McKeesport C.U. Seeks Merger With Larger Thrift

December 31, 2023 |

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

Citing a lack of applicants for key jobs as well as new data-processing requirements, city-based Parkview Community Federal Credit Union is asking its members to vote to approve a merger with a larger Moon Twp.-based financial institution.

A meeting is planned for Parkview credit union members at 6 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 4) at the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center in Renziehausen Park.

Comments also may be filed online at the National Credit Union Administration website.

The merger would end Parkview’s 88-year existence and close one of the last McKeesport-based financial institutions. Another city-based credit union — McKeesport Bell — is also considering a merger with another thrift. Several smaller credit unions are chartered by area churches and McKeesport Area School District employees.

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Taxes Remain Same in NV Twp.

December 28, 2023 |

By T.J. Martin | Posted in: North Versailles Twp. News

North Versailles Twp. property owners will see no real estate tax increase under the 2024 budget passed unanimously this month by the township commissioners.

The budget has revenues and expenditures of $8.14 million, a slight increase from the 2023 budget of $8.02 million.

Also passed unanimously was a 3 percent pay increase for the township manager, finance manager, code enforcement officer and two parks and recreation department employees.

T.J. Martin is a freelance writer from Trafford whose work has also appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Irwin Standard Observer.


Former WABCO Home Plant to Close in 2024

December 24, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Wilmerding News

Wabtec workers and local officials railled in Wilmerding in April 2022 to encourage the corporation to invest in the future of George Westinghouse’s historic factory. The company has announced plans to end operations and permanently lay off 94 workers. (Photo courtesy United Electrical Workers union via Facebook)

Almost 100 workers in Wilmerding and their families are having a very unhappy holiday.

Pittsburgh-based Wabtec Corp. last week filed notice with the state Department of Labor & Industry that it intends to end its remaining operations at the former Westinghouse Air Brake Co. plant beginning in February.

Plant operations are expected to shutter permanently in July 2024. The 13.1-acre facility was sold earlier this month to a Zelienople firm, Wilmerding Warehouse LLC, for $1.3 million.

The air brake company, founded by George Westinghouse in Pittsburgh in 1869, was the cornerstone of the inventor’s fortunes. WABCO’s factory moved to Wilmerding in 1889 and has been at the center of the borough ever since.

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Gergely Adds Voice to Critics of U.S. Steel Deal

December 21, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: State & Region

State Rep. Matt Gergely addresses local officials during an open house at his McKeesport district office on Nov. 8. (Tube City Almanac file photo)

Add State Rep. Matt Gergely to the list of Mon Valley elected officials who are troubled by the proposed sale of U.S. Steel to a Japanese company.

“My number one priority in the face of this potential sale is making sure any new ownership of U.S. Steel protects this region’s union workers and jobs,” Gergely, Democrat of McKeesport, said Wednesday. “These union jobs play a vital role in our local, state, and national economy; they ensure fair wages, safe working conditions and job security for workers and their families.”

But unlike U.S. Sens. Bob Casey Jr. and John Fetterman, Gergely stopped short of calling for regulators to block the merger, instead calling for a “collaborative approach” to the sale of the iconic 122-year-old corporation.

“My hope is that the foreign company purchasing U.S. Steel recognizes the strategic importance of the U.S. steel industry and aligns its business practices with the interests of our local economy and workers,” Gergely said.

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New Chancellor Named at GA Campus

December 21, 2023 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Submitted photo by Penn State Greater Allegheny)

Megan Nagel has been named chancellor and chief academic officer of Penn State’s Greater Allegheny Campus in McKeesport, effective Jan. 1, a spokeswoman announced.

Nagel has served in the role in an interim capacity since June 2022, when then-Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Jacqueline Edmondson left to assume the presidency at the University of Southern Maine.

“I am pleased Megan will serve the Greater Allegheny campus in a permanent capacity,” said Margo DelliCarpini, vice president for Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor, in a prepared release.

“She has a deep appreciation for the role our campuses play in fulfilling Penn State’s land-grant mission,” DelliCarpini said. “While serving in the interim role, she established collaborative relationships with regional leaders and businesses.

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Duke Officials Hope for Water Fix Later Today

December 21, 2023 |

By Tom Leturgey | Posted in: Duquesne News

(Tom Leturgey photo)

City of Duquesne residents could have their water service back to normal by this evening (Dec. 21). That’s the hope of officials who are working with public works employees to fix two water main breaks. Water pressure has been limited to some homes in the city since Wednesday night.

“We have two breaks currently that we are aware of, one at Center Street and one is on Oak Street,” City Councilman Aaron R. Adams, water department chair, said in an email Thursday morning. Because of the water loss, he said, levels in the city’s reservoir dropped, causing more water outages across the city.

At noon on Thursday, water was still running down the bottom, brick part of Crawford Avenue. Meanwhile, City Manager Douglas Sample was on hand with city workers in heavy equipment as they dug up the water line at the corner of Oak and Center streets.

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No Tax Increase as Wilmerding OK’s Budget

December 18, 2023 |

By T.J. Martin | Posted in: Wilmerding News

Wilmerding Borough Council gave property owners in the borough an early Christmas present this month when they passed a 2024 budget with no property tax increase.

Finance Committee chairman John Thomas told his fellow council members that property taxes will remain at 13 mills. Expenditures and revenue total $1.164 million, up slightly from the 2023 figure of $1.150 million.

“Police went up, garbage went up, everything went up,” Thomas said in explaining the small increase.

The seven-member council approved the budget unanimously. They also unanimously approved retaining Borough Solicitor G.N. Evashavic, Borough Engineer Brad Branthoover and the borough’s four employees.

T.J. Martin is a freelance writer from Trafford whose work has also appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Irwin Standard Observer.


Duo in Fatal Crash Face Court Dates This Week

December 18, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Crime and Police News

Samantha Lee Kalkbrenner, 15, of Dravosburg was killed when the school van in which she was riding was struck by a car on Richland Avenue. Four other occupants of the van, including the driver, were injured. Police have charged two men in connection with Kalkbrenner’s death. (Photo courtesy Serra Catholic High School)

Two men accused by police of causing a school-bus crash on Dravosburg Hill that killed a 15-year-old student and injured four other people are scheduled for preliminary hearings this week.

In court filings, Allegheny County homicide detectives said that license-plate cameras, onboard vehicle computers and witness testimony led them to charge William R. Soliday II, 43, of Irwin, and Andrew N. Voigt, 37, of Penn Hills, in connection with the Sept. 20 death of Samantha Kalkbrenner, a sophomore at Serra Catholic High School.

“Because of the senselessness and the recklessness of the one defendant, Soliday, we think this is a murder case,” Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. said. “We believe they were racing.”

According to court documents, both men work at nearby Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory. Investigators allege that Soliday’s high-performance Volkswagen Jetta GLI was traveling at 107 mph before it slammed into the school bus in which Kalkbrenner and three classmates were riding.

Soliday is currently being held without bond in Allegheny County Jail pending a preliminary hearing Friday before Magisterial District Judge Kim Berkeley Clark in Pittsburgh.

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Pisciottano: ‘Disappointed’ By U.S. Steel Deal

December 18, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: State & Region

(File photo by Mark Dixon, licensed under CC-Attribution-2.0-Generic)

Related story: Steelworkers Blast U.S. Steel Sale to Japanese Firm

A state representative whose district includes U.S. Steel’s Irvin Plant said he was disappointed in the corporation’s decision to sell itself to Japan-based Nippon Steel for $55 per share.

“My chief concern is the future of steelmaking in the historic Steel Valley and the risk to direct and ancillary jobs that have employed generations in Allegheny County and the surrounding region,” said State Rep. Nick Pisciottano of West Mifflin.

“While I hope that any future ownership of plant assets recognize that we have the best workforce on the planet ready to manufacture the next generation of high-quality steel, I am concerned that we are seeing another round of offshoring that we will look back on with regret in the near future,” he said.

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Steelworkers Blast U.S. Steel Sale to Japanese Firm

December 18, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: State & Region

Nippon Steel’s Kimitsu Steel Works, located about 20 miles from Tokyo, employs 2,600 people and produces 10 million tons of iron annually. (File photo by M. Louis via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0)

Related Story: Pisciottano ‘Disappointed’ by U.S. Steel Deal

The union representing workers at U.S. Steel’s nearly two dozen American steel-making facilities on Monday criticized the announcement that the corporation has agreed to be acquired by a Japanese competitor, Nippon Steel.

“To say we’re disappointed in the announced deal between U.S. Steel and Nippon is an understatement, as it demonstrates the same greedy, shortsighted attitude that has guided U.S. Steel for far too long,” said David McCall, president of the United Steelworkers international union, located in Pittsburgh.

“We remained open throughout this process to working with U.S. Steel to keep this iconic American company domestically owned and operated, but instead it chose to push aside the concerns of its dedicated workforce and sell to a foreign-owned company,” he said.

U.S. Steel announced Monday that Tokyo-based Nippon Steel has agreed to purchase the Pittsburgh-based company in an all-cash transaction for $55 per share. The deal, valued at $14.9 billion, also includes the assumption of $800 million in debt.

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Duquesne Honors ‘Spanky’ Zabelsky

December 08, 2023 |

By Tom Leturgey | Posted in: Duquesne News

The family of popular business and community leader Lee “Spanky” Zabelsky was on hand to receive a proclamation from Duquesne City Council. From left: Stephanie Zabelsky, Jake Zabelsky, Mayor R. Scott Adams, Lavon Zabelsky, Lenny Zabelsky and Luke Zabelksy. “Spanky” Zabelsky passed away suddenly at 53. (Tom Leturgey photo for Tube City Almanac)

Duquesne City Council on Tuesday altered its agenda slightly to accommodate the family of Lee “Spanky” Zabelsky, 53, who passed away suddenly in October. Council and an emotional Mayor R. Scott Adams presented Zabelsky’s family with a proclamation.

“Spanky” was the co-owner of Leo’s Service Center on Duquesne Boulevard with members of his family and was a contract tow operator for the city of Duquesne.

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Cane’s Able to Raise Big Crowd in NV Twp.

December 08, 2023 |

By T.J. Martin | Posted in: North Versailles Twp. News

East Allegheny High School cheerleaders and members of the school’s athletic teams participated in the Raising Cane’s grand opening event. The chain made a $1,500 donation to the school district during Tuesday’s grand opening. (T.J. Martin photo for Tube City Almanac)

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers opened its doors in North Versailles Twp. on Tuesday with a crowd that included more than a dozen cheerleaders from the local school district to which the restaurant chain gave a gift of $1,500.

Area leader Justin Pesicek said the donation earmarked for the school’s athletic department was in keeping with the restaurant chain’s philosophy of giving back and community involvement.

Dave Loya, athletic director of East Allegheny School District, said the district brought a total of 22 people to participate in the grand opening event, including the cheerleaders, some senior-class athletes and the school’s Wildcat-costumed mascot.

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Speculation Rising About 45th District Seat

December 08, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

Speculation is rising about the future of the 45th District seat currently held by state Sen. Jim Brewster of McKeesport.

An automated text-message poll currently being conducted in the Mon-Yough area claims Brewster is “unlikely to seek re-election” and then asks recipients, “which of the following Democrats would you be most likely to support to replace him?”

The poll lists state Rep. Nick Pisciottano of West Mifflin, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko, Monroeville Mayor Nick Gresock and Brentwood social worker Makenzie White.

Brewster, who has represented the 45th District since 2010, declined comment on Thursday. White has already launched a website for her candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

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City Council OK’s Property Tax Increase

December 07, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Click to Download McKeesport’s 2024 Budget

Read Mayor Michael Cherepko’s budget message

Listen to the budget message

City council has approved a 3-mill property tax increase for 2024 that McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said is directed toward salary increases for police officers and additional personnel for the police and fire departments.

The increase from 8.26 to 11.26 mills will only impact the value of buildings, not land.

The 2024 budget otherwise holds overall spending to 2023 levels and cuts expenses in several areas, Cherepko said following Wednesday night’s 5-0 vote. Council members Tim Brown and Brian Evans were absent.

Separately, council by 5-0 vote approved a four-year contract with members of the city’s police union that includes a 15.5 percent increase for 2024 and additional 3 percent increases in 2025, 2026 and 2027.

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Festival of Trees Sparks Excitement for the Holidays

December 07, 2023 |

By Elizabeth Laughlin | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Kerri Bryer, English teacher at McKeesport Senior High School, works with student Brianna Mignogna of White Oak add finishing touches to their Acts of Kindness tree. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)

If you go...


McKeesport’s 38th Festival of Trees

Where: Jacob Woll Pavilion, Renziehausen Park, 201 Sycamore Drive

When: 12 to 8 p.m. Dec. 7-11

More information:

McKeesport’s 38th annual Festival of Trees is shaping up as one of the city’s largest ever.

Almost 100 community groups, organizations and businesses are participating in the event, which opened its doors at 12 noon today and continues through Monday (Dec. 11).

Organizations throughout the McKeesport area have been anticipating this yearly event. McKeesport Community Gardens will be taking part in the festival for the first time, said Laura Bosnak Thompson, who has been involved with the group since 1996.

“We’ll be setting up a tree with decorative garden shovels, garden tools and little seed packets,” Bosnak Thompson said.

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Lawsuit Alleges Excessive Force in ’20 Search

December 06, 2023 |

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

Searches that took place in McKeesport in 2020 after the shooting of a city police officer amounted to “martial law,” said a community activist on Monday during a press conference announcing a wide-reaching lawsuit against the city and Allegheny County.

Fawn Walker Montgomery, founder of Take Action Advocacy Group, was joined by plaintiffs and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. Together, they allege that police violated residents’ civil rights in December 2020 while searching for the suspect in the shooting of McKeesport police Officer Gerry Athans.

In the complaint filed this week in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, three McKeesport residents — Courtney Thompkins, Ezra Dixon and Kim Neal — name as defendants the city of McKeesport, Allegheny County, city and county police, and more than three dozen police officers. Most of the police officers are listed only as “John Does” and “Jane Does.”

The complaint accuses police of unfairly targeting Black and African-American residents, using excessive force, and violating constitutional provisions against unlawful search and seizure during the hunt for Athans’ shooter. The lawsuit demands both compensation and punitive damages.

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MASD to Resume Streaming Board Meetings

December 06, 2023 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Founders Hall Middle School choir members perform during the MASD meeting on Dec. 4. (Adam Reinherz photo for Tube City Almanac)

McKeesport Area School District will resume streaming its meetings online, the newly reconstituted school board announced on Monday.

In addition, the board will add another meeting each month.

Both decisions should increase transparency, said newly named board President Mark Holtzman. “We think it’s advantageous to the public,” he said.

Beginning in January, district meetings will occur the first and second Thursday of each month. The first meeting will enable the public to hear proposed business; the second meeting will afford time for board members to vote.

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No Property Tax Increase in Duquesne for ’24

December 06, 2023 |

By Tom Leturgey | Posted in: Duquesne News

Duquesne home and business owners aren’t expected to see a property tax increase in 2024, but they “may” see sewage and water rates go up.

The proposed 2024 budget approved at Tuesday’s meeting sets spending for the year at $1.15 million, roughly the same as the 2023 budget. The spending plan is available for review on the city’s website.

Download Duquesne’s 2024 budget

The city’s proposed budget will be presented to the public again at a council meeting on Dec. 19 before council votes to approve it.

Councilwoman Elaine Washington noted that a “full staff” of municipal workers have been doing a “good job picking up trash and painting city hall.” She also noted that workers have been “doing what we need to do” to keep the city “clean and clear.”

Councilman Aaron Adams said that the city’s water testing has been “all clear” for the past month and fluorine levels were within the threshold of where they need to be for residents. He also said that there were no water main breaks in November; however, on Dec. 1 there was one in the city.

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NV Twp. Authority OK’s Sale of Sewer System

December 05, 2023 |

By T.J. Martin | Posted in: North Versailles Twp. News

The North Versailles Twp. Sanitary Authority voted 5-0 to approve an asset purchase agreement with Aqua Pennsylvania Wastewater Inc. after three of the company’s executives told the authority board members about their company and the purchase agreement as they did earlier in November when they met with the township commissioners.

Scott Shearer, managing director of PFM Financial Advisors LLC, said his company was hired by the township in June to help with the sale. He said under the agreement, Aqua will pay between $25 million and $30 million for the township sewer system, including the pipes and three pumping stations.

Aqua is owned by Essential Utilities Inc. of Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County, the parent company of Peoples’ Gas. The company operates in nine states with more than 3,100 employees and under the agreement, all of the sanitary authority’s employees will be offered employment with Aqua.

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Two Dead in Christy Park Shooting

December 03, 2023 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

Allegheny County police are investigating a shooting in the city’s Christy Park neighborhood that left two people dead.

In a prepared release, homicide detectives said the victims were found dead of gunshot wounds inside a home in the 400 block of 27th Avenue on Saturday afternoon after worried relatives called police and asked them to check on the occupants.

The Allegheny County medical examiner’s office identified the deceased as Maria Moffitt, 49, and Roy Steele, 58, both of McKeesport.

Detectives said the circumstances of what led up to the shootings are currently under investigation, but investigators do not believe anyone else was involved, and said there is no threat to the community.

Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to call the County Police tip line at 1-833-ALL-TIPS. Callers may remain anonymous.


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