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A Note of Apology and Explanation

April 08, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

I wanted to write a quick note about the audio feed of Wednesday’s council meeting, and apologize and take responsibility for some technical problems.

I know there was intense interest in the meeting because of the lawsuit filed over access, and because residents wanted to address the Dec. 20 manhunt for a suspect accused of shooting a police officer.

We did hear from several people during the meeting that they were having trouble hearing, or that the audio was dropping out, and I apologize.

There was no intention to censor anyone’s remarks. We worked as quickly as we could to rectify the problems in real time.

• If you missed any of the audio, you can find a downloadable MP3 at our website. It was posted less than an hour after the meeting ended.

• For those who do not have the ability to listen to MP3s, there is another file on YouTube that includes the entire meeting.

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Shopping Malls: A Retail and Social Experience

April 06, 2021 |

By Dianne Ribecca | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Opinions expressed in editorials and commentaries are those of their authors, and are not those of Tube City Community Media Inc., its board of directors, volunteers, contributors or donors. Responsible replies are welcome.

Eastland Mall in North Versailles Twp., located on a hill overlooking McKeesport and Duquesne, was demolished more than a decade ago. The mall is rumored to become the site of a new distribution center. (Photo by Jacob via Flickr, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

More than a decade after the demolition of Eastland Mall in North Versailles Twp., a developer is planning to build a distribution center on the property, reportedly for

Most people in this area can probably remember Eastland Mall, which closed permanently in 2005. When the mall first opened in 1963, its major tenants were department stores such as Gimbels and J.C. Penney Co.

Some might even remember that the North Versailles Library was in that mall. I recall regularly going to the library with my mother and sister to pick out books.

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What Others Are Saying About Senate Dispute

January 05, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Tuesday’s decision by the Republican majority in the Pennsylvania State Senate not to seat state Sen. Jim Brewster of McKeesport has made national and international headlines, with even a cartoonist from Nairobi, Kenya, weighing in.

Here’s what some media outlets are saying:

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Commentary: Legalize Cannabis,
Reform Criminal Justice System

October 23, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Gov. Tom Wolf and Pardons Board Secretary Brandon Flood (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania file photo from November 2019)

Opinions expressed in editorials and commentaries are those of their authors, and are not those of Tube City Community Media Inc., its board of directors, volunteers, contributors or donors. Responsible replies are welcome.

By Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, State Rep. Jake Wheatley and Brandon Flood

Earlier this year, House Bill 2050 was introduced — a measure to allow for the legal sale of adult-use cannabis (marijuana) through a permitting structure for growers, processors and dispensaries.

There are several great components contained in this bill, including provisions to help our youth, support affordable housing, and provide resources to help minority and women-owned businesses. In addition, it would provide a much-needed influx of revenue to our state at a time when we face significant economic challenges.

Unfortunately, one component of the bill that got lost in the media attention following its introduction is the Cannabis Clean Slate initiative, which would provide for the expungement of cannabis-related offenses for non-violent drug offenders.

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Writer: COVID-19 Doesn’t Stop Charity Runs

August 03, 2020 |

By Dianne Ribecca | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Clad in face masks, runners gathered under the Boston Bridge in Elizabeth Twp. on Sunday for a 5K run to raise funds for the Pet Adoption League of Westmoreland County. (Dianne Ribecca photo for Tube City Almanac)

My goal this year was to run one 5K race event a month for charity. These five-kilometer runs provide financial support and awareness to a selected non-profit organization. 

I managed to do one in January, February and March — but then the world closed down.  Families, businesses, municipalities and — of course — non-profit organizations have felt and continue to feel the pain.

On Sunday, despite the ever-changing world of coronavirus precautions, Team Brunazzi Events of Elizabeth Twp. was able to put on its Solar Vortex 5K/15K race with proceeds going to the Pet Adoption League, a no-kill animal rescue organization located in Yukon, Westmoreland County.

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Viewpoint: Take Time to Tiptoe Through the Tulips

May 05, 2020 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

(All photos: Courtesy Vickie Babyak)

I was on a car ride with my camera exploring the neighborhood to photograph scenery. In an empty parking lot of a local office building in Dravosburg, I noticed tulips surrounding the area and I wanted to capture the beauty of their vivid cup-shaped flowers with photography.

Tulips are bulbous spring-flowering plants of the lily family and are perfect for bouquets or floral gardens. I was curious about the flowers’ origin and what they symbolize. I started searching Google and was surprised to find information unknown to me about the flowers.

They come in a variety of colors and like many flowers; the different colors have their own significant meaning.

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Mayor: Practice Social Distancing,
Take Care of Loved Ones

April 02, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko on Wednesday released the following letter to residents:

With the novel COVID-19 coronavirus making an impact not only on our operations here at the City of McKeesport, but in the daily lives of each and every one of our residents, it is important that we remind ourselves what makes the McKeesport community strong.

As we continue to observe social distancing, hygiene and safety recommendations from national and state officials, it is important that we keep open our lines of communication with our neighbors, local businesses and local leaders.

Check in on folks who may need assistance with food or other services during these uncertain times, and be on the lookout for new information via regional news outlets and the “City of McKeesport — Mayor’s Office” Facebook page for local updates to changes in our services as well as surveys that help the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania determine what resources may be needed in our community.

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Writer: Women Should Not ‘Suffer in Silence’

March 31, 2020 |

By Emily Pidgeon | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

(Image courtesy National Institutes of Health)

March was Endometriosis Awareness Month. One in 10 women suffers with endometriosis.

Writer Emily Pidgeon is sharing her story to explain what the month has meant to her, and also in hopes that her story “speaks to other women out there who may be suffering in silence.”

What does it mean when someone says “quality over quantity”?

Most people would agree their first thoughts are of products. You get what you pay for. When you buy cheap, you get cheap.

But what is the cost of quality of life? I don’t know if we will ever be able to put a price tag on it. It is of epic proportions. It requires making decisions that are so monumental, that faced with greater adversity, you make them anyway.

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Viewpoint: Spring Arrives, So Will Better Days

March 21, 2020 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

(All photos: Courtesy Vickie Babyak)

During stressful and uncertain times spring reminds me that life continues on. It helps me feel secure to see nature’s growing plants and amazing creatures. Spring feels like a new beginning and a perfect time to rejuvenate myself. I breathe in the fresh air of a new season and it clears away my dreary thoughts of winter.

I find comfort in nature and can patiently spend a couple hours in my backyard with my camera hanging around my shoulders. I love photographing the beauty of flowering plants, budding trees and especially native birds. I notice the details of a tiny flower bud, raindrops on a petal, playful squirrels, the colors of spring emerging from earth, and sweet chirping birds on branches. I capture the memorable image with my camera.

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Ornstein: Stop Comparing COVID-19
to Flu—It’s Far Worse

March 14, 2020 |

By Charles Ornstein | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Empty streets in Milan, Italy, caused by partial quarantine. “The silence is eerie,” says photographer Alberto Trentanni. (Alberto Trentanni photo via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

Editor’s Note: Charles Ornstein is a deputy managing editor at ProPublica, overseeing the Local Reporting Network, which works with local news organizations to produce accountability journalism on issues of importance to their communities.

This story originally appeared at ProPublica. It is reprinted under a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) license. ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

As a longtime health care reporter, the unfolding coronavirus pandemic represents everything I’ve read about — from the early days of epidemiology to the staggering toll of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic — but had not covered in my lifetime.

And still, I have been caught off guard by the pushback from top elected officials and even some friends and acquaintances who keep comparing it to the flu.

“So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu,” President Trump wrote on Twitter on March 9. “It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

By Friday, Trump had declared coronavirus a national emergency, freeing up resources and removing hurdles for a faster response.

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