MASD Life Skills Students Pitch in at Agape

May 04, 2023 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Students are hard at work organizing and sorting clothes for The McKeesport Agape Center on Prescott Street in White Oak. (Submitted photo courtesy Rachelle Cilli)

Life Skills students from McKeesport Area School District students have been learning to be the best they can be by volunteering and gaining valuable job skills every Tuesday afternoon at the McKeesport Agape Center in White Oak.

MASD special education teacher, Rachelle Cilli, instructs the Community Based Experiences class. She takes students into the community to learn about job skills that will help them after they graduate high school and become employed.

Cilli said her class began volunteering at Agape in September 2022. “The class has worked at different places throughout the community but this was our first year at Agape. I didn’t realize the variety of experience the students would gain here,” she said.

Life Skills classes are a program for students who have learning challenges and need additional support to learn tasks that enable them to live with a degree of independence. Additional instruction is provided with academics, personal wellness, home economics, communications and social skills, and job skills.

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Business Manager Warns of Increased Costs

May 01, 2023 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A budget presentation by McKeesport Area School District business manager Scott Domowicz added heft to an already weighty meeting last week.

Domowicz said next year’s total proposed budget is for $86 million with an approximate fund balance of $10.6 million. The 2022-23 budget approved by the board was approximately $79.8 million.

“We’ve added to our general fund balance, however, we have to be responsible with the spending,” School Board President Latoya Wright said.

Despite the fund balance, increased costs stand to hamper the district, Domowicz explained. “Contractual labor agreements and additional staffing represents an increase in payroll expenses of 8 percent,” he said.

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Bias Discussion Dominates School Board Meeting

May 01, 2023 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A discussion of possible institutional bias dominated April’s meeting of the McKeesport Area School Board.

The wide-ranging conversation was triggered by a social media post, and subsequent comments, that alleged an unidentified student received preferential treatment.

“Everyone needs to be consistent,” School Board President Latoya Wright said.

The district’s policy manual authorizes the board to establish “fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory rules and regulations” regarding student conduct, and delegates the superintendent to ensure policies are followed. In the event of an infraction, students “shall have a right to notice,” and suspensions and expulsions shall be carried out according to board policy.

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City Church Steps Up for Wounded Officer

April 26, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Rev. Dr. Moni McIntyre embraces McKeesport police Officer Charles Thomas on Tuesday at the city’s Public Safety Building. (Special to Tube City Almanac)

A Downtown church on Tuesday presented a city police officer who is recovering from wounds sustained during a shooting with more than $300 in gift cards in honor of his service.

The gift to McKeesport police Officer Charles Thomas Jr. was the idea of Jo Pratt of White Oak, a parishioner at St. Stephen Episcopal Church, Walnut Street, and was quickly adopted by other members of the congregation, who contributed to the collection.

“We felt it was really, really necessary, because our church is in the community, and we realize the risk our police officers take with their lives, and that the compensation they receive does not in any way compare,” Pratt said. “We wanted (Thomas) to get a night out and to let all of our police know that we care, and that they are in our constant thoughts and prayers.”

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Families Look for Alternatives As Home Closes

April 19, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Denise Sharbaugh spent the weekend looking for a new home for her 88-year-old father. She’s not sure how well he will adapt to the change.

Chuck Sharbaugh, who has lived at Senior Care Plaza on Lysle Boulevard for several years, is one of the residents who will be displaced when the personal care home closes May 1. A spokesman for the state Department of Human Services said the facility is voluntarily surrendering its license to operate.

A commercial kitchen on the site will continue to operate, employees have told Tube City Almanac, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Everything’s been running smoothly, my dad has been well taken care of,” Sharbaugh of White Oak said. “It’s really clean, and I like it. I’m really taken aback.”

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Old Railroad Roundhouse Getting New Owner

April 18, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Tube City Almanac photo)

The last unused building in McKeesport’s industrial park is getting a new owner.

McKeesport City Council has approved a request from W&E Investments LLC to use the former McKeesport Connecting Railroad roundhouse for temporary storage of oil and lubricants used by U.S. Steel plants in the area.

The roundhouse, built in 1906, was used by the railroad for repair of locomotives and other equipment until 1987.

W&E Investments is a project of Cliff Wise, chair of River Materials Inc., which operates a barge and railcar loading facility under the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge.

“It is literally the only building not bought or occupied at this point” in the industrial park, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko says. “We’re going to allow (Wise) to use it for storage for now” while additional plans are developed.

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Senior Care Plaza Closing, Residents Displaced

April 13, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Senior Care Plaza has been located in the former McKeesport Sheraton Inn since 1992. The facility has announced it is closing May 1. (Tube City Almanac photo)

A Downtown personal care home is closing May 1 after a long battle with state regulators over licensing issues.

Senior Care Plaza, located on Lysle Boulevard, has notified family members about the closure. It has been operating under a provisional license since March 2021, according to files at the state Department of Human Services. The facility, located in the former McKeesport Sheraton Inn, has been open since 1992.

A commercial kitchen that provides service to other providers will remain in operation.

State records indicate the facility is licensed for 100 beds, but according to several sources speaking on condition of anonymity, Senior Care Plaza has not been at full occupancy for some time.

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Three City Police Officers Promoted

April 11, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport police Chief Adam Alfer with newly promoted police Officers Matt Cerasuolo, Joshua Kramer and Parker Scherf, and McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko. (Tube City Almanac photo)

McKeesport city council has elevated three part-time police officers to full-time status.

At the April meeting, council approved the personnel moves for Officers Matt Cerasuolo, Joshua Kramer and Parker Scherf. McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said each of the three have been serving the city for a year and have done “an incredible job.”

In other business, council approved the appointment of Earnest Oatneal to a one-year term on the city’s civil service commission, and William Miller and Jim Miller, no relation, to two-year terms. Attorney Jim Creenan was appointed as the commission’s solicitor.

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First Step Seeks Funds to Rebuild After Fire

April 03, 2023 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Courtesy First Step Recovery Homes Inc. via GoFundMe)

A fire that damaged an apartment building on Penny Steet last week has left First Step Recovery Homes Inc. temporarily unable to accept any new residents.

The charitable organization, which helps people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, is waiting to find out if insurance will cover its losses, said Keith Giles, founder of First Step. The city-based non-profit has created a GoFundMe to raise additional money, he said.

Four residents were displaced by the fire, which began Wednesday night at the rear of a wood-frame two-story house at 330 Penny St., destroying the back porch, traveling up the back wall, and damaging the roof and attic. The cause of the fire is under investigation but McKeesport fire officials said last week it is not considered suspicious.

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Gym Program Matches Different Kids, Abilities

April 03, 2023 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Area High School physical education teachers Richard Satcho and Victoria Pomilio look over plans as they co-teach the new Partners in Physical Education class. The program matches general education and special education students to build social skills and self-confidence. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)

A group of McKeesport Area High School students are creating warm and caring friendships while participating in a Partners in Physical Education class.

Partners in PE is a nationwide program that matches general education and special education students to help each other in physical ed activities. The concept was reportedly first adopted in the Pittsburgh area by the Baldwin-Whitehall School District in 2001 and has since spread throughout the region, including at Belle Vernon Area, West Allegheny and other districts.

The program’s goals include helping students use physical activity as a way to build their social skills and self-confidence.

Brianne Lion, assistant special education coordinator at McKeesport Area, is pleased with the results so far.

“As we walk through life, our interaction with those who have different strengths and needs from our own, leaves a lasting impression on how we gain perspective, friendship and grow compassion for one another,” she said. “Partners in PE allows for all students to gain access to their full potential and to build these friendships that shape their future success.”

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