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Lea’s Floral Shop to Re-Open After Fire

April 17, 2021 |

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

Delivery vans serve as floral coolers at the temporary location for Lea's Floral Shop on Chicora Street in East McKeesport. The store will set up temporarily at this building. The business was gutted April 10 by a fire that also displaced one resident. (Kristen Keleschenyi photo)

Monday will mark the reopening of Lea’s Floral Shop in East McKeesport, a little more than one week after a fire destroyed the majority of their inventory and two of their floral coolers.

Their building on Fifth Avenue will have to be gutted as they prepare to rebuild but luckily, they found the perfect spot, the East McKeesport Senior Citizen Community Center, just two blocks away, to serve as a temporary location.

“The Thursday before the fire they (East McKeesport Borough Council) decided not to rent this out because of COVID-19. You’re only allowed 45 people in here, everybody would have to be in masks and you have to police everything,” says Mary Lechliter-King, owner of Lea’s Floral Shop, who approached borough council members about the possibility of the building being their temporary storefront.

“The borough had a meeting and we offered them the rent. They get business privilege tax so we pay that too. It’s a win-win.”

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Library Slates Neighborhood Earth Day Cleanup

April 16, 2021 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

(Tube City Almanac file photo by Vickie Babyak)

Volunteers are needed for a neighborhood clean-up day in the city’s library and cultural district.

A spokeswoman for the Carnegie Library of McKeesport said volunteers should meet at 10 a.m. Saturday (April 17) at the parking lot of the library.

The activity is tied to Earth Day, which will be celebrated on April 22, and will be held outdoors. Social distancing rules will be in place and light refreshments will be served, the spokeswoman said.

For more information or to register, visit


Local Group Celebrates 110th Anniversary

April 14, 2021 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Marsha Watkiss of Jeannette, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, helps to clean a grave Long Run Cemetery in North Huntingdon. The McKeesport chapter, named for Queen Alliquippa, celebrated its 110th anniversary this past weekend. (Submitted photo)

Few organizations can celebrate more than a century of existence. Even fewer in Western Pennsylvania are comprised of people who can trace their lineage to the American Revolution.

On Saturday, members of the Queen Alliquippa Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution celebrated their 110th anniversary with a tea social.

Their special guest was Elizabeth Watkins, state leader — or “regent” in DAR parlance — who updated the local group about her efforts to restore a window at the Valley Forge Tower that honors Robert Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution, and one of Pennsylvania’s first U.S. senators.

Founded in 1890 and incorporated by an act of Congress in 1896, the DAR is an organization of women 18 years and older who can prove they are descendants of any “patriot” who supported the American Revolution.

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One Year Later, Show Goes On at MAHS

April 13, 2021 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Whether new to the cast, returning to the same roles they were ready to play in 2020, or in totally different roles this year, McKeesport Area High School students are in final rehearsals for “Disney’s The Little Mermaid.” (Submitted photo courtesy Carolyn Carreiro)

If you watch...


“Disney’s The Little Mermaid”

Where: Online at

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 29, Friday, April 30, and Saturday, May 1, with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on May 1. (Note: Performances must be watched when they’re being streamed. There will be no re-broadcast.)

Tickets: $20 per device

“Disney’s The Little Mermaid” was supposed to be the final spring musical for McKeesport Area High School producer Carolyn Carreiro back in 2020.

But then Covid-19 came along and changed her plans.
“Last year was supposed to be my last musical as producer,” she said. “With the pandemic, no one else was hired and I said I would step up one more time. This year was so different with the logistics of streaming the show, that it would have been a nightmare for a new producer to deal with.”

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District ‘Thankful’ for COVID-19 Relief Funds

April 13, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched resources in school districts across the nation, creating deficits in funding, access to education, and access to resources. For schools in the Mon Valley, however, there is some aid on the way.

State Rep. Austin Davis announced on March 30 that an estimated $41.1 million in federal funding has been allocated to districts across the Mon Valley to help them reopen safely and address learning losses as students and teachers return to classrooms.

The McKeesport Area School District will receive $16.9 million.

“We are thankful to have those funds,” said Mark Holtzman Jr., district superintendent. “I don’t know what we would’ve done without them.”

Other districts receiving funds include:

• Clairton City School District — $4.96 million
• Duquesne City School District — $4.81 million
• East Allegheny School District — $4.82 million
• South Allegheny School District — $3.4 million
• Steel Valley School District — $5 million
• West Mifflin Area School District — $5.95 million

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Residents Speak at First Meeting After Lawsuit

April 09, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Residents who challenged McKeesport city council’s decision to close its January meeting finally got a chance to speak their minds.

At Wednesday’s city council meeting, which was streamed over the Internet, eight people asked to enter comments into the official record. Four were from McKeesport. One of the others was Allegheny County Councilwoman Olivia Bennett.

Comments were received in writing from three of the four people, including former McKeesport Councilwoman V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery, Janina Riley and Courtney Thompkins, who sued McKeesport City Council after the Jan. 6 meeting was closed to the public.

All of the comments criticized police behavior during the Dec. 20 search for Koby Lee Francis, the 22-year-old suspect accused of shooting McKeesport police Officer Jerry Athans.

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County to Issue Mon Valley Air Quality Alerts

April 09, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

County health officials will begin issuing air-quality alerts targeted to the Mon Valley, beginning on Monday.

A spokeswoman for the Allegheny County Health Department said the alerts will tell residents when weather forecasts have the potential for poor air quality.

The alerts will be sent out using email, text messages and phone calls. To receive the alerts, visit and sign up for “Mon Valley Air Pollution Episode” notifications.

The move comes in the wake of several recent cases when air quality measured at the Liberty Borough monitor dropped below federal standards.

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Some Still Reluctant to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

April 08, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Rev. Earlene Coleman, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, speaks to members of the media Wednesday. Also shown are Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, state Sen. Jim Brewster, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Allegheny County Health Department Director Debra Bogen. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)

The COVID-19 vaccine shortages and website crashes that frustrated Pennsylvania residents in January and February are not likely to be repeated, Gov. Tom Wolf said in McKeesport on Wednesday.

Joined by city, county and state elected officials, Wolf visited the city to tour a vaccination clinic set up in the fellowship hall of Bethlehem Baptist Church on Walnut Street, Downtown.

“By the second week in May, we should have reached the point where at least one dose will have reached everybody who wants the shot,” Wolf said.

The biggest issue is the number of people who remain reluctant to be vaccinated, he said — which is where churches like Bethlehem Baptist can help.

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Bank Donates Former Downtown Office

April 07, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Accepting this year’s $100,000 payment toward the city’s neighborhood assistance program are Melissa Ernst, secretary of the McKeesport redevelopment authority; city Councilman Jim Barry; A.J. Tedesco, community development director and executive director of the redevelopment authority; McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko; Evan Zuverink, community reinvestment act officer for First Commonwealth Bank; Scott Vidovich, market leader for First Commonwealth Bank; Kristen Lupari, White Oak branch manager; Paul Sturgess, member of the redevelopment authority; and Stu Wilson, president of the redevelopment authority. (Submitted photo)

First Commonwealth Bank has donated its former Downtown location to the city’s redevelopment authority.

Jonathan Longwill, vice president and media relations specialist for the Indiana, Pa., based bank, said the building at 225 Fifth Ave. has been donated to facilitate ongoing redevelopment work in McKeesport’s central business district.

The bank is also participating in McKeesport’s six-year, $2.7 million neighborhood assistance program to remove blight and renovate homes, and recently presented the city with its $100,000 annual installment.

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Centennial School Will Welcome Residents Soon

April 05, 2021 |

By Jennifer Sopko | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Editor’s Note: The writer has a conflict of interest. Branden Kucich is the writer’s second cousin. This article was written after initial interviews with Branden and Heather Kucich in April 2018 and follow-ups in March and April 2021 once the Centennial School project broke ground.

The former Centennial School opened for the 1921-22 term at the corner of Beaver Street and Union Avenue. The building is being turned into senior citizen apartments. (Submitted photo courtesy Kucich Construction)

Nearly a century after the new Centennial School in McKeesport opened its doors to local students in the fall of 1921, the historic building will soon welcome a new class of seniors.

Branden Kucich, 38, and his wife Heather, 37, of North Huntingdon Twp., have added to their growing portfolio of rental properties in McKeesport and White Oak by purchasing the defunct elementary school and transforming its empty classrooms into senior living apartments.

The Kuciches’ project will not only return a longtime tax-exempt property to the city’s tax rolls but also add to a recent trend of building restorations in McKeesport.

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