Pa. School Funding Trial Enters Fourth Week

December 12, 2021 |

By Emily Scott © Public News Service | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Pennsylvania’s school funding trial will enter its fourth week in Commonwealth Court on Monday.

Testimony so far has provided an inside view into the difficult decisions faced by educators in the state’s low-wealth districts with minimal resources.

In 2014, six Pennsylvania school districts—William Penn, Greater Johnstown, Lancaster, Panther Valley, Shenandoah Valley and Wilkes-Barre Area—sued state legislative officials, state education officials and Gov. Tom Wolf, alleging that the state’s school funding system violates the clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution that promises to provide a “thorough and efficient” system of public education.

The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, the NAACP-Pennsylvania State Conference and a group of public school parents are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

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RAD OK’s Renzie Improvements for 2022

December 09, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport will receive more than $1 million in 2022 from the Allegheny Regional Asset District for improvements to Renziehausen Park as well as operating funds.

The $118 million RAD budget approved last week includes $783,525 in operating funds as well as $250,000 in capital funding for bleacher improvements, extensions to the walking trail, new exercise equipment, and upgrades to the Lions Bandshell and the dek-hockey court.

“We got what we believe is our full amount (requested),” said McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko. “We’re very grateful for RAD and if the media prints anything, I hope they print that.”

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City Council OK’s 2022 Budget, No Tax Increase

December 08, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Download the 2022 city budget (PDF reader required)

McKeesport’s 2022 budget will not include a tax increase as the city continues to focus on retaining residents, demolishing vacant buildings and encouraging business development.

“We must rebuild our tax base, improve our neighborhoods and encourage home ownership — all while continuing to find creative ways to provide the services that McKeesport residents deserve,” Mayor Michael Cherepko told council this month while delivering his budget message.

Council by 7-0 vote approved the $25.8 million spending plan, which is about $3.8 million more than this year’s budget.

Next year’s budget incorporates funds from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan as well as $4 million from the McKeesport Rising project — the proceeds from the 2017 sale of McKeesport sewerage authority.

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Family of Slain Teen Raising Money for Funeral

December 02, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Kai Brown is shown accepting his high school diploma from then-Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent Anthony Hamlet on June 12, 2021. Brown, 19, died Nov. 19 after being stabbed in McKeesport. (Family photo via GoFundMe)

The family of a 19-year-old who died after being stabbed at Midtown Plaza Apartments is raising money on GoFundMe to pay for his funeral.

Kai Adonis Brown will be laid to rest Dec. 10 in his native Chicago.

That’s the same day that the teen-ager charged in connection with his death, Damian Baverso, 15, of East McKeesport is scheduled to face a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Kim Berkeley Clark.

Baverso is charged as an adult by Allegheny County police with criminal homicide and making terroristic threats.

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Christmas in the Air as Festival of Trees Opens

December 02, 2021 |

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

Volunteers were making last-minute adjustments to their trees on Wednesday afternoon at Jacob Woll Pavilion in Renziehausen Park. McKeesport’s 36th annual Festival of Trees continues through Monday. Hours are 12 noon to 9 p.m. (Tube City Almanac photo)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Jacob Woll Pavilion in Renziehausen Park with the opening of McKeesport’s 36th annual Festival of Trees.

Doors will be open daily, through Monday, from 12 noon to 9 p.m.

The official opening tonight will include the arrival of Santa Claus on a McKeesport fire truck at 6:15 p.m., plus a tree-lighting ceremony featuring the Salute to Santa Parade 2021 Princess Saniya Rivers of the LaRosa Youth Club and Queen Kaitlyn Majewski of McKeesport Little Theater.

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Garden Club Celebrates Season With Sale

November 30, 2021 |

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

The Garden Club of McKeesport will welcome visitors — and potential members — during its annual Holiday Sale this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the club house, next to the Rose Garden at Renziehausen Park. The hours overlap part of McKeesport’s annual Festival of Trees, which opens Thursday at the nearby Jacob Woll Pavilion.

“We have live wreaths, swags, kissing balls and a lot of Christmas crafts that the members make,” says club member Cindy Medved of White Oak. “There will be dried flowers and a bake sale as well.”

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Mayor to Present Budget, Demo Remains Focus

November 30, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Buildings at 907 and 911 Fifth Ave., Downtown, were demolished in November with the help of funds from the Commonwealth Financing Authority, and the vacant furniture store at 903 Fifth Ave. is also scheduled to be torn down. Demolition of abandoned buildings will remain a focus on 2022, city officials said. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Demolition of vacant buildings, stabilization of residential neighborhoods and attracting new business development will remain key focuses of McKeesport’s mayor in 2022.

City council will hold a budget hearing at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Public Safety Building, 201 Lysle Blvd. at Market Street. Council is expected to vote on the budget at 7 p.m.

By law, the city is required to have a balanced budget.

Earlier this month, Mayor Michael Cherepko said some of the programs that the city wants to launch in 2022 — such a program to help homeowners get their roofs replaced — may be ambitious, but he’s optimistic they can be funded.

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Model Railroad Club Builds Vintage Mon Valley

November 29, 2021 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

Scaled-down structure at the McKeesport Model Railroad Club was inspired by the city’s Jerome Avenue Bridge. The club is holding its annual open house Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 19. (Sarah Turnbull photo for Tube City Almanac)

Bob Balawajder of the McKeesport Model Railroad Club remembers when trains would pass through downtown McKeesport every day.

“I’ve been part of the club for 38 years. I’ve always been interested in trains. I used to go shopping downtown with my mother and we would watch the trains go by,” Balawajder said.

The club, located at 2209 Walnut St., kicked off its Holiday Open House Nov. 27. The open house features a 2,200-square-foot layout depicting the Mon Valley in the mid-20th century. Hours are 1 to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 19.

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Downtown CVS Closes With Little Warning

November 24, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Updated with comment from CVS.

(Tube City Almanac photo)

Arrivals at Saturday’s “Salute to Santa” parade who thought they might stop at the CVS Pharmacy on Fifth Avenue for a beverage or a snack got a lump of coal instead.

CVS “made the difficult business decision to close the CVS Pharmacy store located at 311 Fifth Ave. in McKeesport on Nov. 11,” said Matt Blanchette, a spokesman at the company’s headquarters in Woonsocket, R.I.

“We understand the disappointment of our closing store’s neighbors and customers,” he said. “The closure of this store is not a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our employees,” and all employees were offered “comparable roles” at other CVS locations, Blanchette said.

Last week, CVS announced plans to close up to 900 stores over the next three years.

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Bill Would Address School Barriers for At-Risk Kids

November 23, 2021 |

By Emily Scott © Public News Service | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A bill making its way through the Pennsylvania General Assembly would help ensure a smooth transition to graduation for young people who face personal challenges outside of school.

Senate Bill 324 would help address barriers to graduation for kids experiencing homelessness or who are in the foster-care or juvenile-justice systems.

The bill creates a point of contact at the student’s school to help support them as they return to the classroom after time away from the education system.

Young people in foster care “face many barriers,” said John Lydon, chief executive officer of McKeesport-based Auberle, which works with at-risk youth and their families.

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