In a Hospital Room in McKeesport, a Story of Resilience

June 30, 2017 |

By David Stephens | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

(Kim Ursta and Jason Mollard exchange vows in the chapel at UPMC McKeesport hospital on June 13. UPMC McKeesport photo)


I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into UPMC McKeesport hospital recently to meet Jason Mollard, and his new wife, Kim Ursta.

In late November 2016, Jason was diagnosed with two inoperable brain tumors that caused him to lose his vision.

Jason grew up in McKeesport, and Kim grew up in White Oak. They’ve lived their entire lives in the area, both attending McKeesport High School, although not knowing each other at the time. The community around them has been a pillar of strength for the family in their time of need. Friends, family, and neighbors have raised funds, extended sympathies, prepared meals, and offered support in every way they can.

 
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Mistakes: I Made a Few

June 05, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

When I make mistakes, I try not to waste my time with little ones. I try to make sure they're really dumb ones.

On Friday, I received a press release from the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus about a letter, sent to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, urging the SPC and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to prioritize construction of the Southern Beltway over the northern leg of the Mon-Fayette Expressway.

I quickly wrote up a story and posted it Friday night.

On Saturday, I got a text message: "You have state Rep. Brandon Neuman listed as a Republican. He's a Democrat." I was at a wedding reception (congratulations Kelly and Nick!) but whipped out my phone and checked.

Well, I had assumed that because the Republican Caucus sent the press release, all of the people signing the letters were Republicans. Nope: Sure enough, Rep. Neuman is a Democrat. That was dumb of me.

 
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A Slow Email From China

June 01, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

The following is a commentary. Commentaries represent the viewpoints of individual authors and are not those of Tube City Community Media Inc. or its directors.


Some people are skeptical of claims by American steel companies that Chinese companies are dumping steel pipe on the U.S. market. I've heard them say it's just American companies making excuses for being uncompetitive.

Would you believe that we here at Tube City Community Media get offers to buy steel pipe from China a couple of times per week? Here's one we got just this morning. The smiley face is a nice touch.

Notice that they're selling large-diameter, electric-resistance weld pipe --- exactly the kind of pipe that U.S. Steel was making in McKeesport, and which Dura-Bond Industries is soon going to start making again.

 
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Pittsburgh Penguins: Outstanding in Their Field

May 09, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

We spotted this message mowed into a field near the intersection of Round Hill Road and Route 48 in Elizabeth Twp. Is it the extra boost the Penguins need as they prepare for Game 7 against the Washington Capitals?

The Capitals beat the Penguins, 5 to 2, at PPG Paints Arena in Game 6 of the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs on Monday night. The Pens had a three games to one lead, but, missing both their number 1 goaltender, Matt Murray, and their number 1 defenseman, Kris Letang, the team struggled in Games 4 and 5.

Faceoff for Wednesday's game at the Verizon Center in D.C. is at 7:30. The winner advances to the Eastern Conference finals to face either the New York Rangers or the Ottawa Senators.

 

State Legislature Passes Budget Nine Months Late

March 25, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial, Editorial Cartoons

© 2016 Jason Togyer/Tube City Community Media Inc.

Pennsylvania budget achieves too little, costs too much

The Democratic governor is standing by his principles by not signing the $6 billion remainder of a $30 billion budget that he believes is unbalanced. But, by letting it become law by Monday without his signature, Wolf is sparing school districts the cost of borrowing additional money to make up for undelivered state funding ...

The question for Wolf is why he did not accept defeat on taxes sooner.

The question for Republican state lawmakers is whether their political victory was worth the heavy costs it imposed: on social service agencies that had to cut staff; on counties ... that paid interest on loans or ... lost interest on reserves they had to spend; and on school districts.

The question for both is how they're going to avoid a replay in fiscal year 2016-17, the budget for which is due by June 30.

—Editorial, the Reading (Pa.) Eagle

 
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Reader's Viewpoint: New Norwin High School Club Has Inappropriate Political, Religious Agenda

March 04, 2016 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Opinions expressed in editorials and commentaries are those of individual authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Tube City Community Media Inc. or its directors. Responsible replies are welcomed.

Nicole Noll is a senior at Norwin High School:

Recently, it’s come to my attention that a new student club titled “Knights for Life” has been formed to raise awareness of and promote a pro-life viewpoint amongst the student body. To me, this club has sparked several concerns.

I’d like to start by noting that it seems as if this club has been founded upon political or potentially religious grounds. At Norwin, we have a club for the Christian members of our student body titled “Knights of Faith,” but they’ve never sparked any controversy or publicly shared their views during normal school hours. They’ve been respectful while still honoring their faith.

In order to start a club at Norwin, students involved must first get approval for the idea of their club from the school board and then get a member of the school’s faculty to sign off as the club’s moderator and to help run the meetings. With the case of the Christian “Knights of Faith,” the teacher in charge of the club has never shown or said anything expressing his Christian views during the normal hours of his job.

“Knights for Life,” however, in my opinion, hasn’t shown the same amount of courtesy for students that don’t share those views.

 
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Newspapers' Closure is Sad For Democracy

December 31, 2015 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

The following is a commentary. Commentaries represent the viewpoints of individual authors and are not those of Tube City Community Media Inc. or its directors.

The Daily News asked me for a few words about the paper's closing. Here's what I sent them:

. . .

A wise person once said that news is anything that people in authority don't want printed --- everything else is advertising.

So, it's a very bad day for democracy and for an informed community when any newspaper closes.

Very few cities of the size of McKeesport or Monessen have a daily newspaper any more. In fact --- much, much larger cities like Cleveland and New Orleans now have newspapers that only come out a few days per week.

So, on the one hand, the loss of newspapers such as the Daily News and Valley Independent is something happening all over the country.

But the problem is that when these local newspapers are closing or downsizing, nothing is replacing them.

The reason is that news coverage --- real news coverage, not just re-printing news releases or police reports --- is very, very expensive, and it's hard to make money in publishing on the Internet.

 
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I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

December 17, 2015 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Opinions expressed at Tube City Almanac are those of individual authors, and not those of Tube City Community Media Inc., its directors or volunteers. Responsible replies are welcome.

. . .

McKeesport "has a newspaper graveyard of considerable proportions," wrote Walter Abbott and William Harrison in the 1894 book, "The First One Hundred Years of McKeesport."

And it's going to now be enlarged by one.

There is absolutely nothing positive I can say about yesterday's announcement that the Daily News will close on Dec. 31 after 131 years of service.

It is terrible. Horrible. Awful. Combined with the closure of Monessen's Valley Independent, it means 87 good people will lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

And to emphasize: It is not their fault. It is a result of forces much larger than either paper. In my opinion, it doesn't even say that much about the economics of the Mon Valley, or the economics of newspapering.

. . .

It also --- despite some of the negativity I saw yesterday on the Internet --- doesn't mean there is no hope for the McKeesport area.

(By the way: If you were on the Internet yesterday, and your first reaction to the news of the papers closing was to bash Obama, or blame Republicans, or to say "good, I hated those papers anyway" ... well, you might be a schmuck. And, to quote Dean Martin, "I cleaned that up.")

If the board of directors of Tube City Community Media Inc. didn't think there was hope for the McKeesport area, we wouldn't still be running Tube City Online, and we wouldn't have just launched an Internet radio station, WMCK.FM.

 
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At Work and Play in Ohio

June 24, 2015 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Opinions expressed at Tube City Almanac are those of individual authors, and not those of Tube City Community Media Inc., its directors or volunteers. Responsible replies are welcome.

Last week, my wife and I took a five-day mini-vacation in Ohio, hitting a bunch of the state's small towns --- places such as Piqua, Troy, Chillicothe, Sidney, New Concord --- and visiting friends.

. . .

In Monroe, Ohio, north of Cincinnati, we spent a few hours at the Traders' World flea market, one of the largest and best-organized flea markets I've ever seen.

There was a lady there doing permanent makeup tattoos. Getting a tattoo at the flea market is bad enough, but would you really want a flea-market-based tattoo artist to work on your face?

. . .

Seriously, folks, I want to tell you ...

We had a good time on the trip, though something I wrote five years ago still holds true today; when you travel around the Northeast, you learn that the entire United States has become a nation of McKeesports.

There are many, many towns of McKeesport's size that have an abandoned factory or two or three, with a boarded-up downtown and decaying residential neighborhoods. The factory may have made steel, auto parts, appliances, electronics, plastics, and it may have closed in the 1980s or in the last five years.

But America's industrial heart has really and truly been ripped out, and it's not an issue of which political party was in charge in each of these towns (much of Ohio is solidly Republican), or an issue of race (many of the counties we visited were 95 to 98 percent white).

The only issue is money; the big corporations that made the industrial products in these towns have shipped the jobs overseas. In most cases, they didn't lower their prices and pass their savings onto the consumers; instead, they took their increased profits and paid their executives and a handful of investors obscene wages or perks.

It is very difficult to see how the controversial trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership will possibly improve the situation. The Obama administration claims it will make it easier for American companies to sell their products overseas, but it's not, by and large, overseas companies that are shipping American jobs to China and Korea; it's our own American companies.

 
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