Local Officials Urge Calm,
Common Sense in Virus Response

March 03, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Courtesy World Health Organization)

Local officials are encouraging residents to stay informed and use common-sense precautions as “coronavirus disease 2019” spreads in the United States.

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus — officially known as COVID-19 — in Pennsylvania, but with more than 100 cases reported in 15 states, experts say its entry into our area is “inevitable.”

On Friday, Steel Valley School District Superintendent Edward Wehrer reported that two staff members had traveled outside of the U.S. to areas where COVID-19 has been confirmed.

“Because the district makes the safety and overall health of all staff and students a top priority, these employees have been instructed to not report to work until the incubation period for the virus has passed and they have been cleared by a medical professional,” Wehrer said in a prepared statement.

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Developers, Funders Excited
About Possibilities in City

February 28, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Conflict of Interest Note: The author has a conflict of interest. He is a member of the McKees Point Development Group. See previous coverage of this issue and the note at the end of this story.

The developers and financial backers behind a six-year, $2.7 million project to remove blight in the city’s Downtown business district said this week they’re excited about the possibilities.

Members of McKees Point Development Group held a public hearing Wednesday at the Public Safety Building to outline the city’s goals for the first year of the Neighborhood Assistance Program, or NAP.

The program is being funded through tax credits and investments by Duquesne Light, First Commonwealth Bank, Noble Energy and UPMC Health System.

“McKeesport has a tremendous opportunity to move forward,” said Dennis Troy, president of DTI Development, which is talking to the city about partnering on several redevelopment projects.

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Mayor Names Chief Revenue Officer

February 27, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

In an effort to step up the city’s collection of unpaid taxes, permit fees and other debts, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko has hired a chief revenue officer.

Matt Gergely, who served for the past three years as business manager for McKeesport Area School District, will be introduced to city council at the March 4 meeting, Cherepko said Wednesday.

Council has already discussed Gergely’s hiring in an executive session before the Feb. 5 meeting, the mayor said.

Gergely is taking the place of two employees of the finance department who recently retired and will help oversee a “total restructuring” of the department, Cherepko said.

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PSU Trustees OK Science Lab
Updates at McKeesport Campus

February 26, 2020 |

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

(Architect’s rendering courtesy Penn State University)

The Penn State University board of trustees has approved a proposed $14.7 million project to modernize the science building at the Greater Allegheny Campus in McKeesport.

The improvements to the 21,700-square-foot Ostermayer Laboratory were recommended last week by the trustees’ committee on finance, business and capital planning and ratified by the full board on Friday.

Ostermayer Laboratory was built in 1972-73. Renovations are expected to begin this spring and to be completed in early 2021.

Turner Construction Co. of Pittsburgh was chosen as the design build team.

The company has worked on projects at other Penn State campuses and Point Park University and the University of Pittsburgh; as well as the five-story K. Leroy Irvis Science Center at Community College of Allegheny County’s North Campus and the new Thomas Jefferson High School in Jefferson Hills.

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Fish Fry Tradition Alive,
Well in Mon-Yough Area

February 26, 2020 |

By Emily Pidgeon | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, North Versailles Twp. News

(Editor's note: This story was corrected after publication.)

Volunteers at Corpus Christi Church in McKeesport prepare pierogi dough for assembly for annual fish fry. (Emily Pidgeon photos for Tube City Almanac)

Deep fryers pop and hiss, phones ring, volunteers shout out orders and collect totals. The air smells of fresh seafood and butter, cabbage and onions. Lines of people form, all waiting to place or pick up their order on the first evening of the Lenten season.

It’s just another Friday for church members and firemen alike at local area fish fries in the Mon Valley.

For the West Wilmerding Volunteer Fire Dept. in North Versailles Twp. and Mary Mother of God Parish in McKeesport, frying fish and serving the community go hand in hand with Lent. Both institutions cite religion and tradition as the reason for the fish fries each year.

“God and Money,” said Bud Pusey, West Wilmerding assistant fire chief. “That’s how we live here in the Steel Valley. That’s all we know. We get up and go to work each day to make a living and try to do the right thing. We work and we eat, and that’s how it’s always been.”

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Center’s New Exhibit is a Trip Back in Time

February 17, 2020 |

By Emily Pidgeon | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Emily Pidgeon photo for Tube City Almanac)

If you go...


Fifth Avenue: McKeesport’s Thriving Business District

Where: McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center, 1832 Arboretum Drive, Renziehausen Park

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

More Information: Website

A new exhibit at McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center will take many local residents back in time — and bring a smile to their faces.

“Fifth Avenue: McKeesport’s Thriving Business District” incorporates wooden fruit stands from Balsamo’s, Daily News canvas delivery sacks, period clothing and the jukebox from the Penn-McKee Hotel.

Possibly the most amazing thing about the exhibit is not just the attention to detail, the perfectly selected artifacts, the preserved memorabilia or the amount of time that was put into this project — it’s that David Moore, museum manager, and a group of volunteers were able to put the entire exhibit together (aside from a few small items) from what they already had in stock.

The center reused artifacts that the museum had in storage for years, Moore said. Most of the items on display were donated decades ago and have been collecting dust in store rooms.

“We wanted to put it all together to tell a cohesive story,” Moore said. “A lot of this stuff was on display and then packed away for 20 (or) 30 years ago, God knows how long, and it’s like, let’s get these pieces out.”

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City Honors Five for ‘Living the Message’

February 12, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Recipients of “Living the Message” awards pose with state Sen. Jim Brewster during the Feb. 5 McKeesport City Council meeting. From left, Jordon Payne (“Hope”); Brian Dinkfelt (“Respect”); Jamie Brewster-Filotei (co-recipient, “Love”); and, JoAnne Rodgers (“Dignity”). Not pictured: Mindy Sturgess, co-recipient, “Love.” (Nick Zurawsky photo for Tube City Almanac)

Four times per year, McKeesport honors community members who exemplify the words of the “McKeesport Message” of ”Respect, Dignity, Hope and Love.”

“Living the Message” awards are presented by the McKeesport Message Committee, Committee, a subgroup of McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko’s Select Committee on Crime and Violence, which invites the public to nominate community members.

Using 250 words or fewer, describe how the individual of your choice embodies one of the four words.

For more information, contact the mayor’s office at 412-675-5020, ext. 605. Nominations can be mailed to the mayor’s assistant Jennifer Vertullo, 500 Fifth Avenue, McKeesport, PA 15132, or emailed to jen.vertullo@mckeesport-pa.gov. The deadline for the next round of nominations is Feb. 17.

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Pioneering School Nurse Stays Active in Community

February 12, 2020 |

By Nick Zurawsky | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

JoAnne Rodgers, longtime school nurse in McKeesport Area School District, receives her “Living the Message” award from McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko. (Tube City Almanac photo)

READ MORE: Profiles of the other honorees for February 2020, Jordon Payne (“Hope”), Brian Dinkfelt (“Respect”), and Jamie Brewster-Filotei and Mindy Sturgess (co-recipients, “Love”)

When JoAnne Rodgers was growing up in McKeesport, her family instilled in her the value of hard work and a college education. But in those days, she said, there were really only two career pathways available to a young Black woman — nursing and teaching.

Inspired by the example of an aunt in Tuskegee, Ala., who worked as a nurse — and was willing to help pay for her education — Rodgers entered nursing school.

In 1971, she became the first Black school nurse hired by the McKeesport Area School District. At 82, she’s still on the job at McKeesport Area High School.

This month at McKeesport City Council, Rodgers was honored with a “Living the Message” award from McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko for upholding the value of “Dignity” by “providing a healing and helping hand to the community.”

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Five Communities Share Benefits
Under U.S. Steel, ACHD Settlement

February 11, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Liberty Borough News, McKeesport and Region News

(Brett Ciccotelli photo via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons.)

Five local communities will share benefits from a $3 million trust fund as part of a settlement reached between U.S. Steel and Allegheny County Health Department over alleged pollution violations at Clairton Plant.

The agreement, announced Monday, also commits the company to investing $200 million in upgraded emissions controls, and creates a community advisory panel that will meet quarterly with U.S. Steel to discuss concerns. It does not require U.S. Steel to admit any guilt for recent air-quality problems.

Under the terms of the agreement, U.S. Steel has agreed to create a community benefit trust for Clairton, Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln and Port Vue that will be independently administered by Pittsburgh-based Smithfield Trust Co.

Proceeds from the fund must be spent on “environmental and/or public health” benefits, but are not restricted to air quality related projects.

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Cash Named to Basketball Hall of Fame

February 11, 2020 |

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

During a 2012 event at the McKeesport Palisades, basketball star Swin Cash posed with McKeesport area students who were helped by her charity, Cash for Kids. (Tube City Almanac file photo by John Barna)

McKeesport native and two-time Olympic gold medalist Swin Cash has been named to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

Cash will be inducted June 13 in Knoxville, Tenn., along with her Seattle Sonics teammate Lauren Jackson; players Debbie Brock and Tamika Catchings; Carol Callan, director of the U.S. women’s national team; former NCAA vice president Sue Donohoe; and ESPN vice president Carol Stiff.

In a statement released Monday via Facebook, Cash said she was “humbled and honored” and congratulated the other new hall of famers.

“Thank you to the committee, my family, coaches, teammates, my hometown of McKeesport ... and every single fan that loves our game and supports it!” Cash said. “To all of the young ladies like me that were growing up ... as my mom always told me, ‘don’t quit!’ Do what you love and love what you do young queens!”

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