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#TBT: 10 Years Ago in Tube City Almanac

May 03, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: History

This week in 2008, from our files:

McKeesport Mayor Jim Brewster declared his intention to "fire Blue Cross-Blue Shield" as the city's health insurance carrier. The pledge came after Highmark, the Pittsburgh region's Blue Cross licensee and its dominant health care provider, raised the rate on one city plan by $620,000 --- nearly 84 percent.

Brewster scheduled a meeting with another health insurance carrier, saying: "We'll give them a little taste of McKeesport competitiveness."

The new executive director of McKeesport's YMCA said that "failure is not an option," but admitted the 120-year-old institution was struggling with an aging building, a declining number of members and serious debts. The McKeesport Y was considering a merger with the larger YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh and the possibility of selling its building on Sinclair Street.

The American Lung Association named Pittsburgh the "sootiest city" in the United States, surpassing Southern California. The dubious distinction was mainly due to high levels of particulates in the air near U.S. Steel's Clairton Works. The facility produces coke, a fuel created by superheating coal in ovens.

An Almanac editorial noted that many chemicals and medicines are made from the byproducts of coke, and that the Mon Valley needs "the high-paying, blue-collar jobs that Clairton Works and coal-mining provide, (but) we also need clean air."

 


Throwback Thursday: 'Resistance to Change'? Never!

February 08, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: History

I recently stumbled across an October 1949 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story about McKeesport, which includes this photo of two women standing at the intersection of Locust Street and Lysle Boulevard.
 
Except the street signs still bore the name "Jerome Boulevard," years after the street was renamed for Mayor George H. Lysle, who died in 1947.

"Street signs show a resistance to change," the caption says. What? Say it ain't so!
 


10 Years Ago in Tube City Almanac

January 25, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: History

The week of Jan. 21, 2008, from our archives:


State and federal environmental officials were investigating complaints about the Elizabeth Twp. Sanitary Authority. According to published reports, the township's sewage treatment plant had dumped raw, untreated wastewater into the Youghiogheny River on more than 70 occasions in 2006 and 2007.

During the most recent documented incident, state officials said, 6.3 million gallons were dumped into the river on Dec. 16, 2007. The township had contracted operation of the plant to Veolia Water, a French-owned conglomerate. The authority was closed in 2013 and wastewater is now treated at a plant in McKeesport.


McKeesport-based Blueroof Technologies was the subject of a feature story by Tonia Caruso on WQED-TV's "On Q" newsmagazine. The story spotlighted Blueroof's "model cottage," located on Spring Street just off of Walnut Street. The cottage was a "smart house" designed to showcase technologies that allow senior citizens and the disabled to live in their own homes and remain productive. Many of the devices were designed at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh.

 
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#TBT: Daily News Building, Circa 1953

November 30, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: History

With the Daily News Building making some news of its own this month, we thought we'd reach into the Tube City Online archives to show you what the building originally looked like.

As constructed in the 1930s, the Daily News building was about half of its present size. Visible in this photo is the original three-story portion of the building constructed at the corner of Lysle Boulevard (originally called Jerome Avenue) and Walnut Street.

Based on the cars, this photo was probably taken about 1953 or 1954.

 
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National Works Remembered: Bill Copper

November 03, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: History

This year, the 30th anniversary of the closing of U.S. Steel's National Works, I'm continuing to look through items that we collected in 1997 at the McKeesport Daily News on the 10th anniversary --- but for, whatever reason, were never published.

William J. Copper was born in 1914 in McKeesport and was a third-generation National Tube employee --- both his grandfather and father came to McKeesport from West Bromwich, England, to work in the mill.

 
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National Works Remembered: Ed Brush's Poem

November 02, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: History

In 1997, while working at the McKeesport Daily News, I realized that it had been exactly 10 years since U.S. Steel's National Works had closed --- actually, I think I noticed an item under "This Day in History."

Business editor Sue Simkovic, photographer John Barna and I decided to do something we called "The National Works Project," and we asked readers to send us their memories of working in the mill.

For a variety of reasons, none of which I remember (probably lack of space), we didn't use everything we collected. One item I particularly regretted not using was a poem that came to us from a retiree named Ed Brush.

 
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National Works Closed 30 Years Ago This Year

November 01, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: History

This year marked the 30th anniversary of an event that most people in the McKeesport area would probably rather not remember.

On Aug. 29, 1987, the final workers at U.S. Steel's National Plant --- 21 in all --- left work for the last time.

The plant, built by the National Tube Company, beginning in 1872, had once employed 9,000 people, and operated the largest pipe-making mill in the world.

But by 1981, National Plant was reeling. The Texas and Louisiana oil and gas drilling boom of the 1970s had collapsed. Foreign steel mills were exporting products to the United States --- often below the cost to produce them, a practice called "dumping."

Then, in the summer of 1981, the U.S. economy went into recession.

 
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#TBT: McKeesport to Pittsburgh Train Schedule, 1964

September 14, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: History

Throwback this Thursday to 1964, when Mon Valley residents could board a train in Downtown McKeesport --- "all cars air-conditioned" -- to New York, Washington, Baltimore, Akron, Detroit, Chicago ... or Willard, Ohio.

You always wanted to go to Willard, Ohio, didn't you?

The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, whose tracks entered McKeesport between Market Street and Walnut Street in the Seventh Ward, then cut across Walnut Street, Fifth Avenue and Lysle Boulevard, then had six long-distance trains (three westbound, three eastbound) each day that stopped in McKeesport, at a train station roughly on the present site of the Dollar Bank drive-thru location on Lysle Boulevard.

That doesn't count the 16 commuter trains (eight east, eight west) that connected Versailles to Pittsburgh, stopping along the way in Christy Park, McKeesport, Braddock and Rankin. One train each way even went from Connellsville to Pittsburgh, through West Newton, Sutersville and Coulter.

 
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10 Years Ago in Tube City Almanac

May 17, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: History

May 15, 2007: Voters in Pennsylvania overwhelmingly rejected a proposal from Gov. Ed Rendell to allow school districts to lower their property taxes in exchange for enacting higher wage taxes. The referendum called for by Act 1, the "Taxpayer Relief Act," was rejected in 98 percent of Pennsylvania school districts.

As the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition noted at the time, "Part of the issue with funding (Pennsylvania) schools is that rural or older districts do not have the assessed value to support education. If they do not have the assessed value, they will not have the aggregate income level either ... the shift is especially valueless in distressed districts and the overall tax increase in rich districts is smaller than in distressed ones."

In an editorial, Tube City Almanac said Rendell had received a "spanking" from Pennsylvania and suggested that Act 1 was only shifting the tax burden, not reforming an unfair system for funding schools.

For his part, Rendell said voters were "were confused" and didn't have enough information.

"Let's put to rest the legend that Fast Eddie (Rendell) is a political genius," we editorialized. "For whatever reason, he keeps misreading the mood of the citizens and other elected officials, making his political acumen looks less 'David L. Lawrence in his prime' and more 'second-term Milton Shapp.'"

 


10 Years Ago in Tube City Almanac

May 03, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: History

May 1-7, 2007: A district magistrate threw out harassment charges filed against a Versailles woman who put a sign in her front yard criticizing the borough's dog warden and the president of council. Carolyn Leitzell accused Ken Ferree of Ferree Kennels and Council President Walter Winkler of cruelty to animals; they denied the allegations, while District Judge Edward Tibbs dismissed the harassment charge.

Members of the Elizabeth Forward High School band were passengers on a school bus that collided with a tractor-trailer on the Pennsylvania Turnpike between the Morgantown and Downingtown interchanges, shutting down the toll road for several hours. The driver was seriously hurt and 30 other people sustained what were described as "minor injuries."

An Elizabeth Township resident wrote to the Daily News to complain because there were no dancers of "American" ethnicity at McKeesport's International Village. She suggested that square dancing be added to the entertainment.

 

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