Pandemic Puts City’s Summer Plans on Hold

May 09, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The worldwide coronavirus pandemic means the city will likely not have a normal International Village this August, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko is warning. (Tube City Almanac file photo/Denise L. Ritter)

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko is “not ready to cancel events yet” but he and other city officials are acknowledging that the coronavirus pandemic is causing a lot of uncertainty in the spring and summer schedule.

“We offer so many highlights in this city that no one else can come close to,” Cherepko told council on Wednesday night. “The variety of things we do helps make McKeesport unique for a smaller city.”

Independence Day fireworks will take place on July 4, the mayor said, and there will be a Memorial Day ceremony on May 25, though it will likely be small.

But other summer events, such as the Sunday night concert series in Renziehausen Park, presented by the McKeesport Lions Club, and even the three-day International Village ethnic food festival held in mid-August, are still up in the air, Cherepko said.

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Virtual Tutoring Available for MAHS Students

May 08, 2020 |

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

A partnership between Penn State Greater Allegheny and McKeesport’s Healthy Village Learning Institute will provide tutoring sessions for McKeesport Area School District students in grades 10, 11 and 12 and personal development sessions for up to 40 parents.

Professional and peer tutors with the PSGA’s Gruskin Learning Center and Continuing Education Department will work with students to further develop their study skills, while offering virtual tutoring sessions in math, science, English, French and Spanish. Students can request virtual tutoring through PSGA's Gruskin Learning Center.

The “virtual” personal development programs for parents is designed to assist with understanding individual strengths, joys, needs, stressors, creating a positive work environment and “seeing yourself as others see you,” according to Victoria Garwood, spokesperson for PSGA.

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City Officials Eying COVID-19 Aid Warily

May 07, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport officials will have difficult choices to make in the months ahead as the coronavirus pandemic strains the city’s already-tight budget.

Following Wednesday’s city council meeting, Mayor Michael Cherepko said that although federal officials have promised relief for municipalities with pandemic-related expenses, the aid packages in most cases don’t cover wages and salaries.

“We’re all dealing with COVID-19 and the impact it’s having, but I’m very concerned about the economy and I’m very concerned about the deficits we’re already seeing,” Cherepko said.

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Rainbow Kitchen Still Serving, Despite Pandemic

May 06, 2020 |

By Nick Zurawsky | Posted in: Duquesne News, McKeesport and Region News

Rainbow Kitchen is falling into a comfortable routine, despite the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Executive Director Donna Little.

The iconic Homestead community food service was affected on all fronts by the quarantine measures put into effect after the national emergency declaration on March 13.

Almost every aspect of Rainbow Kitchen’s operation has changed. For example, it went from serving people daily in their cafeteria to packaging and handing out meals from the curbside.

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Effort By W.O. Family is Feeding Hundreds

May 05, 2020 |

By Jason A. Mignanelli | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, White Oak News

(Submitted photo)

Kelly and Mike Doyle never could have imagined that they would be feeding 100 different families when they started a small community Facebook page called, “What’s Happening in White Oak & Surrounding Areas.

The Doyles live in White Oak with their five children, where they also own and operate the privately held White Oak Post Office.

“We are just a normal middle-class family,” Kelly Doyle said.

About six years ago, Kelly started the “What’s Happening in White Oak & Surrounding Areas” Facebook page, hoping to keep the community up-to-date on current events.

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Residents Seek Answers on Jobs, COVID-19 Testing

May 04, 2020 |

By Emily Pidgeon | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Residents of Allegheny County want to know about coronavirus testing, and during a recent telephone town hall with local elected officials, they made that known in a big way.

During the April 22 phone call, organized by the Pittsburgh Black Elected Officials Coalition, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, Democrat of Forest Hills, said legislators wanted residents to be able to ask questions about “unemployment, COVID-19 testing, funding, stimulus payments and other pandemic-related issues.”

Testing quickly topped the list of questions. Callers asked Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, about a lack of testing in local communities — specifically in predominantly Black neighborhoods in the East End and Mon Valley.

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MASD Expects Property Tax Increase for ’20-’21

May 04, 2020 |

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

On April 21, McKeesport Area School District administrators distributed electronic devices to students and parents so that they could do schoolwork from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Above, Joan Wehmer, district business manager, and below, Mark Holtzman Jr., district superintendent. (Both photos: Richard Finch Jr. for Tube City Almanac)

School board members in McKeesport Area School District expect to be considering a property tax increase for the 2020-21 academic year.

At April’s board meeting, Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. told school directors that the administration is working on a preliminary budget to determine “what the deficit is, and how we can manage that based on our current fund balance and expenses.”

Some of the expenses were predictable, including debt service, increases in pension costs and tuition for charter school students, Holtzman said, but others are related to the COVID-19 crisis that forced schools statewide to cancel all in-person classes on March 13.

Holtzman said the district is “still working on trying to (keep) the numbers down.”

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City Marina Reopens, With Precautions

May 04, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The docks are in and McKees Point Marina is welcoming boaters again, but with social-distancing restrictions in place. (Tube City Almanac photo)

In a small sign of normality returning amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the McKees Point Marina opened for the season on May 1.

“We’re ready to go — we’re excited for another boating season, for the boaters especially,” McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “We’re just hoping everyone can enjoy their boating season.”

But the mayor cautioned there will likely be changes to other city activities, including the summer concert series and McKeesport’s premier annual event, the three-day International Village ethnic food and music festival, which is set to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

Along with golf courses, privately operated campgrounds and guided fishing trips, marinas were among the outdoor facilities that Pennsylvania officials last week said could resume operations.

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S.A. Wants to Provide ‘Equal Playing Field’

April 29, 2020 |

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

Related stories:

School Districts Adapting To ‘New Normal,’ With Virtual Learning Challenges

At Serra High, COVID-19 Means ‘Chrome from Home’

Clairton Adapts With Help from Community

Lisa Duval is “incredibly proud” of teachers and staff in South Allegheny School District.

Duval, the school superintendent, said South Allegheny is not a so-called “1:1” district that already provides a laptop or tablet for every student. That created challenges during the district’s transition to distance learning.

South Allegheny serves more than 1,500 students in kindergarten through 12th grade in Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln and Port Vue.

On March 30, South Allegheny began a review process to determine which students had access to electronic devices and Internet service at home, and which did not.

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Clairton Schools Thankful for Community’s Help

April 29, 2020 |

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

Related stories:

School Districts Adapting To ‘New Normal,’ With Virtual Learning Challenges

At Serra High, COVID-19 Means ‘Chrome from Home’

South Allegheny Wants to Provide Equal Playing Field

When Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all schools to shut down and move to online learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, Clairton City School District did not have funding to provide electronic devices to all students.

About 90 percent of nearly 800 students in the district are economically disadvantaged.

So on April 2, Clairton School Superintendent Ginny Hunt and other district officials launched the “Clairton Supplemental Education Fund,” seeking donations to procure more laptops and Internet access.

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