For Duquesne City Councilman Derek Artim, the second time running for office was the charm.
On May 16, the Duquesne native ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and with no Republicans running, Artim — barring a successful write-in campaign by a challenger — is expected to win a full four-year term in November.
A corporate operations officer for Dollar Bank, Artim said he wanted to put his 21 years’ worth of retail banking experience to work in his hometown, which is preparing to exit Act 47 state financial oversight. The city has been under financially distressed status since 1991.
Duquesne will use $51,000 to demolish several vacant homes, and officials are also looking at two additional properties that may need attention.
At this month’s meeting, city Solicitor Myron Sainovich said the properties in question are 11 S. Fifth St., 117 N. Fourth St., 1006 Sherman Ave. and 32 Meadow St. Residents also asked the city to evaluate 114 N. Fifth St. and 721 Mifflin St., to see if they need to be boarded up.
There was also discussion with council regarding street repair, namely on two sections of Center Street. Council decided to look into the cost of repairs and follow up at a later meeting.
The City of Duquesne will file paperwork to exit state oversight on May 19.
At this month’s council meeting, Act 47 Coordinator George Dougherty reported that after the paperwork is filed, the public will be invited to attend a meeting at City Hall on June 8 to comment and make suggestions about the proposed plan for the city to leave “financially distressed” status.
State Act 47 of 1987, also known as the Financially Distressed Communities Act, was created in the wake of the collapse of the steel industry. It gives fiscally strapped municipalities the chance to access state government assistance, restructure their debt and take other steps to restore financial health, in exchange for being subject to increased scrutiny by state officials.
Duquesne has been classified as “financially distressed” since 1991. Only five other communities — Aliquippa, Braddock, Rankin, Franklin in Cambria County, and Farrell in Mercer County — have been on the list longer.
Duquesne residents who have seen their sewerage bills increase as much as 29 percent are complaining to city council.
Councilman Aaron Adams noted that he has received many calls from concerned citizens after they received their most recent invoices. Sewerage in Duquesne is handled by Pennsylvania American Water Co., which purchased the McKeesport municipal sewer authority in December 2017.
The rate increase was approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, not by the city, Adams said.
Duquesne City Council on Tuesday night voted to dissolve its little-used Redevelopment Authority, and is in the process of joining Allegheny County’s larger agency.
By a 4-0 vote, with Councilman Timothy Caldwell absent, city officials went through with previously-discussed plans to eliminate the authority.
Mayor Scott Adams said the city originally planned until a new city manager was hired, but ultimately decided that they needed to get it done.
Solicitor Myron Sainovich said that all of the proper paperwork has been delivered to his office and the next step in the process is to join Allegheny County’s infrastructure agency. A resolution was then adopted, 4-0, for the city to participate in the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County’s RAAC Vacant Property Recovery Program.
A video produced by Divine Restoration Church of God in Christ is being used to introduce the “Wake Up!” campaign to Duquesne. Organizers are hoping the message takes root in McKeesport, as well. (YouTube)
Rallies in McKeesport and Duquesne this week will bring together multiple faiths and community organizations in an effort to urge young people to “Wake Up!” from their apathy and work to reduce gun violence.
Walkers will gather at 1:30 p.m. Thursday (March 30) at the Healthy Village Learning Institute, located at the former St. Pius V School, then walk along Versailles Avenue to the Family Dollar store at 3215 Versailles Ave.
“We timed this so that kids would be coming home from school about that time,” says the Rev. Jessica McClure Archer, pastor of Sampson’s Mills Presbyterian Church in White Oak. “We want to tell them, ‘wake up, you’re beautiful, you’re smart.’ We want to speak into the void of hopelessness so many of them are feeling.”
That walk is open to the public.
On Friday, Duquesne School District teachers and staff will attend a separate event being organized by the Rev. Eric Ewell, pastor of Divine Restoration Church of God in Christ and director of continuing education at Penn State Greater Allegheny Campus.
Lane restrictions and delays are possible beginning Monday while crews inspect the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge.
Steve Cowan, district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said workers from AECOM will conduct bridge inspection activities from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays until April 7, weather permitting.
Meanwhile, delays also are likely on Route 837 near Kennywood while workers complete repairs to the pedestrian tunnel connecting the amusement park to the parking lot.
Single-lane restrictions are possible in both directions between Hoffman Boulevard and Glencairn Street, from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., beginning Monday and continuing through March 30, PennDOT said.
Crews from JET Excavating Co. are conducting the work.
Motorists should be prepared for changing traffic patterns, a PennDOT spokeswoman said.
A Duquesne man accused of shooting a city police officer is headed to court.
At a preliminary hearing Thursday morning before Magisterial District Judge Richard D. Olasz Jr. in West Mifflin, Shyhiem Cortez Berry, 28, was ordered held for court on charges of attempted murder of a law-enforcement officer, aggravated assault, making terroristic threats and criminal trespass.
Berry is charged by Allegheny County police in connection with an incident in Duquesne early on the morning of Feb. 22. According to the criminal complaint, police were called to the area of Catherine and Ferndale streets at 12:11 a.m. for reports of a rideshare driver being threatened with a gun.