Reader: Is ‘Police’ Right Name for School Security?

May 23, 2024 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Letters to the Editor

Thomas Lorenchick of Versailles writes:

As per your recent article, (“MASD Board Questioned on School Policing,” May 10), I think that Ms. Walker-Montgomery raises some valid points in her analysis of the problems in McKeesport Area School District.

However, I would ask the question: Does this problem arise from nomenclature? I have seen the word “police” used on vehicles associated with institutions of higher education. They used to say “campus security.” Now, it seems this trend has trickled down to high schools.

The word “police,” in my opinion, should be reserved for municipalities, states and the military. And, yes, they are a necessary part of any civilized society, often laboring at a difficult job.

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Local Groups Support Memorial Day Activities

May 23, 2024 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements

More than 40 volunteers from Peoples Gas placed flags on the graves of 2,000 veterans in McKeesport & Versailles Cemetery last week. (Submitted photo courtesy Peoples Gas)

Volunteers from Peoples Gas fanned out through McKeesport & Versailles Cemetery on Friday to place 2,000 American flags on the graves of veterans.

Despite inclement weather, about 40 employees completed the task in less than two hours with help from Amvets members, said Nick Paradise, Peoples Gas spokesman.

“While many of the veteran graves are in designated sections, plenty were within family plots or otherwise isolated, so our team spread out amongst the 44,000 gravestones to do our best to mark and honor each veteran, as well as the Civil War and WWII memorials,” Paradise said.

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Sale of White Oak Giant Eagle is Confirmed

May 23, 2024 |

By Tom Leturgey | Posted in: White Oak News

For weeks, residents of White Oak and surrounding communities had heard rumors about the future of their local Giant Eagle supermarket in Oak Park Mall.

When a reporter for Tube City Almanac originally contacted the store, employees declined to comment; however, a few days later, the family that has owned the supermarket since it opened in 1993 released a joint statement along with O’Hara Twp.-based Giant Eagle Inc.

“After more than 50 years in the supermarket industry, the Scozio family has decided to retire and transition the operations of its two Giant Eagle locations at 2001 Lincoln Way Oak Park in White Oak and at 2000 Penny Lane Drive in Penn Twp. to Giant Eagle, Inc.,” the statement said.

The move from independent ownership to corporate ownership was being completed this month.

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Rotary, Lions Clubs Install Peace Pole at Renzie

May 22, 2024 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, White Oak News

Craig Anlauf helps position the new Peace Pole in Renziehausen Park. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)

Spreading a universal message of peace, members of the White Oak Rotary Club and McKeesport Lions Club gathered Thursday evening to install a Peace Pole at the entrance of the Stephen Barry Field in Renzie Park.

“It’s the first year the Rotary Club and Lions Club collaborated on a project,” said Dan Dougherty, governor-elect of Rotary District 7305.

Incoming Rotary Club president Craig Anlauf said, “We're stronger together and it's the beginning of a long relationship.” Both clubs have common goals in serving their communities, he said.

The Peace Pole Project was created in Japan during the 1980s and was inspired by the work of philosopher, poet and singer Masahisa Goi, who believed that a common worldwide prayer for peace could unite the world in harmony.

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Health Department Seeks Comments on Air Plan

May 22, 2024 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

(Source: Allegheny County Health Department)

The Allegheny County Health Department is requesting public comment on its 2025 Air Monitoring Network Plan, an annual report that provides a detailed description of how and where air pollution is monitored in Allegheny County.

Comments will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. on June 14. Comments may be submitted via e-mail to

The 2025 Air Monitoring Network Plan is a document required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It provides the specific location of each monitoring station, siting criteria, monitoring methods and objectives, frequency of sampling, pollutants measured at each station and aerial photographs showing their physical location.

The 2025 Air Monitoring Annual Network Plan was posted onto the ACHD Air Quality website on May 16. All correspondence must include first and last name and a complete mailing address. It can be downloaded as a PDF.

General information on the ACHD Air Quality Program’s public comment periods can be found online.


Jobless Rate at Record Low in PA, Researchers Say

May 22, 2024 |

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

(Source: Keystone Research Center)

Although polls show that Pennsylvanians are concerned about the economy, research indicates that the unemployment rate statewide is at a record-low number, and better even than the rate nationally.

In April, the state’s jobless rate stayed at 3.4 percent, an all-time low in Pennsylvania, better than the national rate of 3.9 percent.

Maisum Murtaza, research associate at the Keystone Research Center, said the positive trend has been ongoing for months, with the rate hovering between 3.2 and 3.4 percent over the past year.

He saod the job market is recovering from the COVID pandemic and workers are starting to gain a bit more power in the labor market.

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Motorcycle Crashes Kill 2 in North Versailles

May 22, 2024 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News, North Versailles Twp. News

Motorcycle crashes claimed the lives of two men in separate incidents Sunday in North Versailles Twp.

The first, just after 4 p.m., involved a minivan and a motorcycle on Fifth Avenue just north of the McKeesport city limits. The second happened on Route 30 just five hours later.

Allegheny County police are investigating both cases.

In the first incident, county police said a motorcycle driven by Benjamin Petkovsek, 23, of Monroeville collided with a minivan near the intersection of Fifth and Westinghouse avenues just after 4 p.m. Sunday.

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MASD Restricts In-School Cell Phone Use

May 17, 2024 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Adam Reinherz photo)

In a move that officials said is designed to cut down on distractions and improve student safety, McKeesport Area School District is restricting student access to cell phones.

This week the school board approved purchase of approximately 2,200 Yondr pouches at a cost of $60,100. The pouches will be distributed to students at Founders’ Hall Middle School and McKeesport Area High School.

Popular in districts nationwide, the small neoprene sacks ensure students cannot employ various smart devices during the school day.

“These are going to be purchased by us. They are provided to each student. The students will be responsible for them on a daily basis. They stay on their person. It is strictly the students’ responsibility,” school board member Matthew Keller said.

Each student will be asked to put cell phones, smart watches, ear buds and similar devices into a personal Yondr patch when they enter school. The pouch then is magnetically sealed. Keller said the student can take the pouch with them during the day, but can only re-open it with an electronic unlocking device.

The goal is to “reduce distractions — any bullying or anything — during the school day,” he said.

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MASD Board Questioned on School Policing

May 10, 2024 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Adam Reinherz photo)

The chief executive officer of Take Action Advocacy Group is questioning the legal authority of school police officers on McKeesport Area School District campuses.

During the district’s open agenda meeting Fawn Walker-Montgomery, CEO and co-founder of Take Action, probed the MASD board about what policies determine when students are cited or arrested.

“My organization gets calls all the time in regards to complaints, with people saying that their children have been arrested here and taken to McKeesport police station,” she said during the citizen comment portion of the meeting. “Some of these kids are in fifth grade or younger. Some of them are high school age.”

“First and foremost, their role is to protect our citizens,” replied board member and safe schools committee member Dan Goughnour. “They’re here to protect students. Now do kids get arrested? Absolutely. That happens. People make mistakes. But they are first and foremost here to protect our students.”

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Suspenseful ‘Night Watch’ Returns to MLT Stage

May 10, 2024 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment

Chelsea Conway as Blanche Cooke, close friend of Elaine Wheeler, interacts with Steven Gallagher as Elaine's husband John Wheeler in McKeesport Little Theater’s “Night Watch.” (Submitted photo by Jennifer Vertullo/McKeesport Little Theater)

If you go...


“Night Watch”

Where: McKeesport Little Theater, 1614 Coursin St., (412) 673-1100,

When: Friday, May 10, Saturday, May 11, Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays May 11 and May 19 at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $15 for adults, $10 for students, available through the MLT website or by calling the theater. 

It’s taken more than four years, but the mystery thriller “Night Watch” returns to the McKeesport Little Theater stage, with most of the original cast and director back together again.

As part of the 2020 season, the production was shut down that March, along with public gatherings of all kinds, because of restrictions to try to stem the spread of Covid.

“Night Watch” opens today (May 10) and continues this weekend and May 17-19.

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Air Advocate: Rotten-Egg Smell Has Likely Source

May 09, 2024 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: State & Region

Editor’s note: The writer of this story has a conflict of interest. He is a U.S. Steel shareholder.

A local clean-air advocate argued Wednesday there is only one likely source of a rotten-egg smell that has plagued the Mon-Yough area for weeks — and it’s U.S. Steel’s Clairton Plant.

Patrick Campbell, executive director of the Group Against Smog & Pollution, said that a 2023 study by the Allegheny County Health Department concluded that nearly all hydrogen sulfide, or H2S, pollution in the region is the result of operations at Clairton Plant, which makes coke, a blast-furnace fuel, by super-heating coal to remove impurities.

“We know the source of the stench,” he said in a phone interview. “Something is going on at Clairton Coke Works that’s resulting in these emissions.”

Last week, Allegheny County Councilman Bob Macey convened a meeting of 40 first-responders, representatives from corporations, and local, county and state officials to discuss the ongoing odor. The smell — which seems to come and go — has resulted in countless calls to local fire departments by residents concerned that they have a natural gas leak.

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Rotten-Egg Odor Vexes Companies, Local Officials

May 07, 2024 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: State & Region

* Editor’s Note — This story was corrected after publication. Paragraphs marked with * have been edited.

Conflict of interest notice: The writer of this story is a U.S. Steel shareholder.

U.S. Steel said its Mon Valley facilities, including Irvin Plant, seen here from Glassport, are operating normally. A “rotten egg” or “natural gas” smell reported by residents from West Homestead to Clairton. (Tube City Almanac photo)

A persistent smell of rotten eggs or natural gas in the Mon-Yough area has not been traced to leaks in any natural gas pipelines and local companies and officials are having a difficult time tracking its source.*

Last week, personnel from local fire departments, utility providers, U.S. Steel and a variety of agencies met to discuss the smell, which has plagued communities from West Homestead to Clairton.

There is no immediate danger to the public, according to an email from Allegheny County Councilman Bob Macey of West Mifflin, who convened the meeting.

“It’s been going on for a few months at least,” said Nick Paradise, a spokesperson for Peoples Gas, the dominant natural gas supplier in the McKeesport region. “It’s not necessarily every day — it ebbs and flows.”

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Advocate Urges City: Avoid Gentrification

May 03, 2024 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

An architect’s rendering shows what the 100 block of Fifth Avenue, Downtown, could look like once the former Penn-McKee Hotel is demolished and replaced with a new structure. (Courtesy Stromberg/Garrigan & Associates, Inc.)

Related story: City Foresees Redevelopment of Hotel Site

A community advocate who works with local residents re-entering the workforce cautioned McKeesport city officials not to repeat the mistakes made in Pittsburgh neighborhoods such as East Liberty and Point Breeze.

Keenon Mikell, executive director of First Step Recovery Homes and founder of BuildNBlock Community Advocacy, told council that plans to redevelop the area around the former Penn-McKee Hotel must be careful not to leave current McKeesport residents behind.

“I don’t want to minimize the effort,” Mikell said. “McKeesport needs that boost to the economy ... But what I’m hearing from the presentation petrifies me, because what I’m seeing is what we’ve seen in East Liberty, which is gentrification.”

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Witness Describes Moment When Children Fell

May 03, 2024 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: White Oak News

A witness has described the fall from a third-story window that seriously injured two White Oak children.

A crowdfunding effort is now underway to help raise money to pay medical bills for Quinton Stephens, 6, and his sister, Elody, 4.

Andi Cartwright said she was out for a walk on Monday afternoon along Ohio Avenue near the Lincoln School Apartments when she heard what she called a “horrific” thud and looked to see Quinton Stephens on the ground, struggling to stand up.

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City Foresees Redevelopment of Hotel Site

May 03, 2024 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Dom Anselmo of KU Resources holds a conceptual drawing of the redeveloped 100 block of Fifth Avenue — showing a new Penn-McKee Hotel — as McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko watches a presentation by Anna Withrow Leisher, an associate project planner from Stromberg/Garrigan & Associates, Inc. (Tube City Almanac photo)

• Related story: Advocate urges city to avoid gentrification

A group of community planners hired by the city have unveiled an ambitious plan to redevelop a block of Fifth Avenue near the McKees Point Marina for entertainment, retail and restaurants in a program designed to create a destination point along the Great Allegheny Passage biking trail.

The proposal, unfortunately, includes demolition of the historic former Penn-McKee Hotel — a decision that McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko called “heartbreaking” but necessary to move the city forward.

“That’s the bad side of it,” Cherepko said. “The good side of it is that we have some very exciting plans that we believe can come to fruition on that site.”

The plans, presented Wednesday night to McKeesport city council and residents, envision redeveloping two Civil War-era houses, a former flower shop and a former Moose lodge that was later used as a Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

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Dravosburg Traffic Signal Installed, Activated

May 01, 2024 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements

(Tube City Almanac photo)

Local officials are praising the speedy installation of a new traffic signal on Richland Avenue in Dravosburg.

The signal, which allows left turns at the intersection of Fifth Street and Richland, near Italian Village Pizza, is one of several improvements made to Dravosburg Hill in the wake of a crash between a car and a school-bus that claimed the life of a Serra Catholic High School student and seriously injured the bus driver and several other passengers.

The light is currently set to blinking red and yellow but will be operating in a few days, said a spokesperson for State Rep. Nick Pisciottano.

The signal was installed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which is currently working on an extension of the Mon-Fayette Expressway — Route 43 — that will cross Richland Avenue not far from the intersection.

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