Campus' 'Free Store' Offers Helping Hand --- No Price Tag Attached

November 19, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News, White Oak News

(Brooke Doerfler photo courtesy Penn State Greater Allegheny)

A new store opened on the McKeesport-White Oak border last week and attracted nearly 40 customers on its first day. And yet it didn't bring in a dime in sales.

Of course, it wasn't supposed to.

The new "Free Store" on the campus of Penn State Greater Allegheny is an outgrowth of the five-year-old Free Store 15104 in Braddock, which takes surplus and donated items and redistributes them to people in need. In 2015, a similar "Free Store" opened in Wilkinsburg.

The Greater Allegheny store, located at the rear of the Frable Building, is totally student-run and is the first on a college campus, says Erin O'Malley, interim director of student affairs.

O'Malley is from North Braddock and is involved with Braddock's Partnership for a Better Community, so she's seen that borough's Free Store up-close and personal.

Shortly after new Chancellor Jacqueline Edmondson arrived in McKeesport, O'Malley introduced her to Giselle Fetterman, founder of the Free Store 15104.

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Friends Salute Dedication of 91-Year-Old Meals Volunteer

November 17, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News, White Oak News

Helen Stratigos, treasurer for McKeesport Meals-on-Wheels, talks with longtime volunteer Lou Zell before a tribute luncheon on Friday as fellow volunteer Chuck Jarrell looks on. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)

For 34 years, neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stayed Lou Zell from his appointed rounds as a letter carrier in McKeesport and White Oak.

And when he retired in 1983, he just kept on delivering --- "Meals-on-Wheels" to elderly residents of McKeesport, White Oak, Port Vue and the surrounding area, every day, five days a week, for another 33 years.

On Friday, White Oak Mayor Ina Jean Marton and Zell's fellow Meals-on-Wheels volunteers saluted his dedication during a luncheon at the Point Pleasant Retirement Community in North Versailles Twp.

"We do meals on wheels so people like you don't have to live here!" Zell, now 91, joked with residents, before sheepishly apologizing to the retirement community's staff, standing nearby.

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'Multiple' Pollution Violations at Braddock's E.T., Say Health Dept., EPA

November 14, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photo: "Edgar Thomson looms" by Dan Buczynski via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

U.S. Steel is in violation of what health department officials called "multiple" air quality regulations at its Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock and North Braddock, an Allegheny County official said Tuesday.

The violations stretch back to February 2016 and continued into 2017, said Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.

"These violations must stop," Hacker said in a prepared statement. "U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson Plant must come into compliance to improve the air quality for the health of all county residents. The health of our county is paramount."

The department, in a joint effort with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, has served the company with a Notice of Violation, she said.

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Boil-Water Order Lifted for Mon Valley, South Hills

November 08, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: News

About 100,000 people in the Mon Valley, South Hills and Washington County can drink up --- water, of course.

Pennsylvania-American Water Co. has lifted a boil-water advisory that affected customers in 55 municipalities, including Clairton, Dravosburg, Elizabeth, Elizabeth Twp., Forward Twp., Glassport, Jefferson Hills, Liberty, Lincoln and West Elizabeth, as well as Finleyville, Union Twp., Monongahela and New Eagle.

"Acceptable test results were obtained from samples collected on (Monday and Tuesday), and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has authorized lifting of the advisory," said Melissa Walters, a spokeswoman for the utility.

The boil-water advisory was issued Monday evening after PAWC technicians noticed that water samples had become "turbid," or cloudy. Water company officials said that turbidity in water can allow dangerous bacteria, viruses or other harmful organisms to flourish.

The cause of the problem has not yet been announced.

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Water Company Hopeful That Boil Order Can Be Lifted Soon

November 07, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Above: Clairton city officials have put a water buffalo with fresh drinking water at the municipal building. (Photo courtesy Mayor Rich Lattanzi, via Facebook.)

Officials at Pennsylvania-American Water Co. are hopeful that a boil-water advisory affecting 100,000 customers in the Mon Valley, South Hills and Washington County can be lifted within the next 24 hours.

Melissa Walters, a spokeswoman for the water company, said Tuesday afternoon that the turbidity --- cloudiness --- in the water that caused the advisory to be issued has been fixed.

"The actual issue was resolved last night, but after any boil advisory we are required by the (state Department of Environmental Protection) to have two clean water samples 24 hours apart," Walters said, "which means the earliest we can lift the advisory is tomorrow afternoon."

Some PAWC customers were urged Monday evening to either use bottled water for cooking, drinking and brushing their teeth, or to bring water to a boil, boil it for at least one minute, and then let it cool before using it.

Mon-Yough communities affected include Clairton, Dravosburg, Elizabeth, Elizabeth Twp., Forward Twp., Glassport, Jefferson Hills, Liberty, Lincoln and West Elizabeth, as well as Finleyville, Union Twp., Monongahela and New Eagle.

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Sentencing Rescheduled for Former State Rep Caught in Gambling Ring

November 07, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

Sentencing for a former state representative caught in an investigation of video poker and illegal gambling has been rescheduled.

Former state Rep. Marc Gergely was to be sentenced on Monday by Allegheny County Judge Ed Borkowski, but court officials said a continuance was granted, and sentencing is now scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 11.

Last week, Gergely resigned from his 35th Legislative District seat, effective Monday.

In August, Gergely, 48, a Democrat from White Oak, pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy and violating state election laws by accepting cash contributions in excess of $100.

Both charges are first-degree misdemeanors carrying penalties of not more than $10,000 in fines or five years' prison or probation.

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PAWC Customers Get Precautionary Boil Water Order

November 06, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Above: Areas in red are affected by Monday's boil-water advisory. (Source: Pennsylvania-American Water Co.)

About 100,000 customers of Pennsylvania-American Water Co. in the Mon Valley, South Hills and Washington County were told Monday evening to boil their water before drinking or cooking with it.

Melissa Walters, a spokeswoman for the water company, said that technicians had noticed during routine testing that the water was unusually "turbid" --- cloudy or hazy-looking --- and were concerned that harmful bacteria might be present.

Turbidity is a key measurement of water safety, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In a prepared release, Jefferson Hills police said Monday afternoon the cloudiness was related to "a serious (water) main break in Jefferson Hills late last week" causing a loss of water pressure in the system, but PAWC did not confirm that detail.

Jefferson Hills was one of the communities affected, along with Clairton, Dravosburg, Elizabeth, Elizabeth Twp., Forward Twp., Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln, and West Elizabeth, and much of Washington County.

South Allegheny School District has cancelled classes for Tuesday due to the water problem, a spokesperson said Monday night, though "12 month employees" should report for work as usual.

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State Regulators OK Sale of City's Sewerage Authority to PAWC

November 02, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photo by Jeff Tomovcsik via Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport website.)


  • Pennsylvania-American to pay McKeesport $159 million for the assets of its sewer system
  • All existing McKeesport authority employees will be offered comparable jobs at PAWC
  • Rates will be frozen for one year
  • PAWC will begin $62.7 million worth of improvements to the McKeesport system
  • State will require PAWC to do "ongoing, targeted outreach" to low-income customers about utility bill assistance

The state Public Utility Commission has voted unanimously to approve the sale of McKeesport's sewerage system to Pennsylvania-American Water Company.

The transaction, valued at $159 million in PUC documents, will affect nearly 13,000 customers in McKeesport, Duquesne, Dravosburg, and Port Vue, as well as thousands of additional customers in Elizabeth Twp., North Versailles Twp., Liberty, Lincoln, Glassport, Versailles, White Oak and East McKeesport whose wastewater is treated by McKeesport's sewage treatment plant, located in lower 10th Ward.

About 64,000 people are affected by the switch.

At their regular meeting Wednesday, McKeesport council voted 7-0 to authorize city officals to formally dissolve the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport, which was created in 1949 to build and operate the sewer system.

Mayor Michael Cherepko said Wednesday the city hopes to close the sale by Nov. 30.

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Mayor: City Acquiring Daily News Building, Plans Digital Media Center

November 01, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

The city of McKeesport is acquiring the former Daily News building and is exploring the creation of a digital media center there, in cooperation with Point Park University, Mayor Mike Cherepko said Wednesday.

Cherepko told city council that officials are close to a deal with the parent company of the Tribune-Review and to purchase the building for what he described as "an unbelievably good price."

Details are expected within a few weeks, he said. "The Trib has truly been working with us to make this a reality," Cherepko said.

There are hopes that part of the building will be used by students in Point Park's Center for Media Innovation, which was launched in 2015 with help from a $2.5 million grant from the Allegheny Foundation. The foundation was created by the late Richard Mellon Scaife, publisher of the Tribune-Review.

"We've got a lot of ideas at this point, but to be honest with you, we don't want to close any windows of opportunity," Cherepko said in an interview Wednesday night.

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Dyson: Americans Need to Talk About Issues We'd Rather Avoid

October 28, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Johnathan White, Penn State history lecturer, listens Friday as author and Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson answers an audience question at Wunderley Gymnasium in McKeesport. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Michael Eric Dyson is tired of people --- in the words of the James Brown song --- "talkin' loud and sayin' nothin."

The award-winning author of 20 books, ordained minister and Georgetown University sociology professor came to McKeesport on Friday night to encourage his audience at Penn State University Greater Allegheny to engage each other in debate on serious issues of race, equality, justice and politics --- but to make sure they have the facts first.

"We need to talk about this stuff that people would rather not talk about, but you have to be informed," Dyson said. "When you have that conversation, have the facts. Just because you 'feel' something, doesn't mean you have the facts."

Dyson's latest book, "Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America," is a searing indictment of apathy and complacency in an age when Nazis and white supremacists have come out of the shadows to march in American streets.

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