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Local Legislators Split on COVID-19 Vote

September 23, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Local legislators split Wednesday on an effort to overrule Pennsylvania’s governor and allow school districts to decide whether to permit spectators at athletic events during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday vetoed House Bill 2787, which would have allowed local school boards to sidestep the state Health Department and set their own COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

On Wednesday, the state General Assembly voted 130-71 to override Wolf’s veto. The move fell five votes short of the two-thirds majority necessary.

While state Rep. Austin Davis, McKeesport Democrat, called the attempt to override Wolf’s veto “a waste of taxpayer money,” state Rep. Bill Kortz, Dravosburg Democrat, said it was “extremely disappointing” that the vote failed.

 
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Local Residents Hold Clean Air Rally Online

September 23, 2020 |

By Kevin Kino | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

In a photo titled “Edgar Thomson Looms,” U.S. Steel’s plant in Braddock and North Braddock is visible above rooftops of nearby houses. (Photo by Macwagen/Strongbox Magazine. Licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Lisa Graves-Marcucci calls it a “pollution parfait,” and she says it’s just as unappetizing as it sounds.

That’s how the lifelong Mon Valley resident describes the sky some mornings in Jefferson Hills.

“When I would drive over to take (my kids) to the elementary school, which sits right on the hilltop overlooking the Clairton Coke Works, certain summer mornings, you could see this ‘pollution parfait,’” says Graves-Marcucci, who serves as Pennsylvania community outreach coordinator for the non-profit Environmental Integrity Project. “There would be like, lines of different colors of pollution in the sky.”

Graves-Marcucci was one of the people who participated last week in a county-wide campaign for cleaner air.

 
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County To Open Additional Elections Offices

September 21, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, Politics & Elections

(Tube City Almanac file photo)


Allegheny County will open additional elections offices in October so that voters who want to return paper ballots in person may do so safely.

Although the county plans to have more than 1,300 polling places open for the Nov. 3 election, officials expect heavier than usual use of vote-by-mail and absentee ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county board of elections last week unanimously approved a proposal in which the Elections Division will open additional offices on specific dates and times.

Each office will provide opportunity for voters to provide over-the-counter voting, and the return of voted ballots to a fully-staffed, secure office, a county spokeswoman said.

 
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Comcast Gift Helps Level Playing Field for Students

September 21, 2020 |

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

A truckload of computers donated by Comcast is unveiled Friday morning during a live broadcast of NBC’s “Today” from McKeesport Area High School. (Richard Finch Jr. photo for Tube City Almanac)


Students, parents and staff were speculating about the news cameras — and a large truck parked in the middle of McKeesport Area High School’s football field on Friday morning when they entered the stadium for what they thought was a pep rally.

What they got instead were 2,500 laptop computers for students and staff at McKeesport Senior High School and Founders’ Hall Middle School — a donation from Comcast Corp., the region’s dominant cable TV and Internet provider.

The “Today” show, a production of NBC, a Comcast subsidiary, was on hand to show the surprised students.

 
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EA Student Tests Positive for COVID-19

September 16, 2020 |

By Kristen Keleschenyi | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, North Versailles Twp. News

A student-athlete at East Allegheny High School tested positive over the weekend for COVID-19, school officials said.

The student is a member of the girls’ volleyball team and the cheerleading squad. Both activities have been suspended for 14 days, the district said.

Superintendent Alan Johnson told the East Allegheny School Board that all health and safety protocols are being followed. Contact has been made with all the families involved to make them aware of the situation, he said.

Because the district is operating in virtual mode, no classrooms or office spaces have been compromised, Johnson said.

 
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‘Murf the Surf,’ One-Time City Resident
Turned Celebrity Thief, is Dead

September 15, 2020 |

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

Jack Roland Murphy, better known as “Murf the Surf,” is shown here during a 2016 interview on the Christian Television Network program, “Homekeepers.” Murphy died Saturday in Florida at age 83. (Screenshot via YouTube)


One of McKeesport’s most notorious former residents — Jack Roland Murphy — has died in Florida at age 83.

Known as “Murf the Surf,” Murphy was born in California but lived in the city as a teen-ager and was a stand-out athlete and musician at McKeesport High School.

But it was after leaving Western Pennsylvania that Murphy achieved international infamy as a jewel thief — and murderer.

After spending 19 years in a Florida prison, Murphy was paroled and launched a ministry to jails and prisoners, becoming a frequent guest on Christian radio and television shows. He was the subject of a lengthy profile in Sports Illustrated this past May.

 
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Living History Tour Brings City’s Past to Life

September 15, 2020 |

By Kristen Keleschenyi | Posted in: Entertainment, McKeesport and Region News

“We are an odd lot. Old and young, men and women, heroes and derelicts, rich and poor, all once living souls,” says Anna Marie Colecchi as “The Widow” during McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center’s Living History Tour on Sunday. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)


There are 44,000 people buried in McKeesport & Versailles Cemetery, which was dedicated in 1855. On Saturday and Sunday, a handful of their stories were brought to life by local actors during McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center’s sixth-annual Living History Tour.

Visitors were greeted by Anna Marie Colecchi playing “the widow,” who laid the framework for the list of characters on the tour.

Groups of people ranging in size from three to 15 walked along paths and around tombstones to hear the tales of this year’s cast.

They represented a wide range of notable McKeesporters, including Laura Painter, widow of People’s Bank President Robert Painter, who was blackmailed in an effort to get part of the fortune he left behind; U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Thomas Sweeney, one of the “McKeesport 23” who died during the Vietnam War; and George McClure, general store owner, who was shot in what is now known as Dead Man’s Hollow when he tried to stop a robbery.

 
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COVID-19 Test Site Ready in City’s Industrial Park

September 14, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Sgt. Robert Fitzgerald of the 128th Brigade Support Battalion, Pennsylvania Army National Guard, explains the use of a COVID-19 test swab on Monday in McKeesport. (Tube City Almanac photo)


A new drive-through COVID-19 test site located at the Industrial Center of McKeesport is expected to remain operational for 45 to 60 days, but could stay open longer if necessary.

“This pandemic changes constantly and the planning changes constantly,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.

Allegheny County and state officials offered a tour of the site on Monday morning. The site opens to the public at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Health officials are hopeful that within a few months, most doctors’ offices will be able to offer COVID-19 tests, Bogen said, so for now, the McKeesport site is the only drive-through facility planned in Allegheny County.

Up to 250 people per day can be tested at the site, located just off of Lysle Boulevard, officials said. Samples will be taken by courier daily to a state lab in Harrisburg, they said, and results of most tests will be available in 48 hours or less.

 
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Drive-Through COVID-19 Test Site Opens Tuesday

September 11, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

Beginning Monday, appointments can be made at a new drive-up COVID-19 testing site scheduled to open in the city.

Persons with valid email addresses will be able to schedule their appointment by going to the county’s website, a county spokeswoman said.

People without email access may call (412) 209-2262 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday) to schedule a next-day appointment.

The testing center is being created inside a vacant portion of the Industrial Center of McKeesport, along Industry Road, near the building once occupied by EchoStar. It is scheduled to begin operations at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

 
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Serra Suspends In-Person Classes
After Two COVID-19 Cases

September 11, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Serra Catholic High School moved all students to online learning Friday and suspended sports activities through the weekend after two students tested positive for COVID-19.

An announcement from the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said the move was made “out of an abundance of caution” and that neither student was experiencing symptoms of the disease, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The school in Haler Heights is expected to remain closed through Monday, the diocese said.

The announcement came as state officials reported more than a thousand new cases of coronavirus across Pennsylvania. State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said many of the new cases are among college students who have returned to campuses.

 
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