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Reader’s Viewpoint: Native Plants Key to Area

August 30, 2022 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Vickie Babyak is a photographer and freelance writer from Dravosburg:

Bee balm (Monarda), native to eastern North America, and black-eyed Susans (Rudbekia hirta), native to eastern and central North America, naturalized in the western part; both plants are perennials attracting hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)

The end of summer is near and the first day of autumn arrives on Sept. 22. In reaction to the shorter length of days, seasonal changes can be observed in surrounding trees and plants.

Each season displays its own beauty with growth that is attractive to humans and supportive to the environment.

Native plants are particularly important to nature and some bloom throughout autumn before winter arrives, providing necessary nourishment for a wide-range of diverse wildlife.

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Commentary: Steel Can Have a Strong,
Responsible Future in Pennsylvania

May 25, 2021 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

State Rep. Nick Pisciottano of West Mifflin was recently elected from the 38th Legislative District. He writes:

Imagine this: It is 2023 and President Biden is standing outside of U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson Plant — the first of Andrew Carnegie’s steel mills, built in 1873, that turned Pittsburgh into the Steel City — to announce the country’s most technologically advanced steel making process has just been installed in the plant.

These improvements allow for the continued manufacturing of steel, right here in the Monongahela Valley, and will create the steel of the future used to build high-rises, bridges, vehicles, home appliances and much more, while providing high-quality, union jobs to our community in an environmentally responsible manner. Once again, Pittsburgh would be the center of steel production for the entire nation.

This doesn’t have to be just a dream.

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Reader’s Viewpoint: McKeesport’s ‘Mayor Lou’
Had a Life Well-Lived

April 28, 2021 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

A collage of newspaper clippings from both local and national publications traces Lou Washowich’s career from coach of the McKeesport Little Tigers to one of Allegheny County’s only two full-time mayors. (Tube City Almanac illustration)

Dennis K.E. Pittman served as a community development consultant to McKeesport Mayor Lou Washowich from 1985 to 1989, and as the city’s community development director from 1989 to 2000.

Washowich, who served as mayor from 1980 to 1995, died April 2 at age 81.

Pittman writes:

The measure of a person’s life is often determined by his or her time and place. One’s values may transcend the ages ... the “what-ifs” of what might have happened had one been in a particular situation and place. The bottom line is really, how did someone respond when their name is called?

Lou Washowich — only his beloved bride of 58 years, Jean, was allowed to call him “Louis”! — impacted so many lives in his 81 years that I am confident each and every one of those individuals Lou met could relate their own special remembrance. Hopefully, this will conjure up some memories for them to enjoy.

Lou’s character was forged early in life, growing up poor in a tough industrial town without benefit of a standard nuclear family. He became rich, however, through his experiences and friendships with many days when he did not have a nickel in his pocket.

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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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