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Fire Department to Review Procedures in Grandview Area

June 22, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Residents of McKeesport's Grandview neighborhood should not be alarmed if they see fire trucks --- especially water tankers --- in the area on Saturday morning.

City firefighters and volunteers from other communities will be evaluating new procedures and routes for responding to fires in the neighborhood, McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik said.

Officials are trying to be proactive and plan ahead before an emergency, he said. Lack of water volume at hydrants is being blamed for the damage caused by an early morning fire June 16 on Cleveland Street that sent four people to the hospital, destroyed a family's home and damaged five others, one seriously.

McKeesport is also "actively looking" for a water tanker of its own for the fire department, for use in the Grandview neighborhood, Tomovcsik said.

 
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Authority: Upgrades Will Improve Water Service in Grandview, Other Areas

June 19, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Lack of water is being blamed for the spread of a fire that destroyed this home in the 2600 block of Cleveland Street on Saturday morning. The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County is promising upgrades to the distribution system in the next 12 months. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)


The authority that provides water to McKeesport and neighboring communities plans $2.1 million in upgrades to the distribution system in Grandview and other parts of the city.

"The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County has invested more than $3 million on our McKeesport system in the past 12 months to improve both water supply and quality," said Matthew Junker, authority spokesman, in a prepared statement. "Further investments of $2.1 million are planned in the next 12 months."

Lack of water volume in Grandview is being blamed for the spread of a fire that destroyed a house on Cleveland Street on Saturday morning, and damaged five others. The authority did not release details on exactly how the new investments will address that low water volume.

Water tankers were called from Lincoln Borough, Monroeville and as far away as Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland County, as McKeesport firefighters and volunteers from several neighboring communities worked to bring the blaze under control.

 
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3 Local Racers Headed to World Soap Box Derby Finals

June 18, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News, Sports

(All photos: Vickie Babyak, special to Tube City Almanac)


Steamy temperatures and scorching pavement didn't faze entrants in the 2018 Greater Pittsburgh Soap Box Derby, held Sunday morning on Eden Park Boulevard in front of McKeesport Area High School.

The annual Father's Day tradition has been held for 36 consecutive years, but actually dates to the 1950s.

The top finishers in each category will be headed to the All-American Soap Box Derby World Championships, to be held in July in Akron, Ohio.

Photographer Vickie Babyak braved the heat to grab these images.

 
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4 Injured When Fire Sweeps Home; Lack of Water Hampered Efforts

June 18, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A sign urges passersby to help two families burned out of the home that once stood at 2615 Cleveland St. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)


Little remains of a house in the 2600 block of Cleveland Street that burned on Saturday morning --- sending four members of the Sostaric and Murphy families to the hospital.

A lack of water from local hydrants hampered efforts by McKeesport firefighters to fight the blaze, which spread to a neighboring home a few feet away, and got hot enough to melt the siding from three houses on the opposite side of the street.

Neighbors said it isn't the first time that a lack of water has hampered firefighting efforts on the street. One neighbor, who asked that his name not be printed, pointed to a vacant lot directly across from the home that burned to the ground Saturday.

"That house over there burned a few years ago," the neighbor said. "That vacant lot a few doors up? That was two houses that burned. Every time, same problem --- no water."

 
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Entrepreneur Eyes High-Tech Farm on RIDC Property

June 11, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Entrepreneur Juan Lacey is hoping some day to grow some of these same vegetables using aquaponics technology in McKeesport. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)


Urban farming in the Mon Valley isn't anything new --- but local businessman Juan Lacey isn't proposing an ordinary garden.

Lacey says he can grow produce and raise fish for 12 months out of the year at the RIDC Industrial Center of McKeesport using a technology called "aquaponics."

And if he can line up the financing --- if McKeesport is designated as an "opportunity zone" by the federal government --- Lacey says such a farm could be employing 16 or more people, producing fresh vegetables and fish for sale in supermarkets and use by restaurants within four to six months.

"Four acres can support 16 growing systems," Lacey says. "Each one of those creates 93,000 heads of lettuce per year, which is approximately 1.6 million heads of lettuce. That's a lot of product coming out."

James Rakocy, a retired researcher at the University of the Virgin Islands who is considered one of the fathers of aquaponics, says Lacey's goal isn't unattainable.

 
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Annual Fishing Derby Attracts Lake Emilie Crowd

June 10, 2018 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: News

(All photos: Vickie Babyak, special to Tube City Almanac)


McKeesport's annual fishing derby attracted a crowd to Lake Emilie in Renziehausen Park on Saturday morning, including the Brooks, Nowak and Jordan families from Port Vue, shown above.

Organized by the McKeesport Recreation Board, this year's event was sponsored in part by Mutt Jr. Bait Shop and Smallies on the Yough, said Jim Brown, city recreation director.

Prizes were given throughout the morning and a lunch of hot dogs, chips, drinks and cupcakes was served.

Above, showing off their prizes are winners for most fish Caiden Tagaloe and Christine Wampler, and the winners for biggest fish Michael Blackwell and Leonnah Nehila.

 
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As Paving Progresses, City Discusses Litter-Busting Campaign

June 10, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Above: Paving projects are underway throughout the city and will continue "until the asphalt plants close down," McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko said. Photo courtesy City of McKeesport, via Facebook)


While city workers and private contractors tackle long-awaited paving projects throughout McKeesport, officials are becoming concerned about the amount of trash littering those same streets.

"You can ride down a freshly paved street and see litter all over the sides of it," Councilman Jim Barry said last week. "As fast as you pick it up, it's back down again."

If McKeesport wants to improve its image, Barry said, then along with removing blighted houses and paving streets, "we need to do something about the litter in this city."

 
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Railroad Tower on Track for $23K Makeover

June 09, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photos special to Tube City Almanac)


One of McKeesport's neglected landmarks is on track for a $23,000 makeover.

Council has approved the use of part of the city's $1.075 million allocation of federal Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, funds to repair and restore the railroad crossing watchtower at the corner of Walnut and Sixth streets, Downtown.

The tower is the only one remaining of possibly 20 or more that once guarded the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad's tracks when they cut directly through the Downtown business district.

A.J. Tedesco, McKeesport community development director, said the tower was deemed worthy of historic preservation.

 
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Council OK's New Restaurant, Other Projects

June 06, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Three new commercial spaces --- including a new restaurant in the city's East End --- have been given the go-ahead by McKeesport City Council.

At Wednesday's meeting, council by 6-0 vote approved recommendations from the city planning commission to approve the new restaurant on East Fifth Avenue and a site plan for a new office building on Walnut Street in the Third Ward, as well as a request to consolidate several lots at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street, Downtown.

The identity of the new fast food restaurant's operator is a mystery.

 
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Family, Army Pursuing Handbag Makers Who Used Army Vet's Name, ID Number

June 06, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

The family of a McKeesport veteran whose name and U.S. Army service number are being used as decorations on a series of purses and handbags are considering legal action against the companies importing them.

Jennifer Sopko, granddaughter of Thomas Piotrowski Sr., 90, said her family has consulted an attorney specializing in intellectual property law and will decide what action to take.

Separately, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army in Arlington, Va., said government lawyers are investigating whether the use of the Army's trademarked name and seal, along with a veteran's service number, violated federal law.

 
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