ACLU Takes MASD to Court Over Black Student Union

April 11, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Click here to download the complaint (student names have been redacted)


The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a federal judge to order the McKeesport Area School District to allow a Black Student Union to advertise its meetings and meet on school property outside of school hours.

Citing federal law and the district’s own policies --- as well as list of other student clubs that have been sanctioned by the school district --- the ACLU of Pennsylvania on Wednesday asked a federal judge to find the district in violation of both the First Amendment and the federal Equal Access Act, a 1984 law.

The filing, made on behalf of 11 students at the high school, names the district and Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr., and asks the court to order McKeesport Area School District to provide the Black Student Union with “the same access to school facilities as other non-curricular student clubs.”

The case has been assigned to federal District Judge Marilyn J. Horan. No hearing has yet been scheduled.

 
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Mayor Hopes Redevelopment Projects Can Help Change Perceptions

April 08, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: News

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko is trying to change the perceptions of his town, whether from outsiders who've never set foot in the city or locals who think it's dying.

The mayor is hoping that investment in long-neglected parts of the city --- including the Downtown area --- will help. In March, the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh presented the city with the results of a marketing study of the Penn-McKee Hotel.

Cherepko believes returning the long-shuttered, iconic hotel to commercial or retail use would “help change the perspective of the city,” he said.

 
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Sixth Ward Duplex Fire Under Investigation

April 05, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

A fire that destroyed a two-story brick duplex on Ridge Avenue in the city on Thursday afternoon is under investigation by the Allegheny County Fire Marshal's Office.

Emergency personnel said the fire was reported just after 12 noon in the vacant structure at 904 Ridge St.

McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik said that when firefighters arrived, smoke was visible and fire had spread to both the first and second floors, and a second alarm was struck.

 
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Five Police Officers Promoted; New Deputy Fire Chief Named

April 05, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

McKeesport police Chief Adam Alfer, police Officers Sebastian Cencich, Nicholas Probola, Charles Thomas Jr. and Sheena Leszczynski, and McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko. (Tube City Almanac photo)


McKeesport City Council welcomed four new full-time police officers and congratulated two other first-responders on their recent promotions.

At Wednesday's meeting, police Chief Adam Alfer introduced police Officers Sebastian Cencich, Nicholas Probola, Charles Thomas Jr. and Sheena Leszczynski. All were hired 12 months ago as part-time McKeesport police officers and have recently been made full-time in the bureau, Alfer said.

In addition, Detective Sidney Summers of the narcotics squad has been promoted to sergeant, Mayor Michael Cherepko said.

 
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Expert: Air Pollution's Impact Comparable to Opioid Epidemic

April 05, 2019 |

By Mary Shelly | Posted in: News

Resident Mark Dixon speaks to Pittsburgh City Council during a special meeting convened to discuss the region's air quality. (Mary Shelly photo/Point Park News Service)


The number of people dying in Allegheny County from exposure to air pollution is comparable to the numbers of people dying from opioid abuse and addiction, said a Carnegie Mellon University professor who has studied air pollution’s effects.

“There (are) approximately 250 attributable deaths each year in Allegheny County from exposure to fine particulate matter, PM 2.5,” Neil Donahue, CMU professor of chemical engineering, chemistry and engineering and public policy, told Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday.

“If you monetize that, that corresponds to about $2.5 billion a year in environmental damages,” he said. “It’s a calamity of the highest order.
”

The special meeting between members of Pittsburgh City Council, representatives of the Allegheny County Health Department and environmental leaders, was prompted by recent issues at U.S. Steel’s Clairton Plant.


 
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Clairton Pollution Equipment Repaired, As Air Quality Concerns Linger

April 04, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Conflict of Interest Note: The writer has a conflict of interest. He is a U.S. Steel stockholder.

(Photo by Mark Dixon, Blue Lens, LLC, via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.)


U.S. Steel has completed repairs to pollution-control equipment at its Clairton Plant ahead of schedule.

But the announcement Thursday by a company spokesperson comes after several days during which federal authorities said air quality measured at the Liberty Borough monitor was the worst in the entire United States.

On Monday, the Allegheny County Health Department issued a new fine of nearly $708,000 against U.S. Steel for what it called "continued emissions problems" at Clairton Plant during the second half of 2018.

The county has now issued fines of more than $2 million against U.S. Steel since June 2018. In February, PennEnvironment and the Clean Air Council notified U.S. Steel that they intend to sue the company in federal court for allegedly violating the Clean Air Act.

 
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Board ‘Taking Steps’ Toward Possible Black Student Union

April 03, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: News

A soft-spoken seventh grader and a respected community leader last week told the McKeesport Area School Board they support the creation of a black student union.

The concept was first discussed in detail at the Feb. 27 board meeting.

During the public comment portion of the board's monthly meeting, Stephanie, a seventh-grade student, told the board that a black student union would help provide kids with skills in dealing with the consequences of their actions.

“You may ask why we want it,” she said. “It's not that we want it, we need it. It teaches kids right from wrong. If you take that away from us, we have nothing.”

 
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CMU Students Tour Mon Valley, Tube City Center

April 03, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

Graduate students from the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University toured the Mon Valley on Saturday as part of a project to study technological challenges to redeveloping the region.

Led by Rick Stafford, distinguished service professor of public policy, the students in the course titled "Societal Consequences of Technological Change" visited sites in Braddock, Duquesne and McKeesport, stopping for lunch at the Tube City Center for Business & Innovation (the former McKeesport Daily News Building).

 
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MASD Board Supports Changes to Cyber School Funding

April 02, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: News

The McKeesport Area School Board has lent its support to proposed legislation that would change the way cyber-charter school tuition is collected.

At the board's March 27 meeting, the board approved a resolution in support of state House Bill 526 and state Senate Bill 34. If passed, the bills would require families to pay out-of-pocket tuition for their children to attend a cyber-charter school if a similar program was offered by their home district.

Paying cyber-charter school tuition can cost the McKeesport Area School District “possibly over a million dollars (for) some of the students who are out of the district, in other cyber-charter school systems,” Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. said.

 
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Wrestling Program Plans to Grow; Abandoned Church to Be Demolished

March 21, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Tube City Almanac file photo from 2007.)


The owner of a popular pro wrestling federation that's celebrating its 25th anniversary this year is looking to grow in McKeesport.

Pro Wrestling eXpress, or PWX, is planning to move into digital media education and training aspiring wrestlers, said owner and co-founder Jim Miller.

Along with the city, PWX is seeking an Allegheny County Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund grant to demolish the abandoned St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church on Beacon Street. PWX has its studio, headquarters and ring in the former Catholic school --- now dubbed "The Battleground" --- adjoining the church.

"It’s been such a blight and I’ve done nothing but chase out squatters and druggies," Miller said.

 
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