PA Still Lags Nation in Post-H.S. College, Training

February 21, 2024 |

By Danielle M. Smith - Public News Service | Posted in: State & Region

(Source: Lumina Foundation)

Pennsylvania lags slightly behind national figures for the number of working-age adults who have earned college degrees or other professional certifications after high school.

New data from the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation tracks degree attainment, including professional training and university degrees. The foundation says that more than 54 percent of Americans have attained some kind of post-high school education. In Pennsylvania, the number is 53 percent.

The foundation’s research also said more can be done to close the equity gap, in the Keystone State and across the country. The report showed that although more than 50 percent of white Pennsylvanians have college degrees, the same is true of only 32 percent of Black residents and 30 percent of Hispanic residents.

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W.O. Welcomes Two New Police Officers

February 21, 2024 |

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

White Oak Mayor Ina Jean Marton (center) is flanked by the borough’s newest police officers, Gerry Athans (left) and Matt Cerasuolo, after administering the oath of office to the pair at White Oak Borough Council’s February monthly meeting. Both had previously been police officers in McKeesport.

Including the chief of police, White Oak now has 14 full-time police officers.


Students’ Mural Brightens Hallway at Hospital

February 21, 2024 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Students pose for a portrait in front of the mural they designed and constructed for the oncology department in UPMC McKeesport. Left to right, Tyler Reigh, 16, of White Oak; Victoria Fast, 17, of White Oak; Christina Wos, 17, of White Oak; Ryenn Thomas, 15, of McKeesport; and Matthew Miller, 17, of McKeesport. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)

Students from McKeesport Area High School recently completed a 4-foot by 16-foot mural to beautify the hall in the Oncology Wing of UPMC McKeesport hospital.

Not only is the mural colorful, but it displays uplifting messages like “grow positive thoughts” and other encouraging phrases.

Mark Winowitch, director of facilities and environmental services for UPMC McKeesport, contacted art teacher Denise Bollman, and asked if her students would be interested in creating a mural; she accepted the offer.

The students’ mural project was under the direction of Bollman and commercial art teacher Lyndsay Brown. The students are taking classes in the MAHS Art Department and Technology Center Commercial & Advertising Shop.

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Audubon Asks for Help With Mon Valley Count

February 16, 2024 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: State & Region

ASWP community conservation coordinator Ben Kehoe at the Mon Valley Bird-Friendly Community Project Kickoff in June. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)

Mon Valley residents of all ages and different birding experiences are invited to lend a hand Saturday during the annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

Ben Kehoe, community conservation coordinator for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, will be leading a Great Backyard Bird Count Walk from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday through Renziehausen Park. Participants will meet in the parking lot of the Renzie Park Senior Center, 100 Sycamore Drive.

This is the first year that Audubon is leading a Great Backyard Bird Count event at Renzie Park, said Rachel Handel, communications director of ASWP.

Registration in advance is requested.

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E.A. May Alter Firefighter Tax Relief Plan

February 15, 2024 |

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

(File photo by NZDave via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic)

Volunteer fire department members who are homeowners in the East Allegheny School District will have to wait a while longer to find out how much, if anything, they’ll receive as a tax break from the district to thank them for their service.

Last month, the school board voted 6-1 to give volunteer firefighters in the district who meet certain criteria an annual property tax break of up to $3,000.

The proposal was designed to help fire departments within the district — Crestas, Fire Department of North Versailles, Wilmerding, West Wilmerding and United, which serves East McKeesport and Wall — retain their members and attract new ones.

Only School Board President John Savinda voted against the measure, saying, “we are $5 million in the hole.” After the meeting, Savinda said his vote was not against the firefighters, but due to his concern about the cost of the proposal.

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Duquesne: Water Quality, Billing on City To-Do List

February 14, 2024 |

By Tom Leturgey | Posted in: Duquesne News

(Tube City Almanac photo)

Duquesne officials say that improving the city’s water infrastructure and billing are at the top of their to-do list for 2024.

At the Feb. 6 council meeting, City Councilman Aaron Adams said water-quality testing continued in January, and there was only one water main break during the month that was resolved “without incident.”

Adams said that pump station work continues, and that all updated installation had been completed. “We are now working on networking” the system with sensors and other monitoring equipment, he said.

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Duquesne Looks To Crack Down On Landlords

February 14, 2024 |

By Tom Leturgey | Posted in: Duquesne News

Duquesne City Council is again talking about cracking down on landlords whose rental properties have code or property maintenance violations.

At this month’s meeting, City Councilman Aaron Adams reiterated his desire to bill property owners for occupancy permits and create a line-item for collecting inspection fees in Duquesne’s budget moving forward.

Adams and City Solicitor Myron Sainovich said that a policy to enact the occupancy permit program had been discussed in the past year, but no formal action had been taken.

The plan would be to recognize all of the rental properties in the city and send letters to the property owners.

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$50K Grant Will Target Storm Basins in Wilmerding

February 14, 2024 |

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

Wilmerding Borough has received a $50,000 grant to use to repair rainwater catch basins in the borough.

Borough Engineer Brad Branthoover of Glenn Engineering & Associates, Ltd. told the borough council at their monthly meeting that he has a list of 27 basins that could use repair.

Reached after the meeting, Branthoover said catch basin repairs typically cost between $2,500 and as much as $7,500 depending on several factors and so the grant should cover repairs to approximately 10 to 12 catch basins.

He said he developed the list of the basins needing repair in conjunction with the borough’s Public Works Department and it will be that department’s job to prioritize the basins on the list to determine which are most need of repair.

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MASD, Teachers Settle Contract Dispute

February 12, 2024 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Students from the arts enrichment class at Founders’ Hall Middle School show their work to school directors during Thursday’s meeting. (Adam Reinherz photo for Tube City Almanac)

After a nearly-seven month dispute between the McKeesport Area School District and the McKeesport Area Education Association, both sides have agreed to a new five-year contract.

District board members announced the agreement during Thursday’s meeting.

“Thank you to all those who were involved,” board president Mark Holtzman said. “I believe it was a pretty fair and equitable contract for the teachers and I’m very pleased to see that.”

Board member Dave Seropian, who previously served as the district’s business manager for more than 20 years, led MASD’s negotiating team.

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End of an Era: Laughter, Tears Mark Final Day

February 12, 2024 |

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

Zachary Beauchamp and Adam Blank have one last drink at The Elbow Room as part of the restaurant’s last day celebration. (Yousuf Lachhab Ibrahim photo for Tube City Almanac)

Sometime Sunday afternoon, the last bite of The Elbow Room's famous square pizza was eaten.

Frequent customer Adam Blank, who had been coming to the restaurant since childhood, had no shortage of compliments for the signature dish. “One of my favorite memories is just walking in and just… having that square pizza,” he said.

Now, the pizza will only be a memory for generations of McKeesporters, some of whom moved away and ordered it to be shipped across the country, sometimes multiple times per year.

The Elbow Room’s farewell celebration began at 3 p.m. with a considerably long line of people waiting for their tables upon opening. One customer said she waited for two hours, though it didn’t sound like she was complaining.

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E. McKeesport Council OK’s Ice Plant Hill Fix

February 11, 2024 |

By T.J. Martin | Posted in: East McKeesport News

(T.J Martin photo for Tube City Almanac)

East McKeesport Borough has awarded a bid for a project to help alleviate a stormwater runoff issue and part of the project will utilize drainage pipes that the borough didn’t previously know existed.

The borough council voted unanimously to accept a bid of $249,633 from Cranberry Twp.-based State Pipe Services Inc. for the Ice Plant Hill Remediation Project. The project will be financed by three grants the borough has received.

Borough Engineer Laura Branthoover of Glenn Engineering & Associates said rainwater runs off the hillside bordering Ice Plant Hill and into the parking lot of the Wilmerding Community Center at the base of the hill.

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Glass Recycling Program Returns to County Parks

February 11, 2024 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

(Pennsylvania Resources Council photo)

Allegheny County and the Pennsylvania Resources Council will offer a glass recycling program in county parks again this year.

The PRC’s Traveling Glass Recycling Bin Program will be available February through November to allow residents a resource to recycle glass, a spokesperson said.

The service is increasingly important because many communities have reduced their recycling programs or do not offer collection of glass jars, bottles and jugs.

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Elbow Room Closing After One Final Party

February 10, 2024 |

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

(Tube City Almanac photo)

The sun will set permanently on a McKeesport landmark this weekend with one final party at The Elbow Room.

After opening for limited hours for several months, the beloved 10th Ward restaurant and bar announced via Facebook this week that it is closing for good Sunday.

A farewell event will begin at 3 p.m. and continue “until the last person leaves,” according to the post.

Calls and messages to the Elbow Room were not returned as of presstime.

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Hundreds Gather in Tribute to Slain Police Officer

February 06, 2024 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The Rev. Bill Meekins Jr., lead pastor of the McKeesport Area Shared Ministry of the United Methodist Church, delivers the invocation Tuesday evening at the rededication of the city’s dek-hockey rink in memory of murdered police officer Sean Sluganski. Mayor Michael Cherepko and Sluganski’s family look on. (Tube City Almanac photo)

More than 300 people gathered at sunset Tuesday to remember murdered McKeesport police Officer Sean Sluganski.

At a ceremony attended by many current and retired law-enforcement officers, city officials and clergy re-dedicated the dek-hockey rink at Renziehausen Park in memory of Sluganski, who was fatally shot by a suspect on Feb. 6, 2023, as he and his partner, McKeesport police Officer Chuck Thomas Jr., responded to a domestic dispute in the Grandview neighborhood.

A former city man is awaiting trial on homicide charges in connection with Sluganski’s death.

A bench bearing Sluganski’s name and image also was unveiled by Thomas and McKeesport police Lt. Bob Eastman, who responded to the same call.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said the city wanted to honor Sluganski with an appropriate, permanent memorial, and felt renaming the dek-hockey would be appropriate, because of his love of hockey.

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Report: Min. Wage Hike Would Benefit Pa. Workers

February 03, 2024 |

By Danielle M. Smith - Public News Service | Posted in: State & Region

A new report has shed light on who would benefit most in Pennsylvania from raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.

More than 1.3 million workers would see higher paychecks, said report author Claire Kovach, a senior research analyst for the Keystone Research Center.

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour for more than a decade, and the state has lost significant buying power in that time. Kovach said the data analyzes the potential impact of a higher minimum wage based on demographics such as age, race, education, gender and industry.

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W.O. Council Adds 1-Mill Tax Increase

February 03, 2024 |

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

White Oak Borough Council made it official Thursday night, unanimously passing a 2024 budget with a 1-mill tax increase after previously passing a no-tax-increase 2024 budget.

In December, council passed a $6.48 million budget which contained no tax increase using approximately $892,000 from the borough fund balance. That left about $723,000 in the fund balance.

But in January, council voted to reopen the budget and consider a 1-mill real estate tax increase.

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Fight, Coach’s Resignation Top MASD Agenda

February 03, 2024 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Citizens withheld tears, shouted and questioned board members about the resignation of Amy Gumbert, McKeesport Area High School’s girls basketball coach during Thursday’s open agenda meeting.

Gumbert, a third-year coach who led the Tigers to the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals in her first two seasons, and her staff, which included her brother Eric Gumbert, have all been replaced.

“Coach Amy and Coach Eric have been in my life since I can remember,” sophomore Luciana Lewis said during Thursday’s hearing of citizens. “I knew I could go to either one of them when I needed someone to talk to. They are like family.”

“Amy and Eric have been one of the best coaches ever that I've had since fourth grade,” freshman Morgan McClung said. “They pushed us to the point where we become the best version of ourselves.”

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Residents, Leaders Sound Off on Rate Increase

February 01, 2024 |

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

Pennsylvania American Water Company acquired the assets of the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport in 2017. The company is proposing a rate increase for both sewer customers served by the McKeesport treatment plant as well as water customers in Liberty and West Mifflin. (Tube City Almanac photo illustration)

Residents in the Mon Valley took the opportunity to speak to representatives of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission this week at the first pair of public input hearings regarding a rate increase request by Pennsylvania American Water Company.

At a public hearing at the Port Vue municipal building, state Rep. Matthew Gergely of McKeesport called proposed rate increases to water and sewerage rates “extreme and unprecedented.”

About 50 people attended the hearing. Port Vue Councilman Bob Betters said he was also opposed to the proposed increase. Noting that PAWC said that it wants to make “infrastructure upgrades” as one of the reasons for a rate increase, Betters said, “You bought this junk car, you should have to fix it — not us.”

In 2017, PAWC purchased the assets of the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport and began providing sewage services to at that time 64,000 people in McKeesport, Duquesne, Dravosburg, White Oak, North Versailles, East McKeesport, Elizabeth, Glassport, Liberty, Port Vue and Versailles.

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