Mayor Announces Ambitious 2018 Plans for Paving, Blight Removal

December 06, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

McKeesport officials will embark on an ambitious plan to demolish 150 to 200 homes and pave long-neglected streets, Mayor Michael Cherepko said Wednesday night.

Addressing city council before it voted on the 2018 budget, Cherepko said the "McKeesport Rising" project is intended to leverage the proceeds of the $159 million sale of the city's sewerage authority to Pennsylvania-American Water Co.

That sale of the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport is expected to close before the end of the year, the mayor said, and should net taxpayers more than $40 million.

"I think it's only appropriate to manage that money as carefully as possible to last as long as possible," Cherepko said, but added that next year's budget also includes $2.5 million earmarked toward capital projects, including blight removal and street paving.

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Trail Town Head: Communities Must Embrace Bike Visitors to Gain Full Benefit

December 06, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Above: Elected officials led by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald enter McKeesport during a tour of the Great Allegheny Passage in September. Tube City Almanac file photo)

A biking-hiking trail like the Great Allegheny Passage is an economic development opportunity for the communities it passes through --- but only if those towns capitalize on it.

And, said David Kahley, president and CEO of the Greensburg-based Progress Fund, McKeesport hasn't exploited the Great Allegheny Passage to its fullest potential.

The Progress Fund runs the Trail Town Program, which over the past 10 years has invested in 65 small businesses employing 250 people along the "GAP" trail between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Md.

"McKeesport has been problematic for us," Kahley said during an interview for Tube City Community Media's radio show, "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes," which airs Sundays on WEDO (810), WZUM (1550) and Internet station WMCK.FM, and is also available as a free podcast.

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Phase 1 of Transit Center Makeover Complete; Agency Looks Ahead

December 04, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

With Phase 1 of a makeover of the McKeesport Transportation Center complete, officials at Port Authority of Allegheny County are making plans and raising money to begin Phase 2.

The first phase included demolition of the dilapidated and mostly unused combination bus and train station, addition of 36 new park-and-ride spaces, and new sidewalks, curbs and bus lanes, says Adam Brandolph, spokesman for the agency. It also included new comfort stations --- restrooms --- for transit operators, he says.

"Phase 2 is going to focus on site improvements and is supposed to be much more expansive than the first phase, but we just don't right now have specific details, or a cost estimate," Brandolph says.

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Four Hurt as Fire Guts Grandview Home

November 30, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Editor's Note: This story will be updated with additional details, when available. Corrected at 5 p.m. Updated, 11 p.m. with comments from the Allegheny County Fire Marshal's Office.

Four people, including a McKeesport police officer, were hurt Thursday morning when fire swept through a house in the 2700 block of Grandview Avenue.

None of the injuries are believed to be serious, said McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik, but the house is "likely a total loss." The family that lives there --- two adults and two children --- is presently homeless, according to rescue workers.

Allegheny County Chief Fire Marshal Matt Brown said the cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Neighbors called 9-1-1 at 6:46 a.m. to report the blaze in a two-story wood frame house at the corner of Grandview and York streets.

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Veteran's Exhibit at Heritage Center is a Community Effort

November 29, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

It's a permanent exhibit that's constantly changing.

"To Honor Those Who Served," unveiled this month at the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center, is a video tribute to veterans from throughout the Mon-Yough area that also includes stories and thank-you messages from local schoolchildren.

More than 70 veterans' names and photos are currently featured, says Robyn Tedesco, executive director of the museum and historical society located in Renziehausen Park, and she's hopeful that new ones will be added every month. Already, another 20 are ready to be included in the next update, she says.

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City Takes Ownership of Former Daily News Building

November 28, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

The plywood is coming off of the windows as soon as possible, McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko promises.

After that, city officials will begin the job of cleaning up the former headquarters of the McKeesport Daily News and readying it for tenants. "Then we start lining up what we want to do," Cherepko said Tuesday. "We don't want to close any windows of opportunity."

Ownership of the building was transferred Tuesday from the parent company of the Tribune-Review to the city's Redevelopment Authority. The possible sale of the building by Trib Total Media to the city was first reported Nov. 1.

The building was donated, said state Sen. Jim Brewster, who has been negotiating with the Tribune-Review for months.

"I think it's wonderful on their part," Brewster said Tuesday night. "We're excited, and very thankful to Trib Total Media and (the company's CEO) Jennifer Bertetto for giving this back to the city."

A formal ribbon-cutting has not yet been scheduled.

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Campus' 'Free Store' Offers Helping Hand --- No Price Tag Attached

November 19, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News, White Oak News

(Brooke Doerfler photo courtesy Penn State Greater Allegheny)

A new store opened on the McKeesport-White Oak border last week and attracted nearly 40 customers on its first day. And yet it didn't bring in a dime in sales.

Of course, it wasn't supposed to.

The new "Free Store" on the campus of Penn State Greater Allegheny is an outgrowth of the five-year-old Free Store 15104 in Braddock, which takes surplus and donated items and redistributes them to people in need. In 2015, a similar "Free Store" opened in Wilkinsburg.

The Greater Allegheny store, located at the rear of the Frable Building, is totally student-run and is the first on a college campus, says Erin O'Malley, interim director of student affairs.

O'Malley is from North Braddock and is involved with Braddock's Partnership for a Better Community, so she's seen that borough's Free Store up-close and personal.

Shortly after new Chancellor Jacqueline Edmondson arrived in McKeesport, O'Malley introduced her to Giselle Fetterman, founder of the Free Store 15104.

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Friends Salute Dedication of 91-Year-Old Meals Volunteer

November 17, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News, White Oak News

Helen Stratigos, treasurer for McKeesport Meals-on-Wheels, talks with longtime volunteer Lou Zell before a tribute luncheon on Friday as fellow volunteer Chuck Jarrell looks on. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)

For 34 years, neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stayed Lou Zell from his appointed rounds as a letter carrier in McKeesport and White Oak.

And when he retired in 1983, he just kept on delivering --- "Meals-on-Wheels" to elderly residents of McKeesport, White Oak, Port Vue and the surrounding area, every day, five days a week, for another 33 years.

On Friday, White Oak Mayor Ina Jean Marton and Zell's fellow Meals-on-Wheels volunteers saluted his dedication during a luncheon at the Point Pleasant Retirement Community in North Versailles Twp.

"We do meals on wheels so people like you don't have to live here!" Zell, now 91, joked with residents, before sheepishly apologizing to the retirement community's staff, standing nearby.

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'Multiple' Pollution Violations at Braddock's E.T., Say Health Dept., EPA

November 14, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photo: "Edgar Thomson looms" by Dan Buczynski via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

U.S. Steel is in violation of what health department officials called "multiple" air quality regulations at its Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock and North Braddock, an Allegheny County official said Tuesday.

The violations stretch back to February 2016 and continued into 2017, said Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.

"These violations must stop," Hacker said in a prepared statement. "U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson Plant must come into compliance to improve the air quality for the health of all county residents. The health of our county is paramount."

The department, in a joint effort with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, has served the company with a Notice of Violation, she said.

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Boil-Water Order Lifted for Mon Valley, South Hills

November 08, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: News

About 100,000 people in the Mon Valley, South Hills and Washington County can drink up --- water, of course.

Pennsylvania-American Water Co. has lifted a boil-water advisory that affected customers in 55 municipalities, including Clairton, Dravosburg, Elizabeth, Elizabeth Twp., Forward Twp., Glassport, Jefferson Hills, Liberty, Lincoln and West Elizabeth, as well as Finleyville, Union Twp., Monongahela and New Eagle.

"Acceptable test results were obtained from samples collected on (Monday and Tuesday), and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has authorized lifting of the advisory," said Melissa Walters, a spokeswoman for the utility.

The boil-water advisory was issued Monday evening after PAWC technicians noticed that water samples had become "turbid," or cloudy. Water company officials said that turbidity in water can allow dangerous bacteria, viruses or other harmful organisms to flourish.

The cause of the problem has not yet been announced.

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