3 Local Racers Headed to World Soap Box Derby Finals

June 18, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News, Sports

(All photos: Vickie Babyak, special to Tube City Almanac)


Steamy temperatures and scorching pavement didn't faze entrants in the 2018 Greater Pittsburgh Soap Box Derby, held Sunday morning on Eden Park Boulevard in front of McKeesport Area High School.

The annual Father's Day tradition has been held for 36 consecutive years, but actually dates to the 1950s.

The top finishers in each category will be headed to the All-American Soap Box Derby World Championships, to be held in July in Akron, Ohio.

Photographer Vickie Babyak braved the heat to grab these images.

 
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4 Injured When Fire Sweeps Home; Lack of Water Hampered Efforts

June 18, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A sign urges passersby to help two families burned out of the home that once stood at 2615 Cleveland St. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)


Little remains of a house in the 2600 block of Cleveland Street that burned on Saturday morning --- sending four members of the Sostaric and Murphy families to the hospital.

A lack of water from local hydrants hampered efforts by McKeesport firefighters to fight the blaze, which spread to a neighboring home a few feet away, and got hot enough to melt the siding from three houses on the opposite side of the street.

Neighbors said it isn't the first time that a lack of water has hampered firefighting efforts on the street. One neighbor, who asked that his name not be printed, pointed to a vacant lot directly across from the home that burned to the ground Saturday.

"That house over there burned a few years ago," the neighbor said. "That vacant lot a few doors up? That was two houses that burned. Every time, same problem --- no water."

 
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Entrepreneur Eyes High-Tech Farm on RIDC Property

June 11, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Entrepreneur Juan Lacey is hoping some day to grow some of these same vegetables using aquaponics technology in McKeesport. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)


Urban farming in the Mon Valley isn't anything new --- but local businessman Juan Lacey isn't proposing an ordinary garden.

Lacey says he can grow produce and raise fish for 12 months out of the year at the RIDC Industrial Center of McKeesport using a technology called "aquaponics."

And if he can line up the financing --- if McKeesport is designated as an "opportunity zone" by the federal government --- Lacey says such a farm could be employing 16 or more people, producing fresh vegetables and fish for sale in supermarkets and use by restaurants within four to six months.

"Four acres can support 16 growing systems," Lacey says. "Each one of those creates 93,000 heads of lettuce per year, which is approximately 1.6 million heads of lettuce. That's a lot of product coming out."

James Rakocy, a retired researcher at the University of the Virgin Islands who is considered one of the fathers of aquaponics, says Lacey's goal isn't unattainable.

 
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Annual Fishing Derby Attracts Lake Emilie Crowd

June 10, 2018 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: News

(All photos: Vickie Babyak, special to Tube City Almanac)


McKeesport's annual fishing derby attracted a crowd to Lake Emilie in Renziehausen Park on Saturday morning, including the Brooks, Nowak and Jordan families from Port Vue, shown above.

Organized by the McKeesport Recreation Board, this year's event was sponsored in part by Mutt Jr. Bait Shop and Smallies on the Yough, said Jim Brown, city recreation director.

Prizes were given throughout the morning and a lunch of hot dogs, chips, drinks and cupcakes was served.

Above, showing off their prizes are winners for most fish Caiden Tagaloe and Christine Wampler, and the winners for biggest fish Michael Blackwell and Leonnah Nehila.

 
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As Paving Progresses, City Discusses Litter-Busting Campaign

June 10, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Above: Paving projects are underway throughout the city and will continue "until the asphalt plants close down," McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko said. Photo courtesy City of McKeesport, via Facebook)


While city workers and private contractors tackle long-awaited paving projects throughout McKeesport, officials are becoming concerned about the amount of trash littering those same streets.

"You can ride down a freshly paved street and see litter all over the sides of it," Councilman Jim Barry said last week. "As fast as you pick it up, it's back down again."

If McKeesport wants to improve its image, Barry said, then along with removing blighted houses and paving streets, "we need to do something about the litter in this city."

 
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Railroad Tower on Track for $23K Makeover

June 09, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photos special to Tube City Almanac)


One of McKeesport's neglected landmarks is on track for a $23,000 makeover.

Council has approved the use of part of the city's $1.075 million allocation of federal Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, funds to repair and restore the railroad crossing watchtower at the corner of Walnut and Sixth streets, Downtown.

The tower is the only one remaining of possibly 20 or more that once guarded the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad's tracks when they cut directly through the Downtown business district.

A.J. Tedesco, McKeesport community development director, said the tower was deemed worthy of historic preservation.

 
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Council OK's New Restaurant, Other Projects

June 06, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Three new commercial spaces --- including a new restaurant in the city's East End --- have been given the go-ahead by McKeesport City Council.

At Wednesday's meeting, council by 6-0 vote approved recommendations from the city planning commission to approve the new restaurant on East Fifth Avenue and a site plan for a new office building on Walnut Street in the Third Ward, as well as a request to consolidate several lots at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street, Downtown.

The identity of the new fast food restaurant's operator is a mystery.

 
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Family, Army Pursuing Handbag Makers Who Used Army Vet's Name, ID Number

June 06, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

The family of a McKeesport veteran whose name and U.S. Army service number are being used as decorations on a series of purses and handbags are considering legal action against the companies importing them.

Jennifer Sopko, granddaughter of Thomas Piotrowski Sr., 90, said her family has consulted an attorney specializing in intellectual property law and will decide what action to take.

Separately, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army in Arlington, Va., said government lawyers are investigating whether the use of the Army's trademarked name and seal, along with a veteran's service number, violated federal law.

 
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Local Family Seeks Answers After Vet's Papers Wind Up as Decoration

May 31, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Above: A handbag with Tom Piotrowski Sr.'s name and Army discharge papers is being sold around the world by two companies. His family says the companies never got permission to use the image or his name.


The family of a McKeesport-area veteran was shocked to learn that two companies have reproduced his Army discharge papers --- and his name --- on purses and handbags made in India and sold around the world.

Thomas Piotrowski Sr., 90, currently resides in an assisted living facility in North Huntingdon Twp. His family hasn't yet told him what happened, but they want answers from Myra Bags, an Indian firm, and Chloe & Lex, based in Gig Harbor, Wash., which are selling the handbags decorated with Piotrowski's name and discharge papers.

The image was apparently taken, without permission, from an article written by Piotrowski's granddaughter, Jennifer Sopko.

"When did this start?" asked Piotroswki's son, Tom Jr. "How long have they been doing this? Did they manufacture 10,000 of these? 500? I don't know. And is he the only veteran they've done this to?"

 
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Demolition Proceeds on Vacant Sinclair Street Building

May 30, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

Crews from Lutterman Excavating are tearing down a vacant building at the intersection of Sinclair and Ringgold streets in McKeesport after officials said that runoff and debris were falling onto the roof of city hall.

A.J. Tedesco, the city's community development director, said Wednesday the three-story office building is being torn down under an emergency demolition order.

A one-story portion of city hall abuts the building, which once housed doctors' offices.

 
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