PurePenn CEO: Company Ahead of Schedule, Next Phase Underway

August 07, 2018 |

By Lynne Glover | Posted in: News

Above: Gabe Perlow, CEO of PurePenn, gives an interview to a reporter during a celebration July 24 in McKeesport. (Lynne Glover photo)

You could say that PurePenn is on a roll. The McKeesport-based medical marijuana grower plans to expand its facility by 40 percent and increase its employee count from 26 to 50.

In fact, the company's growth trajectory is ahead of schedule by almost two years, according to CEO Gabe Perlow. Still to come is a $1 million investment that will include an addition of a greenhouse and will allow PurePenn to double its growing space for the "Moxie by PurePenn" brand of medical marijuana extracts.

“The industry has grown much faster than we anticipated,” Perlow said.

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Motorcade Will Escort Vietnam Wall Into City

August 06, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Above: The mobile wall on display in Portland, Texas, earlier this year. Photo courtesy Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.)

A three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will arrive in McKeesport on Tuesday afternoon, and the community is being encouraged to welcome it to the city.

A procession of more than 200 motorcycles and emergency vehicles will escort the mobile "Wall That Heals" from Olympia Shopping Center on Walnut Street beginning at approximately 4:45 p.m., circling the city and arriving at Renziehausen Park shortly after 5 p.m.

Then, on Wednesday morning, a crew of 20 to 25 volunteers will meet at Renzie's Jimmy Long Field to begin assembling more than 140 panels into the 375-foot-long wall during what Tim Tetz, director of outreach for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund in Arlington, Va., calls "the largest game of 'Tetris' you've ever played."

The wall will open to visitors Wednesday evening, Tetz said, and remain open at Renzie, around the clock, through 11 a.m. Aug. 12. A formal opening, including a special ceremony recognizing 40 local veterans, is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, according to a spokesman for state Sen. Jim Brewster.

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Fox Found in North Versailles Was Rabid; Baits Being Set

July 30, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News, North Versailles Twp. News

A fox discovered on Fifth Avenue in North Versailles Twp. has tested positive for rabies, the Allegheny County Health Department said Monday.

The fox was found last week in the 3300 block, just past Westinghouse Avenue, according to Ryan Scarpino, health department spokesman.

Meanwhile, East McKeesport police announced Monday night that volunteers from the health department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be spreading baits laced with rabies vaccine in the area beginning Aug. 3 and continuing through Aug. 17.

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Work Continues to Rehab Renzie Park Pavilions

July 25, 2018 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements, News

Work continues on the rehabilitation of five pavilions at Renziehausen Park in McKeesport.

The general contractor for four of the pavilions is Plavchak Construction Co. of Jefferson Hills. The work includes new roofs, signage, benches and other updates to pavilions 1, 2, 3 and 7 at a cost of $184,750.

Funding is being provided through a special allocation from the Allegheny Regional Asset District, which is supported by Allegheny County's 1 percent sales tax.

A fifth pavilion is scheduled to be renovated with the help of the McKeesport Lions Club.

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School Taxes Increasing for McKeesport Area Property Owners

July 13, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Related Story: School taxes may be paid at discount through Sept. 14

Many property owners in the McKeesport Area School District will be unhappy when their tax bills begin arriving next week.

School property taxes for the 2018-19 school year are increasing 2.11 mills this year, to 19.48 mills. The increase represents an addition $2.11 in taxes on each $1,000 of value of a property.

The increase, and the district's $67 million budget, were approved by an 8-1 vote at the district's June 27 meeting, with school director David Donato dissenting.

According to the real estate tracking website Zillow, the median home value in McKeesport is $55,300, while the median home value in White Oak is about twice as high, at $104,500. The taxes on a home valued at $55,300 will increase $116.68, while the taxes on a home valued at $104,500 will increase $220.50.

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172 Houses Head to Demolition; At Least 50 More to Be Added

July 13, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

McKeesport City Council this week added another 172 vacant buildings to its demolition list. The houses will be torn down using a mix of local and federal funds. Click the map to explore the locations.

From approximately "coast to coast" --- including both Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Avenue --- 172 additional vacant houses and commercial buildings have been approved for demolition by McKeesport City Council.

At least 50 more are expected to be scheduled for demolition in the next round, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko promised city council this week. Virtually every neighborhood in the city will be touched this year, he said.

"Nothing's perfect, but overall, I think we did a good job when you talk about preserving the neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city, as well as those on the main thoroughfares," Cherepko said.

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Grandview Residents Demand Action From Water Authority

July 12, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

The water authority serving McKeesport says it has no record of any complaints about fire hydrants in the Grandview section of the city.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko and angry city residents disagree.

And they want the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County to run a new water line to a neighborhood that has been plagued by fires, including a blaze on June 16 that leveled one family's home, heavily damaged a neighbor's home, and caused severe damage to at least four nearby houses.

Residents and city firefighters say lack of sufficient water at nearby hydrants hampered efforts to battle that fire, and other blazes.

"I have not been able to sleep," Norma Kwiecinski, who lives near the site of the June fire, told city council on Tuesday. "I'm really scared in our neighborhood and I want to know what's going to be done about this."

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City Council OK's Assessment of Penn-McKee Hotel

July 10, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Conflict-of-Interest Note: The writer of this article has a conflict of interest. See editor's note.

(Photo by Nyttend via Wikimedia Commons)

McKeesport will partner with a Pittsburgh-based preservation society to determine whether the city's landmark Penn-McKee Hotel can be saved and reused for other purposes.

At Wednesday's meeting, council by 7-0 vote approved an agreement with the Young Preservationists Association to conduct an environmental assessment of the long-vacant hotel as well as an architectural and feasibility study.

Matthew Craig, executive director of the YPA, said the study will consider historic reuse of the entire block of Fifth Avenue between Strawberry and Mulberry alleys, which includes a former Moose lodge and several pre-Civil War houses.

YPA intends to work closely with city officials and volunteers throughout the process, Craig told council.

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Wilmerding YMCA to Close in August

July 10, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

The Wilmerding YMCA was expanded in 2006 at a cost of $750,000. The renovations, designed by Penner & Associates architects, added a two-story wellness center and family locker room and reconfigured the existing lobby and administrative area. (Photo copyright Penner & Associates.)

The YMCA in Wilmerding will close Aug. 31, a spokeswoman for the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh has announced.

The closure of the facility on Ice Plant Hill Road is related to the Greater Pittsburgh Y's reorganization in federal bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy proceedings began May 8.

More than 1,100 Y members will be affected, along with six full-time employees and 70 part-time employees.

The Wilmerding Y was the last remaining facility in the Mon-Yough area, absorbing memberships of people who had belonged to the McKeesport YMCA. Closing the facility will save the Greater Pittsburgh Y about $163,000 per year.

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Message of Hope Carries Prayer Walk Through City's Downtown

July 09, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

* Correction appended. Rev. Truss' name was misspelled. We apologize for the error.

Rev. Earlene Coleman of Bethlehem Baptist Church charges up participants prior to a prayer walk Friday in Downtown McKeesport. (Vickie Babyak photo special to Tube City Almanac.)

Participants in a prayer walk through Downtown McKeesport on Friday carried with them a message of hope.

"We will not see our city destroyed," said the Rev. Earlene Coleman, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, before about 80 walkers set off from the McKees Point Marina. "We will not see McKeesport die, but it will live again."

The event was organized by the McKeesport Unit of the NAACP. Brenda Sawyer, unit president, said the walk --- up Fifth Avenue to UPMC McKeesport hospital, then back down Lysle Boulevard to the marina --- was "beautiful."

Participants included members of McKeesport city council and McKeesport Area school board, McKeesport Area School Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr., state Rep. Austin Davis and state Sen. Jim Brewster.

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