Trash Complaints Still Vex City Leaders, Residents

October 21, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport officials remain unhappy with service from County Hauling and may go “in a different direction” when the current contract expires.

At this month’s council meeting, Mayor Michael Cherepko said service from the company has improved from a few months ago, when he and other city officials were accompanying trash trucks on their routes and picking up missed garbage.

“They definitely have gotten better,” he said. “Am I happy? No. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we go in a different direction.”

In response to questions from Tube City Almanac, a spokesman for the Rostraver Twp. based company said they “apologize for any inconvenience to residents” and urged them to “reach out to us directly so we can resolve isolated issues.”

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Christmas Parade Canceled, But Trees Will Go On

October 21, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport’s 35th annual Festival of Trees is expected to continue as scheduled, but this year’s Christmas parade has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Tube City Almanac file photo from 2019)

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused yet another cancellation — this time, of McKeesport’s Christmas parade.

However, the 35th annual Festival of Trees is expected to be held, though with social distancing rules in place and probably without food service.

“You’ll probably agree with me that this year has been a really tough year for many reasons,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “It’s disheartening to not have the events — the concerts, the ribfest, the Easter egg hunt, International Village, I could go on and on. That’s made this year a lot worse because that’s where (McKeesport) gets to shine.”

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In Unannounced Visit, HUD Secretary Stops in City

October 18, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Ben Carson, U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, visited McKeesport on Thursday to discuss the federal Financial Opportunity Zone program. The meeting with city officials and local business owners was closed to the public. (HUD photo via Twitter)

The federal secretary of Housing & Urban Development made an unannounced visit to McKeesport on Thursday to meet with city officials and local business owners.

Neither media nor the public were invited to the event with HUD Secretary Ben Carson, described as a roundtable discussion of the federal Opportunity Zone program with local business owners and developers.

It is the third time in as many months that HUD officials have visited McKeesport to discuss the Financial Opportunity Zone program, which provides tax incentives to people who invest in economically distressed areas.

Joseph J. DeFelice, Region III administrator for HUD, visited the city in both August and September.

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Seeking End to Dumping, Council Increases Fines

October 08, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Workers from Allegheny CleanWays cleared debris from an illegal dumping site in the city in September. CleanWays crews and city officials also picked up garbage dumped along the Youghiogheny River. (Submitted photo)

Frustrated by dozens of illegal dump sites throughout McKeesport, council has voted to drastically increase the fines and the city will soon post cameras in target areas.

Council on Wednesday voted 7-0 to amend the city’s illegal dumping ordinance to set a minimum fine of $2,500 and a maximum of $10,000, or up to 180 days in the Allegheny County Jail.

The previous fine was $300.

Mayor Michael Cherepko said the city has been working with Allegheny CleanWays’ “DumpBusters” program to identify illegal dumping spots.

City Administrator Tom Maglicco said 48 sites have been identified so far.

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City Detective Recovering After Motorcycle Crash

October 08, 2020 |

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

A longtime city police officer is recovering at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, Oakland, after being injured in a serious motorcycle crash on Route 48.

McKeesport police Chief Adam Alfer said Detective Joseph Osinski was southbound at Ripple Road at around 3 p.m. Monday when his motorcycle collided with a car pulling out onto the highway.

White Oak police are investigating. Chief Mark Sargent could not be reached for comment.

Osinski and his wife, Brenda, are the owners of Puzzlers’ Restaurant & Lounge in Christy Park and founders of the Joey-O Foundation for Autism Awareness, and are frequent contributors to charitable causes around the region.

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Youth Leadership Program Seeks New Students

October 08, 2020 |

By Jason A. Mignanelli | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, North Versailles Twp. News

East Allegheny High School is one of five locally that participates in the Emerging Leaders Program, run by the Human Services Center Corp. in Turtle Creek. The program is having trouble recruiting students due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo)

A program that prepares local high school seniors for college and the workforce is having trouble recruiting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Emerging Leaders Program, run by the Human Services Center Corp. in Turtle Creek, still has nearly 40 spots available for seniors attending East Allegheny, McKeesport Area, Penn Hills, West Mifflin Area and Woodland Hills high schools, said Leah O’Reilly, director of programs at HSCC.

“One of the complications that we are having with the pandemic is recruitment,” she said. “Normally we have staff on-site in each one of the school districts so they are able to see the students every day and identify potential candidates.”

That hasn’t been possible this year due to the pandemic, O’Reilly said.

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MASD Board Thanks Staff for Pandemic Response

October 03, 2020 |

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

McKeesport Area School Directors expressed their appreciation for the way teachers and administrators have handled the academic year so far.

At September’s meeting, school board President Joe Lopretto thanked Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. and other district officials for “diligently working to keep this district on track throughout the ups and down since mid-March.”

Lopretto also praised students who participated in the Sept. 18 NBC “Today” show episode that featured McKeesport Area students. During a live broadcast, Comcast, NBC’s parent company, gave away 2,500 laptops as well as Internet access to help students and teachers work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Let me tell everybody, what you saw on the Today Show segment was real,” Lopretto said. “Nothing was staged. A lot of people like to give McKeesport a bad rap about our community and our school district. I couldn’t be more proud of how our kids handled themselves in the national media spotlight.”

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Local Legislators Split on COVID-19 Vote

September 23, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Local legislators split Wednesday on an effort to overrule Pennsylvania’s governor and allow school districts to decide whether to permit spectators at athletic events during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday vetoed House Bill 2787, which would have allowed local school boards to sidestep the state Health Department and set their own COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

On Wednesday, the state General Assembly voted 130-71 to override Wolf’s veto. The move fell five votes short of the two-thirds majority necessary.

While state Rep. Austin Davis, McKeesport Democrat, called the attempt to override Wolf’s veto “a waste of taxpayer money,” state Rep. Bill Kortz, Dravosburg Democrat, said it was “extremely disappointing” that the vote failed.

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Local Residents Hold Clean Air Rally Online

September 23, 2020 |

By Kevin Kino | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

In a photo titled “Edgar Thomson Looms,” U.S. Steel’s plant in Braddock and North Braddock is visible above rooftops of nearby houses. (Photo by Macwagen/Strongbox Magazine. Licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Lisa Graves-Marcucci calls it a “pollution parfait,” and she says it’s just as unappetizing as it sounds.

That’s how the lifelong Mon Valley resident describes the sky some mornings in Jefferson Hills.

“When I would drive over to take (my kids) to the elementary school, which sits right on the hilltop overlooking the Clairton Coke Works, certain summer mornings, you could see this ‘pollution parfait,’” says Graves-Marcucci, who serves as Pennsylvania community outreach coordinator for the non-profit Environmental Integrity Project. “There would be like, lines of different colors of pollution in the sky.”

Graves-Marcucci was one of the people who participated last week in a county-wide campaign for cleaner air.

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County To Open Additional Elections Offices

September 21, 2020 |

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

(Tube City Almanac file photo)

Allegheny County will open additional elections offices in October so that voters who want to return paper ballots in person may do so safely.

Although the county plans to have more than 1,300 polling places open for the Nov. 3 election, officials expect heavier than usual use of vote-by-mail and absentee ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county board of elections last week unanimously approved a proposal in which the Elections Division will open additional offices on specific dates and times.

Each office will provide opportunity for voters to provide over-the-counter voting, and the return of voted ballots to a fully-staffed, secure office, a county spokeswoman said.

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