66 Lose Homes in Duquesne Apartment House Blaze

July 19, 2016 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

A massive fire in a Duquesne apartment building forced 66 people from their homes on Tuesday afternoon.

Residents of the Laurel Building in the Hilltop Parkview Manor complex off of Commonwealth Avenue in Duquesne's First Ward are being assisted by the American Red Cross, a county spokeswoman said. All of the tenants are believed to be staying with friends and relatives.

Red Cross and Allegheny County disaster relief workers will be back on the scene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, along with investigators from the Allegheny County fire marshal's office. The building suffered fire, smoke and heavy water damage, said Matt Brown, chief of Allegheny County Emergency Services.

All of the apartments on the first floor burned, and the roof over most of the second-floor apartments has collapsed, he said.

Low water pressure in the area hampered efforts to fight the blaze, Brown said. Tanker trucks brought water to the fire and volunteer firefighters responded from as far away as Swissvale and Monroeville.

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Glassport Apartment Project Benefits from Tax Credits

July 14, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Artist's rendering courtesy Thoughtful Balance

A project to convert the former Glassport High School into a senior living community received a boost from state officials on Thursday.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced that the Glassport Retirement Residence and two other projects --- in Mt. Lebanon and Forest Hills --- were awarded tax credits at a meeting of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

A.M. Rodriguez Associates, Franjo Construction, Thoughtful Balance Architects and CMS Management are planning to convert the 1930s high school, empty since 2004, into a 55-unit apartment building for people ages 62 and up.

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Trail-Side Cabin Begins Hosting Weary Hikers, Bikers

July 11, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A trailside cabin --- or "hostel" --- near McKeesport's marina has begun accepting its first paying guests.

Located in a former snack bar at Gergely Riverfront Park, the brick cabin is secured with an electronic lock and offers four beds, clean linens, a shower, bathroom facilities and a kitchenette, says Linda Brewster, president of the McKeesport Trail Commission.

The commission hosted an open house at the facility on Friday. Visitors who want to rent a bed overnight are charged $30 per bed, per night, and must pay using a credit or debit card; arrangements can be made by calling the trail commission at (412) 523-2972 or (724) 433-5640 before 10 p.m.

"This has been a long time coming and finally it's done," Brewster says. "Everyone who has helped us has been tremendous."

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Auditor General: McKeesport's 'Costly' Pension Mistake Must Be Fixed

June 10, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

McKeesport officials made what Auditor General Eugene DePasquale called a "costly pension mistake" when they spent more than $729,000 in state pension aid on general operating expenses, instead of depositing it into employee retirement funds.

Although the auditor general made no allegations of intentional wrongdoing, DePasquale said on Thursday the error does put future state contributions to city pension plans into jeopardy until the problem is fixed.

And the mistake only exacerbated a $2.3 million shortfall in four different pension funds covering 164 employees who have retired from McKeesport's police, fire, public works and administrative departments.

City officials acknowledged the problem and will make amends, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said.

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New Housing Opens in Homestead Boro.

June 06, 2016 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: News

Community leaders and developers cut the ribbon Thursday (June 2) on a new mixed-use development in Homestead.

One Homestead is located on East Eighth Avenue at Amity Street and has 51 housing units, including three-story loft apartments, two- and three-story townhouse units, and one- and two-bedroom apartments with patios or sunrooms.

The complex incorporates original Eighth Avenue buildings --- including the old Homestead post office, recently used as the borough police station --- as well as new construction. The developer was A.M. Rodriguez Associates of Pittsburgh and Akron.

One Homestead "was a very challenging project, but it will stand the test of time," said Victor Rodriguez, president of the company. "We put a great deal of thought into the design. We look forward to continuing to work with the Borough of Homestead on new developments, including the opening of a new brewpub in the old Levine Hardware store on 8th Avenue.”

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TV Series Filming in City; Will Close Lysle Blvd.

June 01, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Update: Traffic closures will now be "intermittent" on Monday and Tuesday, according to the mayor's office.

A Netflix TV series being filmed in the Pittsburgh area will utilize the former offices of the McKeesport Daily News for some scenes.

Sources told Tube City Almanac that the landmark Art Deco building at the corner of Lysle Boulevard and Walnut Street will stand in as an FBI office a police station in the upcoming series "Mindhunter," a series based on a 1996 book about criminal psychologists working for the FBI.

UPDATED: Signs labeling the building as the "Sacramento Police Department" appeared over the weekend.

Construction crews today removed plywood that has been covering the windows of the Daily News since the paper was closed by its parent company, Trib Total Media, on Dec. 31.

UPDATED: Filming will cause "intermittent closures" of Lysle Boulevard from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday (June 6) and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday (June 7), with a full closure of Lysle Boulevard from 6 p.m. Tuesday until 2 a.m. Wednesday (June 8), said a spokeswoman for McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko.

The road will be closed between Locust and Market streets. Detours will be posted.

According to published reports, "Mindhunter" is set in the 1970s, and producers have been seeking 1960s and 1970s cars to use in background scenes. The series is being produced by Jennifer Orme Erwin and actors Kevin Spacey and Charlize Theron.

Shooting was budgeted at $80 million, according to a story by Jason Cato in the Tribune-Review.

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Local Letter Carriers Collecting Food Donations Tomorrow

May 13, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

McKeesport-area letter carriers and volunteers are gearing up to do their part during the 24th annual nationwide "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive.

Organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers, the union representing nearly 280,000 active and retired U.S. Postal Service employees, the food drive last year collected 71 million pounds of food across the United States.

Residents are asked to place non-perishable food items into bags at their mailboxes for collection on Saturday.

In the McKeesport area, the collection will begin early Saturday morning, said Chuck Jarrell, food drive coordinator for Letter Carriers Branch 332.

The food collected stays in the areas where it's collected, he said.

"A big chunk goes to Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank -- about two trucks' worth," Jarrell said. "But to help with logistics we keep a lot as local as possible. White Oak's food is taken to Sampson's Mills Presbyterian Church food pantry, and food collected in the Boston area is collected for McKeesport's Salvation Army."

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City Making Progress on Demolition Backlog

May 04, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

The city is making progress on tearing down abandoned houses and is getting cooperation from at least one of the country's largest banks.

At last night's work session, McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko told council that at least a dozen vacant houses have been torn down by city public works employees since Jan. 1, and said likely "40 to 50" have been demolished in the past two years, when McKeesport purchased a piece of heavy equipment known as an excavator.

Paying an outside contractor to demolish a house can cost $8,000 to $10,000. At those rates, Cherepko said, the city's excavator "is more than paid for."

In at least one case, he said, the home mortgage division of Wells Fargo & Co. transferred an abandoned house to the city, along with $10,000 to pay for its demolition. The bank had taken ownership of the house in a foreclosure when the previous owner defaulted on their mortgage.

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1-Adam-12: Your Cars Are Ready

April 29, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A sharp-eyed reader who would prefer to remain anonymous spotted these vintage 1970s Plymouths and AMC Matadors being turned into police cars at a shop on Lebanon Road, near the West Mifflin municipal building, and sent us this photo.
"Is the West Mifflin police department going retro?" our reader asked. Maybe. Or else Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane of "The Dukes of Hazzard" is in town --- he did wreck an awful lot of similar police cars on that show.
We don't know for sure, but it seems more likely that they're being prepared for the new Netflix series "Mindhunters," which starts filming in Pittsburgh in May. In March, Pittsburgh's Nancy Mosser Casting put out a request asking owners of cars from the 1960s through early 1980s if they were interested in participating.
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Council OK's Raffles, Other Games at Palisades

April 14, 2016 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: News

The Palisades Ballroom has received formal permission from city council to host small games of chance such as raffles.

At its April 6 meeting, McKeesport council by 7-0 vote recognized the McKees Point Palisades Performing Arts Corporation as a civic or service association under the state's Local Option Small Games of Chance Act.

Council's approval clears the way for the Palisades to host raffles and other small games of chance to help fund its operations.

In other business:

  • Council by 7-0 vote approved a two-year contract with employees of the public works department, and another with the city's clerical employees. Both groups of employees are represented by Teamsters Local Union 205. The contracts run through Dec. 31, 2017.
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