Local Firefighter Remembered for Efforts After 9/11

November 01, 2019 |

By Chris Baumann | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, White Oak News

Versailles volunteer firefighter Nick Ursta, then a volunteer from White Oak, responded to New York City following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (Submitted photo)

When the towers of the World Trade Center fell on Sept. 11, 2001, volunteer firefighter Nick Ursta didn't wait, says his friend Perry Gricar.

“He didn’t even think twice about going, just beelined and was right out there,” says Gricar, chief of the Versailles Volunteer Fire Co., who served alongside Ursta for 14 years. “He was a very selfless person, the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back, who you could call at 3 a.m. Just an all around genuine, great person.”

Ursta died Tuesday --- on his 52nd birthday --- of complications of mesothelioma. Family and friends believe he developed the form of cancer after a week of breathing the toxins in the air at Ground Zero following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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Drum Major Sets Pace Both On, Off Field

October 29, 2019 |

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

Senior drum major Olivia Bakaturski looks over Tiger Band members in the stands at the Franklin Regional away game on Oct. 18. (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo, special to Tube City Almanac)

McKeesport Area High School Tiger Band senior Olivia Bakaturski has come a long way musically since she first considered learning to play clarinet back in in fifth grade.

“I originally wanted to do percussion,” she said with a little laugh following a recent halftime show she directed as drum major.

Bakaturski and her band mates found success this season with the group’s industrial-themed “A Day in the Mill,” performed at football games and competitions. The Tiger Band was named Tournament of Bands Chapter 8, Group 2-0 Champions on Oct. 25.

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Cornel West: Not Optimistic, But Hopeful, About Triumph of Justice

October 29, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Author, teacher and philosopher Cornel West meets with Penn Staters prior to Friday evening's discussion at Wunderley Gymnasium in McKeesport. (Photo courtesy Penn State Greater Allegheny via Facebook)

Cornel West is not optimistic about the triumph of equality and justice. But he's hopeful.

There's a difference, he said.

During a discussion Friday night at Wunderley Gymnasium of Penn State Greater Allegheny Campus in McKeesport, West, a philosopher, author and activist, was asked if he found reasons to be hopeful and optimistic about the future lives of Black Americans.

“There is a difference between hope and optimism,” he said. “I'm not optimistic at all, I've never been an optimist.”

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MASD School Director Honored
for 45 Years’ Service

October 27, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Mary Jane Keller’s final meeting as a McKeesport Area School Board member was a bittersweet occasion for district officials and her fellow school directors.

At Wednesday's school board meeting, Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. presented Keller with a bouquet of flowers as well as a plaque recognizing her for a combined 45 years of service to the district, first as a teacher, and later as a school director.

Keller has been on the school board for eight years and served as vice-president for the past four.

An emotional Keller said, “It is my hope that I have been a positive voice for children.”

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State Funds Will Aid Roundhouse’s Clean-Up

October 23, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Tube City Almanac photo)

The owner of the old McKeesport Connecting Railroad roundhouse in the city’s industrial park will use a state grant to remove environmental hazards and prepare the building for potential new tenants.

Regional Industrial Development Corp. has received $671,200 to perform remediation at the roundhouse; the old U.S. Steel National Works guardhouse on Locust Street; and the open hearth building at the old U.S. Steel Duquesne Works.

The grant, announced Wednesday by state Rep. Austin Davis, is from the state Industrial Sites Reuse Program, which helps fund the cleanup of environmental contamination at industrial sites that are going to be used for housing, businesses or recreation areas.

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Boil-Water Advisory Lifted;
Authority Says Tests Were Clear

October 16, 2019 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News, White Oak News

A boil-water advisory that has been in effect for McKeesport-area residents since Saturday night has been lifted.

The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County announced Wednesday morning that  water samples over two consecutive days from the city, Port Vue, Versailles and White Oak were all clear.

Storage tank levels are at normal conditions so it is no longer necessary to conserve water, said Matt Junker, authority spokesman.

The advisory was put into place after an intake pump at the McKeesport Water Treatment Plant failed Saturday evening, flooding the facility and forcing it to be closed temporarily. That caused water pressure to fall throughout the system, leading the authority to impose water conservation orders for some communities and a boil-water advisory for all four communities served by the plant.

About 16,000 customers were affected.


Boil-Water Advisory Could Be Lifted Tomorrow

October 15, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, White Oak News

Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County's McKeesport Water Treatment Plant (photo courtesy MAWC)

A boil-water advisory for about 16,000 customers in McKeesport, Port Vue, Versailles and White Oak could be lifted on Wednesday.

Matt Junker, spokesman for the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, said the first round of testing on water from the McKeesport Water Treatment Plant was clear of any hazards.

"We are hopeful that the advisory can be lifted Wednesday after a second round of good results," Junker said Tuesday.

The authority also provided additional details of the incident on Saturday evening that forced the plant to be shut down, causing a loss of water pressure in parts of the McKeesport area and leading to the boil-water advisory.

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Local Facilities Coping With Boil-Water Advisory

October 14, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, White Oak News

Local schools and public facilities in areas affected by a boil-water advisory reported Monday they were finding ways to cope.

But the advisory left some businesses in the area --- mainly restaurants --- unable to open.

The failure of an intake pump that pulls water from the Youghiogheny River forced the shutdown on Saturday night of Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County's McKeesport Water Treatment Plant.

The pump was rebuilt and put back into service on Sunday afternoon, but not before many customers in the city, Port Vue, Versailles and White Oak reported no water, or very low water pressure.

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Water Plant Back in Operation;
Boil-Water Advisory Remains

October 13, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, White Oak News

(This story will be updated with new information periodically)

Volunteer firefighters from White Oak No. 1 and Rainbow handed out cases of bottled water at the borough’s municipal complex on Sunday afternoon. (Photo courtesy White Oak Office of Emergency Management, via Facebook)

The McKeesport water treatment plant is back in production, but is pumping slowly to purge air from the distribution system.

Authority spokesman Matthew Junker said the plant went back into operation at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The plant shut down Saturday night when a pump failed.

However, a boil-water advisory will remain in effect until further notice for the city, Port Vue, Versailles and White Oak. Some customers at higher elevations in Port Vue and McKeesport were reporting a complete lack of water on Sunday.

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All Communities Served by McKeesport Water Plant Under Boil Advisory

October 13, 2019 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, White Oak News

Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County has now added White Oak to a precautionary boil water advisory that McKeesport and Versailles were placed on last night.

Port Vue was added earlier today. Issues with a repair to the raw water pump caused White Oak to be added as well, said Matt Junker, spokesman for the water authority.

Water tankers are available in White Oak at the municipal building, 2280 Lincoln Way, and PNC Bank, 1612 Lincoln Way, Junker said.

Water tankers also are available at 238 Atlantic Ave. in lower 10th Ward; Walnut and 12th streets, Third Ward; Walnut and Juniper streets, Versailles; and at UPMC McKeesport Hospital.

Additional water tankers are stationed in Port Vue at American Legion Post 447, 304 Gumbert St.; and the shopping center at 1515 Washington Blvd.

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