Filmmaker Explores Jewish Roots, Heritage in McKeesport

September 12, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Documentary filmmaker Sam Zolten has turned his camera lens on a variety of subjects over the past 40 years, many of them as part of the industrial filmmaking company he operates in Bala Cynwyd, outside Philadelphia.

One of his films --- 2002's "Just Call Me Kade," the story of a transgender boy in Tucson, Ariz., has been widely used as a teaching tool around the country.

Now, the McKeesport native and Temple University graduate is focusing on a much more personal subject --- the story of Jewish families, such as his own, who emigrated to McKeesport beginning in the 19th century.

"It's a labor of love," Zolten said.

Zolten has interviewed more than 140 people for his upcoming feature-length documentary, "Missing McKeesport," and has raised more than $17,000 through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter.

Zolten, who is working with associate editor James T. Rowland, has eight more days to reach the $18,000 goal necessary to complete the movie.

 
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Sewerage System Sale Valued at $156M

September 12, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

The company buying McKeesport's sewerage authority and its three wastewater treatment plants has put a value on the sale of $156 million.

In a joint press release, city officials and Pennsylvania American Water Company said the final price is subject to a complete appraisal of the system, which serves 22,000 customers in 12 municipalities.

Last week, the board of the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport joined McKeesport City Council in voting in favor of the sale of the authority's assets to Pennsylvania American.

The sale is subject to approval by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the state Department of Environmental Protection. Kathy L. Pape, president of Pennsylvania American, said the company expects to close on the sale in the second half of 2017, pending those approvals.

 
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Council Moves Forward With Sewerage Authority Sale

September 07, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Correction added, 11:57 a.m. Sept. 8, 2016)

With no controversy, McKeesport City Council on Wednesday took the first step toward selling the city's sewerage authority to Pennsylvania-American Water Company.

By 6-0 vote, with Councilwoman LuEthel Nesbit abstaining, councilors authorized the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport to enter into a sales agreement with the water company. Nesbit is a member of the municipal authority's board. The authority board will meet on Thursday to consider the deal; Nesbit said Wednesday she will abstain from voting there, as well.

In a separate vote, council also accepted a $5 million advance payment from Penn-American. If for any reason the sale isn't consummated, the city will be required to repay the money, Cherepko said.

Although the final sale price of the sewerage authority isn't yet known, its outstanding debts --- including some $62.5 million spent recently to upgrade and expand the system --- top $90 million, city officials have said.

In a prepared statement, Kathy Pape, president of Penn-American, said Wednesday night that the company was "pleased" with city council's decision and was looking forward to the authority's vote on Thursday.

 
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City Council May Take Steps to Sell Sewerage Authority

September 06, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

In a long expected move, McKeesport City Council on Wednesday night is expected to take the first steps toward selling the city's sewerage authority.

At a council work session on Tuesday, Mayor Michael Cherepko said the city has received two competing proposals to purchase the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport, which also serves customers in Dravosburg, Duquesne, East McKeesport, Elizabeth Twp., Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln, North Versailles Twp., Port Vue, Versailles and White Oak.

Cherepko has recommended to council that the city accept a proposal from Pennsylvania-American Water Co. The exact sale price has yet to be determined pending an appraisal and an analysis of outstanding debts owed by the sewerage authority, but it will be in excess of $90 million, said J. Jason Elash, city solicitor.

"As a ratepayer and as a taxpayer, I would say there are more pros than cons," Cherepko said. "In fact, I see very few cons."

 
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Local Penn State Students Donate Time to Renovate Houses

September 01, 2016 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: News

The vision of Penn State Greater Allegheny is to always care for and advance the success of its students and communities. 

Each year, on several early Saturday mornings, students from the McKeesport-based campus have helped their community by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh. The tradition of students helping to build houses will continue this year as students gear up to volunteer three days this fall. 

Glenn Beech, director of student affairs, takes the students on these trips, and he has been impressed with the enthusiasm the students show when helping their local community.

“I am so proud of each of the students who, unselfishly, gives up entire Saturdays to participate in a community service project for a community in which they are a part of, only because they are studying here," Beech said. "This act of kindness, on their part, demonstrates to me that they are members of a caring and compassionate generation that is striving for a better future for all of us.”

 
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Duquesne VFW Folds After Nearly A Century Of Service

August 31, 2016 |

By Mike Mauer | Posted in: News

After nearly a century of service to Duquesne, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 188 Raymond C. Burns is no more. Citing declining membership and dwindling finances, the post turned in its charter following a meeting with VFW District 29 officials Tuesday.

The physical trappings of a once active post were still there at the close of the meeting.  A 57 mm anti-tank gun made in 1942 graced the outside of the building.  A memorial dedicated to local servicemembers lost in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam was in the foyer directly across from the main entrance.

But this history ended after VFW Post 188 Commander Elizabeth Salvador banged her gavel to close the organization’s final vote.  Roughly one dozen of the unit’s remaining members voted unanimously to turn in the charter.

 
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Colleagues Remember McLaughlin as Tough, Fair

August 26, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Above: Rege McLaughlin is shown in McKeesport city hall shortly after being sworn in as mayor in 2010. (Tube City Online file photo.)

. . .

McKeesport is "a good town, but a tough town," said state Sen. Jim Brewster, and former Mayor Rege McLaughlin was tough "both physically and mentally."

"I think he would like to be remembered as a guy who was willing to help anybody, but who didn't take any guff from anyone," said Brewster of McLaughlin, who died Tuesday at age 82 in a hospice in Mt. Lebanon.

Persons close to McLaughlin said the former mayor and city council president was suffering a recurrence of prostate cancer.

"Rege worked in the mill, so he knew what it was like to work hard," said Brewster, who served with McLaughlin on city council. "He had owned his own business. He was a family man. So there wasn't much that you could tell him that he didn't know something about."

McLaughlin's death is "a sad day for McKeesport," said Mayor Mike Cherepko, who also served with McLaughlin on city council and succeeded him as mayor.

"Rege was obviously a true public servant," Cherepko said. "He did whatever he could to make McKeesport a better place to live and work, and he was very well respected, not just in his capacity as mayor, but because he had such deep ties to the community."

 
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Fade Out: Southland 9 Cinemas Closed

August 26, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Above: Unidentified Southland 9 employees pose on the theater's last day. Photo via Facebook.)

Less than four months after the opening of the new Century Square Luxury Cinemas in West Mifflin, an older multiplex at nearby Southland Four Seasons Shopping Center has closed.

Georgia-based Carmike Cinemas has closed the Southland 9 theaters in Pleasant Hills, located behind the shopping center on Route 51. An announcement on the theater's Facebook page said the closing was effective yesterday.

The Southland 9's page on the Carmike website was deleted overnight.

Gina McKenzie, a spokeswoman for Carmike, said in an emailed statement Friday afternoon that members of the Carmike Cinemas rewards program and owners of annual popcorn buckets may continue to use them at the Galleria 6 in Mt. Lebanon and the Carmike 10 at South Hills Village. Both are less than 10 miles from Southland.

McKenzie declined comment on how many Southland 9 employees were affected by the closure, and whether any of them were offered jobs at other theaters.

 
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Air Force C-130 to Appear at West Mifflin Community Day Sept. 10

August 23, 2016 |

By Mike Mauer | Posted in: News

A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules --- similar to this one shown flying above Pittsburgh's Mt. Washington --- will take center stage when West Mifflin celebrates its community day Sept. 10 at Allegheny County Airport.

One of a line of transport aircraft that have supported U.S. military personnel since 1957, the venerable C-130 will join dozens of local community groups, a live radio broadcast and performances by The Bel Airs and the North Side Kids at West Mifflin Community Day.

Refreshment booths will sell pork, ribs and chicken from Bad Azz BBQ, while various vendors, including non-profit groups and athletic teams, will supply other foods and beverages. Hours are 12 noon to 6 p.m.

 
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Village Returns With New Performers, New Night for Fireworks

August 08, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Denise L. Ritter photo

Tube City Almanac file photo by Denise L. Ritter

. . .

One of Western Pennsylvania's largest and longest-running ethnic festivals returns for its 57th consecutive year with many old favorites and a few new elements.

McKeesport's International Village will be held Aug. 16, 17 and 18 at Stephen Barry Field in Renziehausen Park, next to Penn State University's Greater Allegheny Campus and near McKeesport Area High School. Gates open each day at 3 p.m. and main stage entertainment begins at 6 p.m.

As in past years, a $2 donation is requested at the gate from visitors.

Gates and booths will close at 9 p.m. this year.

In addition, the fireworks display that has typically closed the three-day festival has been moved to opening night --- Tuesday --- as part of a lineup of entertainment that also will include the William Penn Magyar Folk Dancers, the Trafford Junior Tamburitzans, the Grecian Odyssey Dancers, the Saint Nicholas Junior Tamburitzans and a Lebanese bellydancer, as well as entertainment representing the traditions of Kenya.

Music for dancing will be provided in the Jakomas Blue-Top Pavilion, beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday, by the group Stari Drugovi, presented by the Swedish booth.

 
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