has four school buildings, currently has two security guards, but Alfer is its first sworn police officer.

He was hired by the school board in July after being recommended by a six-person search committee.

“I don’t want a break,” Alfer said before his last day with the city. “I want to go right into it.  I’m very excited to have this new opportunity. But on the other hand, it’s a bittersweet moment, because I love the city of McKeesport. I was born and raised here and I’ve been working here since I was 19 years old. It’s going to be hard to walk away from.”

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