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Parent Laments Online Learning Shortfalls

March 05, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Tiffany Wampler’s children are some of many in the McKeesport Area School District attending school virtually. Their father is considered high-risk for COVID-19, so attending school in person is not an option. However, they’re struggling with the district's online learning platform.

At February’s school board meeting, Wampler told directors about her eldest daughter, an eighth-grader at Founders Hall Middle School. Prior to virtual learning, she was an NHS student with consistently high grades. However, she has been struggling with the online program, and her grades have dropped significantly.

“I get letters from the school stating my children are possibly failing, which I don’t even understand because they sit in front of me from 8 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon,” Wampler told the school board. “This program is not working.”

 
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Council Meeting Postponed, Judge Urges Solution

March 04, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

An Allegheny County judge on Wednesday directed McKeesport officials to find a way to allow the public to fully participate in city council meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a hearing held over video-conferencing, Judge Jack McVay Jr. ordered the city to postpone the council meeting scheduled for that evening, and present him with a plan to prevent future violations of the state’s Open Meetings Law.

“You can have a meeting as soon as you implement what was proposed,” McVay said.

On Tuesday, four residents, including former councilwoman Fawn Walker Montgomery, sought an emergency injunction against the city for its plans to close Wednesday’s meeting to the public, and filed a lawsuit accusing the city of violating the Open Meetings Law as well as the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

 
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City Sued Over Closed Council Meetings

March 02, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport officials will allow tomorrow’s city council meeting to be streamed live to the public.

The decision comes after four McKeesport residents sued the city and council for closing the Jan. 6 meeting. City officials had cited the need for COVID-19 safety, and announced plans to close this month’s meeting as well.

On Tuesday, V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery, Courtney Thompkins, Tracey Jordan and Janina Riley filed a lawsuit asking an Allegheny County judge to issue an emergency injunction requiring in-person or electronic access to this month’s meeting, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the public safety building, 201 Lysle Blvd.

The lawsuit and request for an injunction was filed on their behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh law firm of Saul, Ewing, Arnstein & Lehr.

 
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Fire Marshal Investigating Soles St. Blaze

March 01, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The Allegheny County fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of a blaze that damaged a Soles Street home on Saturday morning.

McKeesport deputy fire Chief Jeff List said city police were dispatched to the house in the 600 block just before 8:30 a.m. for what was originally reported as a “home invasion.”

When police officers arrived, they determined there was no crime in progress, but there was a fire on the second floor. One male resident was home when the fire broke out but escaped safely, List said.

 
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#BHM: Child Care Center Enters 21st Year

February 28, 2021 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Editor’s Note: During the final week of Black History Month 2021, Vickie Babyak is taking a look at some local community leaders and entrepreneurs.

Employees and children at A Developmental Journey Christian Childcare enjoy an after-school game of bingo. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)


Anica Jones-Paige will celebrate a milestone soon: A Developmental Journey Christian Childcare, the group site she founded and owns, will mark its 21st year in business in June.

That means she’ll soon be serving a second generation of children and their families in McKeesport.

Jones-Paige started with family care, then moved into center care, and presently provides group site care. ADJ is at full enrollment with 12 children, and some of them have been with the center since they were infants.

In the past, Ms. Paige’s child care center included infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school age children. More recently, her facility is limited to school age children.

 
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#BHM: Business Owner Says World Needs Healing

February 28, 2021 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Editor’s Note: During the final week of Black History Month 2021, Vickie Babyak is taking a look at some local community leaders and entrepreneurs.

Kellee Turner, owner of Soulll Connections displays her holistic products at home. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)


The word holistic was introduced in the 1970s. It gained popularity as a catchphrase for providing personalized treatment of a person’s psyche and soul as well as body.

Kellee Turner is the owner of Soulll Connections and believes the world needs an enormous amount of healing. She uses a holistic approach to bring love and balance into people’s lives. Her slogan is, “Help me, help you, balance you! Changing energy, one soul at a time.”

During the COVID-19 quarantine, Turner realized she needed a change. She worked two jobs, had two school age children and a baby. Turner said her baby was the inspiration. She wrote down a list of goals and decided to start her business, which she called Soulll Connections.

 
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#BHM: Local Artist Balances Work, Family

February 23, 2021 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Editor’s Note: During the final week of Black History Month 2021, Vickie Babyak is taking a look at some local community leaders and entrepreneurs.

Emmau Crosby holding up two of her hand-crafted, custom ordered trays. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)


Emmau Crosby is a McKeesport business owner, a mom, an artist, entrepreneur and the CEO of Sour Puff Girls LLC. “I love my diverse roles and consider it a win-win situation, even though everything is a balancing act,” Crosby says.

Crosby finds herself extremely busy with three children, ages 10, 6 and 8 months old. She manages her home, creates art, and markets her merchandise at trade shows.

“Other women have told me that I’m an inspiration,” says Crosby. “It gives me a sense of pride to know I can encourage others.” She stays focused and her motto is “Powerful Women with High Standards.”

 
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#BHM: TAMV Fights Violence at Every Level

February 22, 2021 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Editor’s Note: During the final week of Black History Month 2021, Vickie Babyak is taking a look at some local community leaders and entrepreneurs.

Fawn Walker Montgomery working from her home office. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)


Take Action Mon Valley (TAMV) is a nonprofit organization located in McKeesport, and its mission is to combat all forms of community violence, activism and organizing. The nonprofit was originated in 2014.

“My cousin’s son, Carlos Hudson Jr. was murdered,” said Fawn Walker Montgomery, Co-Founder and Executive Director of TAMV. “He wasn’t the first or last relative I’ve lost to violence, so my cousin, Mae Herriott Hudson, and I decided to do something about solving homicides in our community. Since then, we have developed into a social justice organization that reaches out to surrounding communities.”

Montgomery takes complaints on violence throughout Allegheny County and focuses on generating solutions for local communities. Any individual, organization or group can make a complaint.

 
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Growing Agape Center Looks at W.O. School

February 14, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The McKeesport Agape Center may relocate to the former White Oak Elementary School on California Avenue, which closed in 2014. (Tube City Almanac photo)


In 2019, Kelly and Mike Doyle began providing food delivery services to neighbors they knew needed aid. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March of 2020, demand from food insecure community members skyrocketed. Thus, the McKeesport Agape Center was born.

As the center’s services continue to grow, so does their need for a large enough space to operate out of. One building that the Doyles are looking to purchase is the former White Oak Elementary School, which the McKeesport Area School District has confirmed is a possibility.

“The important thing to get across is that people that need food the most often don’t have vehicles to get to food banks. It’s important to have people to drive food to them,” said Kelly Doyle, who along with her husband, Mike, owns “Doyle Mails It,” the White Oak contract post office. “We really want to help our neighbors in need, and eradicate the food desert in the McKeesport area.”

 
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Board Thanks MASD Students, Teachers

February 01, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Gratitude was the theme of the McKeesport Area School District Board’s January meeting.

Joseph Lopretto, board president, commended the work of students, teachers and administrators during the 2020-21 school year, saying the “school year has been a challenge for everybody. I compliment our administrators for doing what they do to keep it going, and we can only hope and pray we get through the school year.”

Mark Holtzman, superintendent, then praised the ways in which the district has been able to succeed during the pandemic, as well as thanking the all-volunteer school board.

“We’re giving [the students] the best possible education that we can under our current circumstances, and we are trying our best to think of new, creative ways to engage our students online,” said Holtzman. “We are very lucky to be leaders in the McKeesport Area School District and will remain as long as they have us. We truly believe in our school system.”

 
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