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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MASD Plans for Return of Regular Events

April 01, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

In spite of climbing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the region, McKeesport Area School District officials are hoping to ensure that major spring events — including prom and commencement — will occur this year, if possible.

At the school board meeting, district officials discussed plans for remainder of the year and began looking ahead to fall.

Board President Joseph Lopretto and District Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. said they are keeping an eye on virus cases, and will move forward with plans as possible.

Prom and commencement were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

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Local Legislators Urge Busway, Highway Investment

March 30, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The Martin Luther King East Busway connects Pittsburgh to Rankin and Swissvale. Local lawmakers are urging the federal government to include funds for extending the busway in the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan, to be announced Wednesday in Pittsburgh. (National Association of City Transportation Officials photo via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC 2.0)

Ahead of President Biden’s visit to the Pittsburgh area to talk about infrastructure investment, area legislators are asking the federal government to make sure the Mon Valley is included.

According to published reports, Biden on Wednesday is expected to unveil a $3 trillion proposal to invest in roads, bridges, public transit, railroads and waterways, as well as the country’s electrical grid and other utilities.

The speech will be made at the Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center in Collier Twp. and representatives of other Pittsburgh-area labor unions are expected to attend as well.

Last week, Mon-Yough area state legislators wrote to Pennsylvania’s federal congressional delegation, urging them to include funding for high-priority projects such as the extension of the East Busway and the completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway.

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Panelists: Black Women Not Getting
Enough Mental Health Support

March 25, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Johnathan White, assistant teaching professor at Greater Allegheny, moderated a panel discussion that also featured Kathi R. Elliot, chief executive officer at Gwen’s Girls; Dashawna J. Fussell-Ware, doctoral fellow, Steel Smiling; Raven Davis, supervisor, Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth & Families; and Dr. Stella Onuoha-Obilor, vice president for clinical quality, Highmark Health. (Photo courtesy Penn State)

At both the community and the national level, developing a deeper understanding of social, economic and political factors that create gaps in mental health care is imperative in caring for patients.

This was the overarching message of March 18’s Crossing Bridges Summit panel, which discussed the psychological perspectives on Black women’s health.

The panel, hosted by Penn State Greater Allegheny, featured a conversation between five Black female leaders in mental health and social work.

“People walk around saying ‘I’m fine’,” said Dashawna Fussell-Ware, a doctoral student and employee of Steel Smiling. “The reality is, if you are Black or of African descent, unfortunately that’s just not true. There’s so much going on in the world in terms of racism that you can’t help but feel that loss.”

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Local Buses Kept Rolling During COVID-19

March 19, 2021 |

By Ann Belser | Posted in: Liberty Borough News, McKeesport and Region News, North Versailles Twp. News, White Oak News

A Heritage Community Transportation bus pauses on Braddock Avenue in Braddock. The non-profit group connects residents of Mon Valley neighborhoods to main Port Authority bus routes and has provided 1.5 million rides. (Submitted photo courtesy Heritage Community Initiatives)

A year ago, when the state shut down all but essential services, a Braddock-based nonprofit found that one of its services could not stop and the others were more vital than ever.

Paula McWilliams, CEO of Heritage Community Initiatives, said the bus service her organization operates, Heritage Community Transportation, was needed to make sure that workers in eastern communities, including Braddock, Liberty, McKeesport, North Versailles Twp., Port Vue and White Oak, could get to their jobs at hospitals such as Forbes Regional, UPMC McKeesport and UPMC East.

The Heritage buses, which are 14-passenger vans, operate on three fixed routes. They had to be modified for transporting workers and senior citizens who needed to get groceries and to medical appointments while keeping passengers and drivers safe.

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Former Local Pastor Suspected in Abuse Case

March 16, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is investigating a complaint of child sex abuse against a one-time Mon-Yough area pastor and radio personality.

Bishop Dorsey McConnell announced this week that the accusation was made against Charles W. Appel Jr., who was vicar of the Church of the Good Samaritan in Liberty Borough in the 1970s and 1980s.

Appel died in 2019. He served four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.

The alleged abuse happened at the church-run Sheldon Calvary Camp in Conneaut, Ohio, in the 1970s and early 1980s when the victim was a child attending events there, McConnell said.

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400 Vaccinated at UPMC McKeesport Clinic

March 16, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Kane Karsteter-McKernan, administrative professional with UPMC Health Plan, and Michele Dudek, nurse coordinator for employee health at UPMC McKeesport, prepare to check in someone arriving for a COVID-19 vaccination. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Simeania Young of Braddock was in a good mood Tuesday morning after receiving her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at UPMC McKeesport hospital.

Young, 49, said she spent last year urging her two grown children to be careful, and asking people not to visit. “I was scared to death,” she said yesterday, as she waited a mandatory 15 minutes to ensure there were no complications. “Some people are still not taking it seriously. Especially if they didn’t get sick, they didn’t think it was a big deal.”

Now that she’s on the road to vaccination? “I feel like I can plan a summer vacation this year,” Young said.

She was one of 400 people who were part of a mass vaccination event Tuesday at the Mansfield Building’s Ahmad Conference Center. They will have to return in 28 days for a second dose.

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3 Displaced in Grandview Area House Fire

March 15, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The Allegheny County fire marshal is investigating the cause of a blaze Monday morning that displaced three people from their home in the Grandview section of the city.

McKeesport fire Capt. Jim Shields said firefighters were dispatched at 11:26 a.m. when a caller to 9-1-1 reported a house fire at 1801 Abraham St.

When crews arrived, flames were visible at the rear of the two-story, wood-frame house, and a second alarm was dispatched. No one was home at the time of the fire, Shields said.

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City, ACLU Reach Agreement on Meetings

March 09, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The City of McKeesport and the American Civil Liberties Union have reached an agreement that settles a lawsuit brought by four residents after the January council meeting was closed to the public.

Under a consent order approved Tuesday by Allegheny County Judge John T. McVay Jr., the city will provide “meaningful public access” including live-streaming audio or audio and video of proceedings; will permit the public to submit comments in writing as well as audio, video or both; and will permanently preserve those comments in the public record.

Although both sides said they were satisfied with the arrangement, each also accused the other of playing politics.

“Today’s settlement is a total win for government transparency and democracy,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of city residents Fawn Walker-Montgomery, Courtney Thompkins, Tracey Jordan and Janina Riley.

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