People's Building Has a Buyer; New Owner Already at Work

June 06, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Tube City Almanac file photo)

McKeesport's historic People's Bank Building will likely have a new owner by the end of the month.

The mostly vacant 80,000-square-foot structure was transferred to the Redevelopment Authority of the City of McKeesport for $1 and is now under agreement to be sold to a new owner, said A.J. Tedesco, the city's community development director.

The buyer is Jonathan Stark, owner of Legion Arms and Compulsive Paintball, who also is developing a new commercial building on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street at the one-time site of the Memorial Theater.

"We have a lot of work to do," Stark said. "Lots and lots and lots of work to do."

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County Voters Invited to Test New Voting Machines

June 06, 2019 |

By Griffin Gordon | Posted in: News

* CORRECTION: This story was corrected after publication.

With the presidential election of 2020 looming, Allegheny County officials are testing new kinds of voting machines.

The board of elections will hold a public meeting from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday (June 7) in the Gold Room of the Allegheny County Courthouse, downtown Pittsburgh, to discuss the options and hear from three experts regarding election security.

On Wednesday at CCAC South Campus in West Mifflin, residents got a chance to try different kinds of voting technology for themselves. The machines being demonstrated could be broken down into three basic methods: entirely paper ballots, entirely automated ballots, and hybrid ballots that combine paper and electronic systems.

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State's Second 'Laundromat Library' Coming to Olympia

June 06, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

Pittsburgh's public television station and the Carnegie Library of McKeesport are teaming up to open the state's second "Wash and Learn" laundromat library at Olympia Shopping Center.

A celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Friday (June 7) at the Olympia Coin Laundry in Versailles, said Colleen Rauschenberg Denne, executive director of the library. The event is open to the public.

In cooperation with WQED Multimedia, the Allegheny County Library Association, and the international charity Libraries Without Borders, the McKeesport library is installing bookshelves and wi-fi hotspots at the laundromat.

The library hopes that customers of the laundry “will be introduced to some of the resources the library has to offer and become regular library users," Denne said.

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Study: Hotel's Reuse Could Unlock Potential of City's Riverfront

June 05, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

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

An architect's rendering depicts the former Penn-McKee Hotel as part of a shopping and entertainment district attached to McKeesport's waterfront. (Nina Chase/Merritt Chase Architects via Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh)

Download sections of the marketing and feasibility study (PDF reader required)

Up to $141 million in tourism money that could be spent in McKeesport is leaving the area, and at least part of that could be captured along the city's riverfront if the right attractions were in place.

That's according to a study of the area around the Penn-McKee Hotel that was done for city officials by the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh.

The report concludes that reusing the long-vacant hotel is "costly" but feasible, and recommends that funds be raised to mitigate environmental problems, prevent the building from further deterioration, and make it more presentable to investors.

The study was released Tuesday night during the regularly scheduled city council meeting and is available for viewing at the mayor's office.

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Cheerleader Moms Urge MASD to Review Disciplinary Policies

May 30, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: News

Faced with mothers complaining their daughters were being bullied in a cheerleading program and that discipline handed out is unduly harsh, McKeesport Area school board members have agreed to take a look at policies and rules governing all athletic programs in the district.

None of the cheerleading coaches were at May's school board meeting, but plenty of complaints were lodged by mothers who said their daughters had suffered from what they called bullying.

One mother, Amanda Webb, said she had a problem with the way her ninth-grade daughter was dismissed from the squad by a fellow student.

Webb said her daughter practiced with the squad all summer and “they just threw her away.”

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School Tax Increase Possible for MASD Residents

May 28, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: News

McKeesport Area School District residents face a possible increase in property taxes next year.

At last week's meeting, the school board approved a preliminary 2019-20 budget of $69.1 million.

The millage rate is currently 19.48 and would increase 0.68 mills to 20.16. A property assessed at $50,000 would see its taxes increase by about $34 per year.

In other business, school directors congratulated Colin Lyons for coming in second place in the discus throwing competition category at the WPIAL AAA Championships on May 16. Lyons threw for 146-feet-5-inches, School Director Ivan Hampton reported on behalf of the athletic committee.

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McKeesport School Board OK's Police Chief, Officer Positions

May 28, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: Crime and Police News, News

McKeesport Area School District officials have approved the hiring of a police chief and police officer for the 2019-20 school year.

At last week’s school board meeting, school directors also voted to approve a $55,000 annual salary for the police chief and $50,000 for a police officer. School Directors Mindy Sturgess and David Donato left the meeting prior to the vote.

Currently, the district contracts with the City of McKeesport for a school resource officer.

“This is no reflection on our current SRO, who has done an outstanding job for many years,” said Mark Holtzman Jr., district superintendent. “It's an opportunity to have our own police department and save some money down the road.”

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Intermodal Facility Coming to City's Waterfront; 50 Jobs Expected

May 15, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

An intermodal facility employing 50 people will be built on 18 acres of the former U.S. Steel National Works near the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge. (Tube City Almanac photo)

A Braddock-based network of companies that operates steel recycling, transportation and materials-handing businesses is building an intermodal facility on McKeesport's riverfront.

City officials and Regional Industrial Development Corp. have broken their silence about plans to create the truck, barge and railroad loading and unloading facility near the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge.

Work began several weeks ago when cranes and a barge appeared on the Monongahela River, but the tenant was not identified until Wednesday.

A new company, River Materials Inc., will use about 18 acres of the former U.S. Steel National Works site for warehousing, processing and recycling and intends to construct buildings for offices, storage and light manufacturing, as well as a railroad car and barge remediation facility, according to a press release.

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Gift, Grant Aid Effort to Reopen Wilmerding Y

May 14, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News, North Versailles Twp. News

Celebrating a gift of $75,000 to the Wilmerding Community Center from Allegheny Petroleum Products Co. are CEO Jim Kudis and President Barb Kudis, state Rep. Brandon Markosek, Wilmerding Community Center board member Peter McGinty, Wilmerding Mayor Greg Jakub and state Sen. Jim Brewster. (Submitted photo courtesy Allegheny Petroleum Products Co.)

An effort to reopen the former YMCA in Wilmerding has gotten a big boost from a local business.

Allegheny Petroleum Products Co. has pledged $75,000 over three years to the new Wilmerding Community Center Inc. The gift was announced Friday.

Organizers are hoping the former YMCA will reopen this August --- on or about the one year anniversary of its closure.

Barb Kudis, president of Allegheny Petroleum, says the company hopes its gift spurs other donations. The 32-year-old company has been headquartered in Wilmerding for all but five years of its existence.

"We're a big supporter of the community," she says. "We have a lot of employees in the area, and the Wilmerding area has been a good partner of ours for many years."

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New Writers Group Aims to Inspire, Connect Local Creators

May 13, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Photojournalist Martha Rial will lead a series of story-telling workshops at the former Daily News Building beginning this Tuesday. (Tube City Almanac photo)

The old newsroom of the McKeesport Daily News will echo once again with the sounds of writers and photographers working on their story-telling skills.

But many of the stories they tell will likely be personal ones --- and they'll be working in formats that many newspaper employees never got a chance to experiment with.

"Tube City Writers" will hold its first organizational meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday on the second floor of the building at 409 Walnut St., now called the Tube City Center for Business and Innovation.

Martha Rial, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1998, will lead the meetings, along with author Nicole Peeler, an associate professor at Seton Hill University in Greensburg.

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