Heritage Celebrates 25 Years of Transit Service

July 16, 2024 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Pupils from Heritage Community Initiatives’ out-of-school programs sing “The Wheels on the Bus” for guests and local community leaders. (Photo courtesy City of McKeesport, Office of Mayor Michael Cherepko)

The only non-profit social-service organization in Pennsylvania that provides public transit celebrated its 25th year of service to the Mon Valley by announcing new vehicles, new rider amenities and more.

At a celebration on Tuesday in Braddock, Heritage Community Initiatives announced that Saturday service has been restored on its East Pittsburgh route and that buses will be equipped with wi-fi.

In addition, riders can now request flag stops at locations along the route where buses otherwise do not stop, and a new mobile app will debut later this year.

Joining Heritage staff members for Tuesday’s event were a variety of community leaders and elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Summer Lee of Swissvale and Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato.

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Work Underway to Replace W.O. Bridge

July 16, 2024 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: White Oak News

(Tube City Almanac photo)

A portion of Lincoln Way near Oak Park Mall will remain closed until early August as crews work to replace a bridge over Long Run creek.

Demolition of the Lincoln Way Bridge in White Oak began early Monday morning. Traffic is being detoured via Route 48 to Route 30. Access to Oak Park Mall and White Oak Storage is available, said Steve Cowan, district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

The project is part of a two-bridge contract valued at $6.24 million, Cowan said. The new bridge will be widened several feet to accommodate the lengthening of turning lanes across the structure.

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NV Twp. Fire Claims Life of Local Resident

July 16, 2024 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: North Versailles Twp. News

A North Versailles Twp. man died Sunday evening following a fire at his home on Payne Street.

Mark Gowaty, 68, died at UPMC Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh about six hours after being rescued from the blaze by firefighters, the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office said. Gowaty had suffered burns over most of his body, the medical examiner’s office said.

Crews were dispatched to the home just off Luehm Avenue after 1 p.m. and arrived to find the rear of the home fully engulfed in flame, with smoke coming from other parts of the structure, said fire Chief Vince DiCenzo III of the Fire Department of North Versailles.

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Complaint Alleges Wrong-Way Driver Hit Police Car

July 11, 2024 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A city man is charged with driving under the influence and several moving violations after police said he drove the wrong way on a one-way street and struck a squad car.

Jose Rodriguez-Claudio, 42, is also charged by McKeesport police with speeding, reckless driving, careless driving, driving the wrong way and causing an accident. He is free on his own recognizance pending a preliminary hearing Sept. 16 before Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi.

According to a criminal complaint, an officer was driving on Centennial Street, en route to a call on Grant Street, on the evening of July 7 when he observed a minivan heading toward him at “a high rate of speed.”

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Four Teens Jailed in Convenience Store Robbery

July 11, 2024 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

Four teen-agers — aged 15 to 16 — are being held in the Allegheny County Jail in connection with an armed robbery last week at a Grandview Avenue convenience store.

At a hearing yesterday in Pittsburgh Municipal Court, the youths were ordered held in lieu of $5,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing July 24.

Pennsylvania law requires juveniles who are accused of using a weapon in commission of a felony to be charged as adults. Except in rare cases, Tube City Almanac does not publish the names of minors charged with crimes.

According to a criminal complaint, a group of three young men entered the convenience store on July 4 and a fourth stood outside as a lookout.

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Wilmerding Prepares for Upcoming Bridge Closure

July 10, 2024 |

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

(T.J. Martin photo for Tube City Almanac)

Allegheny County will renovate a bridge which connects the northern and southern portions of Wilmerding beginning in 2026 and will fully close the bridge for an estimated one year beginning in 2027.

The Patton Street Bridge rehabilitation project is being planned by the Allegheny County Department of Public Works with funding from the state Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

The 426-feet long, four-lane bridge carries an average of 8,720 vehicles per day over Turtle Creek, Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, Wall Avenue and Avenue U. The four-span steel girder bridge was built in 1971 and was last rehabilitated in 1999.

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Actors Encouraged to Audition This Weekend

July 10, 2024 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment

(File photo)

McKeesport Little Theater is one of 15 regional companies casting actors when auditions are scheduled Saturday and Sunday (July 13 and 14) to fill more than 50 roles for Pittsburgh News Works Festival’s 33rd season.

Auditions will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m at the Genesius Theater at Duquesne University, 1225 Seitz Street, Pittsburgh 15282. Pre-registration is requested.

“We are one of the original participants and we’re very excited about these auditions,” said MLT’s Jennifer R. Vertullo, who will produce the world premiere of one of the original one-act plays selected for this year’s festival.

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Police: One Dead in Friday Shooting

July 06, 2024 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A day at the park turned tragic for a McKeesport man on Friday afternoon, who died after being struck by a shotgun blast inside an acquaintance’s home on Garbett Street.

David Gamble, 39, was pronounced dead at the scene, the medical examiner’s office said.

Isaiah Bridges, 30, has been charged by county police with criminal homicide in connection with the shooting and is awaiting arraignment, court officials said.

According to an affidavit filed in Allegheny County night court, Bridges told police that he and Gamble had taken a group of children to a nearby park on Friday afternoon and returned to the Garbett Street residence afterward.

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City Preparing Fireworks, Concert for Fourth

July 04, 2024 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements

(Tube City Almanac photo)

McKeesport officials will do “everything we can” to close the Fourth of July with a bang, Mayor Michael Cherepko said Wednesday.

The annual fireworks display at Renziehausen Park is scheduled to begin at 9:45 p.m.

UPDATE: A spokesman said a planned concert by Jeff Jimerson and Airborne has been rescheduled to Sunday.

The National Weather Service in Moon Twp. is predicting “isolated showers” with a 30 percent chance of precipitations. Thunderstorms are expected to move into the area after 10 p.m.

“I’m not going to make a decision to cancel fireworks based on a forecast,” Cherepko said. “We will do everything we can to get fireworks (today). If it’s raining during the day we will probably hold them off until Friday night.”

Due to possible rain, today’s concert by Airborne has been rescheduled to 7 p.m. this Sunday at the bandshell. The next entry in the concert series sponsored by the city and the McKeesport Lions Club is the 1990s cover band The Clintones on July 14, followed by The New Pure Gold on July 21. Admission is free.

A complete schedule is available on the McKeesport Bands Facebook page.


Duquesne Officials Talk Police Vehicle, Paving

July 03, 2024 |

By Tom Leturgey | Posted in: Duquesne News

Duquesne police Chief Tom Shaw is hoping to bolster his department with a new-to-them police vehicle.

At this week’s council meeting, Shaw asked City Manager Douglas Sample, Mayor R. Scott Adams and council to investigate purchasing a used vehicle for officers to drive. He said a 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe currently in the fleet is becoming “too costly to repair.”

“Do we need this vehicle to supplement the fleet?” Adams asked.

Shaw notes that the department has two Ford Explorers that are “drivable” but two newer vehicles are constantly being used, he said. He wants to avoid using those vehicles too much.

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Education Bill Awaits Vote in State Senate

July 02, 2024 |

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

A bill to increase Pennsylvania public school funding by billions of dollars passed the state General Assembly and is awaiting a vote in the state Senate.

House Bill 2370 proposes more than $5 billion extra in funding for the next seven years. It has been referred to the state Senate’s education committee and has not been scheduled for a vote.

Aaron Chapin, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, a union representing more than 187,000 teachers and other school employees, said if the bill is signed into law, it would boost school funding and reflect critical elements of the Basic Education Funding Commission’s majority report.

PSEA strongly supported that report, which was released in January.

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State Secures $244M for Abandoned Mines

July 02, 2024 |

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

Editor’s Note: This story was written by Danielle Smith of Keystone State News Service with additional reporting from Tube City Almanac.

The state Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation received a national award for its cleanup work regarding approximately 27 acres of coal refuse piles in Cambria County, which posed multiple environmental threats to the area. (Photo courtesy state Department of Environmental Protection)

Pennsylvania will receive $244 million this year to clean up the pollution left over from decades of coal mining.

The money is part of $725 million in abandoned mine cleanup funding the Biden administration is providing to more than two dozen states. Pennsylvania has more abandoned coal mines than any other state in the country, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. About 1.4 million Pennsylvanians live within one mile of an abandoned mine.

The most recent funding is the third installment of more than $11 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for cleaning up environmental hazards and pollution by past coal mining operations, aligning with President Joe Biden’s environmental justice initiatives.

“Remediation of abandoned mine lands is critical for the health, safety, and well-being of communities across Pennsylvania,” said Jessica Shirley, acting state secretary of environmental protection. “With this federal funding, we will be able to continue this vital work that protects public health and safety, and put reclaimed land to good use with eligible economic development initiatives.”

According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, more than 5,000 miles of streams in Pennsylvania are impacted by acid mine drainage from abandoned mining sites. Toxic chemicals from mines can harm water sources and result in issues like erosion, DEP said.

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Two Named in Case Lament Lack of Openness

July 02, 2024 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Correction: Carmine Bloise Jr.’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story. We regret the error.

McKeesport has added a page to its website to explain the Right-to-Know Law, as well as a form for requesting information. (Screenshot)

Related Story: City Chastised for Right-to-Know Practices

Two of the people named in a state Open Records office ruling that criticized McKeesport’s handling of requests under the Right-to-Know Law said the city can — and should — do better.

Documentary filmmaker Carmine Bloise Jr., who is collecting police procedure manuals for a project he has been working on for two years, said McKeesport’s procedures for handling such requests were the “worst I’ve ever seen.”

“I thought it was crazy, but apparently it’s a pattern,” Bloise said in an interview. “I do a lot of a right-to-know requests. It’s pretty typical that you don’t get a response. But this is the worst I’ve ever seen. I was astonished.”

In a ruling released last week, the state’s Open Records office cited 10 cases where residents, members of the media, or businesses asked for documents from McKeesport officials.

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City Criticized for Right-to-Know Practices

July 02, 2024 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Related Story: Two Named in Case Lament Lack of Openness

The state agency overseeing access to public records last week issued a scathing report, accusing McKeesport officials of failing to respond to requests for information from members of the media, the general public and commercial businesses.

But city officials said they have responded, and that they have made changes to accommodate a right-to-know process that they argued itself is flawed and sometimes onerous.

In an strongly worded ruling, Catherine Hecker of the state Office of Open Records suggested that the city has opened itself up to civil penalities or sanctions for allegedly ignoring requests from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, KDKA-TV, private companies that specialize in real-estate records, and former McKeesport Area school director Joe Lopretto, who ran for mayor in 2023.

The ruling covers 10 such cases. The Open Records office cannot levy fines or penalties against a municipality. But Hecker wrote that she believes “a judicial finding of bad faith by a reviewing court would be appropriate here.”

Read the Ruling (PDF)

City Solicitor J. Jason Elash said that Hecker’s ruling was “disappointing” and that McKeesport officials have not engaged in any efforts to withhold public information.

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