Serra Band Celebrates Successes, Seeks Alumni

November 16, 2021 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment, McKeesport and Region News

Strains of “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” greeted visitors to Serra Catholic High School as the band prepared for a playoff football game — while also getting in some practice for McKeesport’s Salute to Santa Parade.

The band is seeking alumni — even those who have not picked up a flag or an instrument in years — to march along with current students in this Saturday’s parade.

It was also a time to reminisce and celebrate a successful competition season, where the group was named the 2021 Tournament of Bands Western Expansion Region Group 1A champions for “El Matador.”

“I am unbelievably proud of them,” band director Jesse Bush said. “I couldn’t be happier with how they performed this season.”

 
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Superintendent, NAACP Pledge to Work Together

November 11, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The McKeesport unit of the NAACP has accepted an apology from the school district superintendent, and both sides say they want to collaborate on challenges facing the community.

“My comments were not intended to be disrespectful or unprofessional,” said Mark Holtzman Jr., McKeesport Area School District superintendent, this week. “They were geared towards calling to action our community groups (and) members that were present at the meeting.”

Brenda Sawyer, NAACP unit president, said Wednesday the group wants to “put this incident behind us and continue to do what’s important.”

“And that is to ensure that the children in the McKeesport Area School District experience acess to quality teaching, fair discipline, equitable resources and challenging curricula — all necessary in preparing them for college or vocational training with resultant meaningful careers,” Sawyer said.

 
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Mayor, Men’s Shelter Still at Odds

November 10, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport’s mayor and the founder of a men’s shelter remained at odds this month.

At November’s city council meeting, Keith Giles, chief executive officer and founder of First Step Recovery Homes Inc., apologized for a recent confrontation with Mayor Michael Cherepko in front of city hall.

But Giles said that he remains frustrated that the city demolished a house owned by First Step — without his permission, he said — and sent the charitable organization the bill.

In addition, Giles said, he is disappointed that the city no longer supports the organization financially.

 
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Groups Appeal Elizabeth Twp. Power Plant’s Permit

November 10, 2021 |

By Emily Scott © Public News Service | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The location for a proposed gas-fired power plant near Buena Vista. (Invenergy illustration via Elizabeth Twp. Zoning Hearing Board)


Several environmental organizations are appealing a decision made last month by Allegheny County to approve an air permit for a large gas-fired power plant which could pose environmental and public health risks.

Invenergy’s proposed Allegheny Energy Center would be a 639-megawatt plant located in Elizabeth Twp., along the Youghiogheny River near Buena Vista. (See the original application to the Elizabeth Twp. zoning hearing board, PDF download)

A coalition of four environmental groups said under the permit, Invenergy would be able to turn the plant on and off frequently, which could lead to unlawful spikes in air pollution.

 
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Council OK’s Penalties for Zoning Violators

November 09, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport City Council has approved an ordinance that will allow violators of zoning and planning rules to be cited in criminal court.

At the November meeting, council by 7-0 vote amended the city’s zoning and planning ordinance to allow someone convicted of violations to be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine upon conviction by a magistrate.

City Solicitor J. Jason Elash said McKeesport’s zoning ordinance previously allowed violators to be cited with a criminal offense, but the language was dropped during a comprehensive update done in 2017.

 
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City NAACP Gets Apology from Superintendent

November 07, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The McKeesport unit of the NAACP asked for an apology at McKeesport Area School Board’s October meeting, saying that Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. misconstrued the group’s support.

Brenda Sawyer, unit president, said that during a discussion at the Sept. 22 meeting, Holtzman implied that the NAACP backed the early renewal of Assistant Superintendent Tia Wanzo’s contract.

“We were unaware that (Wanzo’s) contract was being renewed with two years remaining,” Sawyer said. “Where is the transparency in that? Who knew that you and Dr. Wanzo would resign and be re-hired within 48 hours on the new contract, with years remaining on the current contract? The taxpayers had no idea.”

Members of the NAACP are individuals and district taxpayers and are capable of expressing their own opinions, Sawyer said.

 
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Auberle Honors Passion, Service During Pandemic

November 04, 2021 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Local, county and state officials joined Auberle staff and board members and Bishop David Zubik to dedicate a new family emergency center at Auberle’s Hartman Street campus. (Sarah Turnbull photo for Tube City Almanac)


Auberle held its annual board meeting, “Reimagining Essential Services During COVID,” Wednesday at its McKeesport campus.

The group honored Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services as its “Community Partner of the Year.” In addition, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the Most Rev. David Zubik, Roman Catholic Bishop of Pittsburgh, helped to dedicate Auberle’s newest Family Emergency Shelter.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our human services department,” Fitzgerald said. “It takes all of us working together. Pittsburgh has learned a lot since the 1918 pandemic.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Auberle launched nine new services to address housing, unemployment, mental health support and more, group spokespersons said. These services include virtual behavioral health and therapy sessions, virtual support groups for foster parents, and mental health support for youth aging out of foster care.

 
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Republicans Sweep White Oak Council Races

November 03, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News, Politics & Elections, White Oak News

Republicans swept four vacant seats on White Oak borough council in Tuesday's election.

According to complete but unofficial results from the Allegheny County elections office, Loree Scharritter led the field with 1,188 votes, followed by incumbent Julie A. Opferman and newcomers Joelle M. Harbert and Jason Russell.

Former White Oak councilman David J. Pasternak came in fifth place; followed by Kenneth Robb and George Dillinger, who lost their bids for re-election; and Kenneth A. Obusek.

Pasternak, Robb, Dillinger and Obusek are Democrats.

 
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River-Rail Transfer Facility Plans Expansion

October 23, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

River Materials Inc. transfers bulk materials, including coal and coke, between railroad cars and barges. The company’s McKeesport facility, opened in 2019, uses a former U.S. Steel and Dravo Corp. barge dock that was previously considered “unusable.” (Submitted photo courtesy River Materials Inc.)


An intermodal facility near the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge has purchased nearly 10 additional acres of land with an eye toward expanding its operations.

It’s the second major business announcement at McKeesport’s industrial park in less than a month, following the news that medical cannabis producer Trulieve is acquiring 37 acres of land, and three buildings, in a $10.4 million deal.

River Materials Inc. is purchasing 9.92 acres from Regional Industrial Development Corp. at a cost of $595,200 and plans to build a 10,000-square-foot operations center on Center Street.

The deal was announced this week by the company and RIDC.

 
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Speaker: Women Vets Face Unique Challenges

October 19, 2021 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Lee Wagner, shown at left, is program manager for Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard. He spoke to members of the Altrusa clubs during a meeting in McKeesport on Saturday. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)


Lee Wagner wants to help break down the barriers and stigma attached to frightening topics like suicide and substance abuse among veterans.

Wagner, the program manager for Pittsburgh-based Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of Robert Morris and Point Park universities. He spoke Saturday at a workshop for members of Altrusa International, hosted by the McKeesport Altrusa club.

“I don’t talk about happy things,” Wagner warned club members. Instead, he talked about the special challenges faced by women who have served in the military, and the resources available for them.

 
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