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Boys & Girls Club Planning New Facility in City

December 12, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Students participating in the Career Works program at the Tube City Center for Business and Innovation pose with Lisa Abel-Palmieri, Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania president and chief executive officer (fourth from right) and Emily Donato, career development coordinator (sixth from right). (Tube City Almanac photo)

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania is scouting locations for a new, larger facility in McKeesport that would serve a much broader footprint in Allegheny County.

Lisa Abel-Palmieri, president and chief executive officer, told Tube City Almanac the Pittsburgh-based non-profit wants to serve a growing demand for services for young people in the Mon Valley and eastern boroughs of Pittsburgh.

"We're excited to continue to grow our footprint in the Mon Valley," she said.

The new facility would include a "maker space" for STEM education, community center, gymnasium space and classrooms, Abel-Palmieri said. Although the facility is still in the planning stage, the organization hopes to possibly break ground in "two to three years" and will need to raise funds to it possible, she said.

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Mon-Yough School Districts Say
'We All Face Similar Challenges'

December 11, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: Duquesne News, McKeesport and Region News

Linda Iverson, Wilkinsburg school superintendent, says some of her students are dealing with multiple generations of poverty and trauma. (Richard Finch Jr. photo)

Related story: School districts seek relief, changes to charter school law

School superintendents who attended a press conference in McKeesport on Thursday said most urban school districts in the Mon-Yough area --- and across the country --- face similar challenges created by poverty.

In the Wilkinsburg School District, about 99 percent of approximately 1,000 students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, said Linda J. Iverson, superintendent.

Some of them are coming from generations of poverty and "fragmented" home environments, she said.

“It's not just that they're coming in from trauma-informed instances," she said. "They may not have had food or sleep the night before, or they may not have clothes.”

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School Officials Seek Relief,
Changes to Charter School Laws

December 11, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Mark Holtzman Jr., McKeesport Area School District superintendent, voices his frustrations with Pennsylvania's charter school law at a press conference on Thursday. (Richard Finch Jr. photo)

Related story: Mon-Yough area districts say 'we all face similar challenges'

Charter schools are causing “financial instability” to urban school systems, said McKeesport Area School District Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. and officials from other area districts, who participated in a state-wide rally Thursday to ask Pennsylvania legislators for charter school reform.

The news conference held in McKeesport was part of an effort among nearly 20 other districts and timed to coincide with the 64th anniversary of the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycotts sparked by Rosa Parks.

State Sen. Jim Brewster joined Holtzman and school district superintendents Sue Moyer of Duquesne City, Nancy Hines of Penn Hills and Linda J. Iverson of Wilkinsburg to discuss the impact of charter school funding in Mon Valley school districts.

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District Hires State Trooper As 1st Police Chief

December 06, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Crime and Police News, McKeesport and Region News

A Pennsylvania state trooper has been named the first chief of McKeesport Area School District’s new police force.

Bob Boyle of White Oak, currently assigned to the Gibsonia barracks, will start in January 2020. An official start date is pending his formal retirement from the state police, Boyle said.

At the school board’s reorganizational meeting on Wednesday, school directors voted 8-1 to hire Boyle. School Director David Donato cast the only dissenting vote.

The chief’s job has been budgeted at $55,000 per year. The school district also will be advertising for three police officers at $25 per hour, School Board President Joe Lopretto said.

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Repairs Beginning Soon at People’s Building

December 05, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

For the first time in anyone’s memory, holiday lights are decorating the windows of the People’s Bank Building, Downtown. Building owner Jonathan Stark and volunteers decorated the building in time for McKeesport’s Light-Up Night on Wednesday. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Scaffolding will be going up soon on part of the People’s Bank Building as workers replace a tile that fell into Lysle Boulevard on Nov. 27, and make other repairs to the facade.

Owner Jonathan Stark said an engineer visited the site on Monday and determined that each of the tiles was supposed to be secured with four metal anchors. On the tile that fell, two of the anchors were missing or never installed in the first place, Stark said.

The tile fell from the facade on the “annex” of the building that overlooks the corner of Lysle Boulevard and Walnut Street. The annex was reportedly built in the 1940s, after Lysle was widened.

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Parade Winners Honored at Light-Up Night

December 05, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Members of LaRosa Boys & Girls Club joined McKeesport city officials Downtown on Wednesday night for a Light-Up Night celebration.

For the first time, the city's holiday tree is located not in Kennedy Park, but in the nearby lobby of the Tube City Center for Business and Innovation, the former Daily News Building.

Participants in the Boys & Girls Club’s Career Works Teen Workforce Development Program, which meets in the Tube City Center on weeknights, served hot chocolate and refreshments to guests, while Paul Anselmo of New Century Careers, which is offering machinist training in the building, provided tours of his group’s classroom space.

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City Council OK’s 2-Mill Property Tax Increase

December 05, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Click to read Mayor Michael Cherepko’s budget message (PDF reader required)


McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko's 2020 budget message (PDF)

McKeesport’s 2020 preliminary budget (PDF)

Listen to the mayor’s message to council (MP3 file)

McKeesport city council has approved a 2-mill increase in property taxes for 2020.

The increase comes despite a nearly $2 million decrease in projected spending for next year.

Mayor Michael Cherepko told council the city must continue to address annual budget deficits that in the past were paid for through asset sales and other one-time fixes.

Selling the sewerage authority in 2017 “bought us time to try to fix things,” and spending cuts have helped, but expenses are still outpacing revenues by about $1 million per year, Cherepko said.

The city has only increased property taxes once since 2001, when council actually lowered the tax rate on vacant land. In retrospect, that may have been a mistake, Cherepko said.

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Mon-Yough Districts to Join
Statewide Public School Rally

December 04, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport, Duquesne, South Allegheny and other local school districts will participate in a statewide rally on Thursday demanding more oversight of Pennsylvania’s charter schools.

A group called Pennsylvania League of Urban Schools, or PLUS, is planning simultaneous press conferences at 12 noon at nearly 20 different school districts, calling on Gov. Tom Wolf and the state General Assembly to address what its leaders call “unfair and inequitable” funding.

“We are coming together in solidarity to stand up for fair funding,” said Stephen Rodriguez, president of PLUS and superintendent of the Pottstown Area School District, located about an hour northwest of Philadelphia in eastern Pennsylvania.

Other local districts planning to participate in Thursday's rally include Clairton, Penn Hills, Steel Valley, Wilkinsburg and Woodland Hills.

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Dislodged Panel Closes Lane of Lysle Blvd.

November 28, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Tube City Almanac photo)

A stone panel fell from the People's Building on Wednesday afternoon, causing one lane of Lysle Boulevard to be closed Downtown.

No one was injured when the block fell at around 1 p.m. from the third-story corner of the so-called annex of the building, at the corner of Lysle Boulevard and Walnut Street.

McKeesport police, firefighters and ambulance rescue services responded to the scene.

The sidewalk near the building and part of one lane of Lysle Boulevard remained closed on Thursday.

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City’s 55th Santa Parade Has
Large Crowd, Pleasant Weather

November 25, 2019 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Area High School cheerleaders were among more than 70 different units in the city’s 55th annual Salute to Santa parade. (Vickie Babyak photos, special to Tube City Almanac)

Pleasant weather --- a welcome change --- drew a large crowd Saturday morning to Fifth Avenue for McKeesport’s 55th Annual Salute to Santa parade.

The parade got underway just after 11 a.m., following a performance of "Joy to the World" by McKeesport Area High School senior Joey Young. State Sen. Jim Brewster served as parade marshal.

Video was streamed live by Tube City Online and its radio station, WMCK, from the corner of Fifth and Walnut streets.

Photographer Vickie Babyak captured these scenes for Tube City Almanac.

(All photos: Vickie Babyak. For reprint information, email

Serra Catholic High School Eagle Marching Band and McKeesport Area High School Tiger Marching Band prepare for the parade under the Jerome Street Bridge.

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