#BLM: 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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County: All Eight Air Monitors in Compliance

February 01, 2021 |

By Denise L. Ritter | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

For the first time in history, the air quality at all eight of the Allegheny County Health Department’s monitors has met federal standards.

Officials last week announced that the county has met federal air-quality standards for carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone and small particles of soot and other contaminants.

“This achievement comes after years of hard work by the health department, federal and state agencies and local industry to clean up the air in Allegheny County,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, health department director. “But we have more work to do, and the health department is committed to ensuring everyone in Allegheny County has clean air to breathe.”

The health department has eight air-quality monitors, including three in the Mon-Yough area at Liberty Borough, Clairton and North Braddock, as well as locations in Avalon, Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, South Fayette and Harrison townships and along the Parkway East.

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Teacher’s Former Students Do One More Project

January 15, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Diane Pazuchanics shows off a recent gift sent by a former student. (Submitted photo via Facebook)

Long-time McKeesport Area art teacher and mentor Diane Pazuchanics is seeing the inspiration she fostered in others being returned to her. Through “The Angel Project,” a network of students, colleagues, friends and even strangers, are using art to show their gratitude toward her.

Pazuchanics, known as Mrs. Paz to her students, has taught at McKeesport Area High School for 27 years as an art teacher, providing students with creative inspiration. Due to a weakened immune system and other health complications, Mrs. Paz has been on sick leave this school year.

Danielle Pazuchanics, her daughter, recently posted a video to Facebook in which her mother shared a wish for a “final lesson plan”: to compile a book of watercolor paintings. Paz also created a Facebook group, The Angel Project, for colleagues to share well wishes.

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Executive Bldg. Coming Back to Life

January 13, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Condemned signs have been removed from the Executive Building, Downtown, whose new owner, Jonathan Stark, has four potential tenants ready for the first floor. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Although the “Condemned” notices were recently removed from the doors of the Executive Building on Fifth Avenue, don’t expect to see a movie at the Quad Cinemas in the basement any time soon.

The seats and projection equipment are long gone, but the four auditoriums are still there, and they’re still plagued by the same problem that forced the theaters to close in 1980 — they’re prone to flooding.

“They’re more than 20 feet below street level,” said Jonathan Stark, who purchased the building in April 2020.

While the old theater spaces are likely to stay vacant, four tenants have signed letters of intent for the storefronts along Fifth Avenue, Stark said.

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Downtown Park-Ride Lot to Close for Upgrades

January 13, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The Downtown park-and-ride lot will be closed through the end of the year while Port Authority of Allegheny County makes improvements to the facility. (Tube City Almanac photo)

The McKeesport Transportation Center will close Saturday for the remainder of the year as Allegheny County’s transit agency begins the second phase of improvements to the facility.

A spokesperson for Port Authority of Allegheny County said the work will include four new bus shelters with benches, 19 additional parking spaces, two bus ticket vending machines and improved access for bicycle riders who want to use the Great Allegheny Passage trail.

In addition, a restroom building will be constructed for bus drivers and the sewerage system at the site will be improved to accommodate more rainwater runoff through use of an underground retention tank.

The cost of the improvements is $3.4 million.

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Sanders to Team: ‘Mistakes Are Very, Very Costly’

January 11, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Corry Sanders speaks to members of the McKeesport Tigers men’s varsity basketball team. The longtime barbershop owner now works for the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office and for Pittsburgh’s Center for Victims. (Mike Manko photo, special to Tube City Almanac)

Corry Sanders went to the McKeesport Senior High School gymnasium last week with a simple message for the men’s varsity basketball team.

“Mistakes are very, very costly nowadays,” Sanders told about 20 members of the squad on Thursday night. “You might not be blessed with an opportunity to choose again.

“This is not a ‘Call of Duty’ game on Xbox, where you get a reset button,” he said.

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Questions Raised After Meeting Closed to Public

January 06, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A former McKeesport city councilwoman is encouraging supporters to call officials and voice their displeasure after Wednesday’s council meeting was closed to the public.

In a video posted to Facebook Live, Fawn Walker-Montgomery, co-founder of Take Action Mon Valley and a candidate for state representative in 2018, said Wednesday night she planned to file a complaint against the city for allegedly violating the state’s Open Meetings Law, commonly called the “Sunshine Act.”

“There are so many violations that are happening here right now,” Walker-Montgomery said.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said the decision to close the meeting was made due to the sharply increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the region.

“This is only going to happen for a couple of months,” he said. “We’re hoping no more than two or three meetings before we’re in the clear.”

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