Kennywood, Other Attractions Reopening

June 30, 2020 |

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

UPDATE: Kennywood announced July 2 that they would not open on July 11 due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County. “Our top priority at Kennywood and Sandcastle is the health and safety of our guests and team members, and the community at large,” the park announced.

Kennywood employees standing six feet apart demonstrate social distancing. Guests will need to make a reservation to visit the park, which opens July 11. Masks also will be required for most patrons age 3 and older, except on water rides. (Submitted photo courtesy Kennywood)


Just in time for the start of summer — and the arrival of hot and sunny weather in Western Pennsylvania — local attractions are welcoming visitors after many were closed, or delayed their opening days, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kennywood Park in West Mifflin, which usually welcomes guests in early May, will open to the public beginning on July 11 — but at the 121-year-old amusement park and elsewhere, things will look and be quite different this year.

For one thing, advance registration will be required, said Nick Paradise, director of public relations at Kennywood. Guests who want to visit Kennywood must RSVP at the park’s website, kennywood.com. The park also suggests having alternate dates in mind, in case the preferred date is already booked to capacity.

 
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July 4 Fireworks Still Planned in City

June 29, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Fireworks illuminate Gordon Street in McKeesport on July 4, 2019. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)


Although other communities have scrapped their Independence Day fireworks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the show will go on in McKeesport.

However, there will be no city-sponsored activities on the ground in Renziehausen Park, and officials are suggesting people view the fireworks from the safety of their own homes or backyards.

If necessary, Mayor Michael Cherepko said, residents can drive to Renzie but park and stay in their cars.

Because the display can be safely viewed from a distance, Cherepko said, the city “decided all along that we were not going to cancel fireworks.”

 
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As COVID-19 Cases Set Another Record,
New Restrictions in Place

June 28, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Update: At 7:51 p.m., county officials announced that on-premises liquor consumption must end immediately, but enforcement will not begin until 5 p.m. Tuesday. This story also has been updated with remarks from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.


As COVID-19 cases set another new record high in Allegheny County, officials have announced new restrictions on bars and restaurants and are recommending all travelers self-quarantine for two weeks.

At a press conference Sunday, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said “these are severe steps,” but added, “we’re going in the wrong direction.”

Overnight, 96 new cases were confirmed in Allegheny County overnight, breaking the record of 90 cases set Saturday. Those are the highest numbers since the county first began tracking COVID-19 in March.

Last week, county officials said that through contact tracing, they determined that many new COVID-19 patients had been spending time in bars and restaurants.

 
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International Village Canceled Due to Pandemic

June 27, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Denise L. Ritter photo for Tube City Almanac)


International Village — McKeesport’s signature summer event and one of the largest ethnic festivals in Western Pennsylvania — has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city had been hoping to operate a scaled-down version of the three-day event in Renziehausen Park — offering takeout food only, with no seating and no live entertainment — but Mayor Michael Cherepko said Saturday that vendors surveyed by the village committee were reluctant to participate.

“The vast majority of them weren’t interested in having the village this year in any way, shape or form,” Cherepko said. “They’re concerned about COVID-19 and concerned about having volunteers at their booths.”

It’s the first time in International Village’s 61-year history that the event has been canceled.

 
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Hospital Confirms Seven Cases of COVID-19

June 27, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Kerry Pollard, a microbiologist for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, extracts a sample of SARS-CoV2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, inside a state-operated lab in Exton, Chester County. (Photo courtesy Pennsylvania Department of Health)


Seven cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at UPMC McKeesport hospital, a spokeswoman said Saturday, but it’s unclear if the cases are related or coincidental.

The report comes as officials are warning of a sharp increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 across Allegheny County — many among younger people who recently traveled or who had been visiting bars and restaurants.

Countywide, there were 90 new cases reported Saturday — the biggest single-day jump since the health department began tracking COVID-19 in March.

In a prepared statement, UPMC spokeswoman Sarah Katz said four cases have been identified among patients at UPMC McKeesport and three among employees. The departments where the employees work were not released.

 
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Marchers Seek New Inquiry Into Woman’s Death

June 14, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Richard Finch Jr. photo for Tube City Almanac)


More than 300 people marched peacefully through Downtown streets on Friday afternoon to call attention to the plight of a trans woman found dead on Sinclair Street in May.

Friends and family of Aaliyah Johnson, 32, want Allegheny County police to do a more thorough investigation of her death on May 26.

On Thursday, the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office ruled Johnson’s death a suicide, but one of the organizers of the march, Terrance McGeorge, told Tube City Almanac that one of Johnson’s former lovers had threatened to murder her.

 
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Friends Hope March Will Draw Attention to
Plight of Black LGBTQ Community

June 11, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Editor’s Note: This is a developing story and will be updated if necessary.

* Correction, 8 p.m. June 11, 2020


A woman who died in a fall from Midtown Towers was in fear for her life before the incident, a childhood friend said Thursday.

Terrance McGeorge said Aaliyah Johnson, who was transgender, was threatened with murder by a man with whom she had been linked, and who was angry and embarrassed because other people might find out.*

McGeorge, who is one of the leaders of a group called Project Matters, is helping to organize a march that is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Friday at the Jerome Avenue Bridge, proceed past the Public Safety Building on Lysle Boulevard, and end near Johnson’s apartment.

The march is intended to be peaceful, he said. Attendees are being asked to wear blue — Johnson’s favorite color — and to carry a candle. Participants should park in the lot near the McKees Point Marina, he said.

 
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Rally Organizers Seek Answers in Woman’s Death

June 11, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

Clarification: An organizer of the event says the vigil and march will start at the Jerome Avenue Bridge, Downtown, not the 15th Avenue Bridge as was originally reported, and will end near the victim’s apartment on Sinclair Street. The march will not proceed to O’Neil Boulevard. Updated June 11, 2 p.m.


Friends and family of a woman who died May 26 in a fall from a Downtown apartment building plan to march on Friday to call attention to the circumstances surrounding her death.

Organizers claim that Allegheny County police have not adequately investigated the death of Aaliyah Denise Johnson, 32, who was pronounced dead after her body was found on a sidewalk in the 500 block of Sinclair Street.

County police told Tube City Almanac that Johnson is believed to have fallen or jumped from her ninth-floor window at Midtown Towers and that surveillance cameras showed that no one entered or left her apartment before or after the incident.

But Johnson, who was an MC at local events and clubs, and also worked as a hairstylist and makeup artist, had a large social media following. Her friends said she was targeted for harassment and abuse because she was Black and transgender.

 
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Council OK’s Demolition of Vacant Church

June 11, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport city council has approved the demolition of a former Hungarian church just off Evans Avenue.

At the June 3 meeting, council awarded a $77,900 contract to demolish the former St. Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church on Beacon Street to Lutterman Excavating of Greensburg. Lutterman was the lowest responsible bidder, city officials said.

Built in 1900 and 1901 to serve the city’s Hungarian Catholic population, St. Stephen’s closed in 2002 following the death of its longtime pastor, the Rev. Stephen Kato, who had first come to the parish in 1962.

 
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City Seeks Funds for Bike Trail Study

June 10, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport officials are envisioning a day when the regional hiking and biking trail network could be connected to Renziehausen Park, Grandview and other city neighborhoods.

By 6-0 vote, council this month approved an application to the Active Allegheny grant program for $81,000 for a project called “Pedestrian Access to McKeesport’s Trail Systems.”

Administered by the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, the Active Allegheny program provides financial assistance to municipalities to develop bicycle and pedestrian connections from neighborhoods to local destinations, and increase opportunities for residents to get exercise.

 
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