County Identifies Victim of Munhall High-Rise Fire

December 16, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office has identified the victim of a fire that swept through a Munhall senior citizen high rise on Friday morning.

Richard Miller, 61, was pronounced dead at the scene of the blaze at Parkview Towers on Caroline Drive.

The fire in the seven-story building, owned by a corporation affiliated with the United Methodist Church, was reported just before 5 a.m. and took two hours to bring under control.

More than 20 fire companies from as far away as Westmoreland County were called to the scene, which forced the evacuation of 80 people, some of them with serious disabilities, county officials said.

Seven residents of the building suffered minor injuries and were taken to local hospitals, said Matt Brown, chief of Allegheny County emergency services, and three Munhall police officers had to be treated for smoke inhalation after they helped evacuate the building.

 
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One Person Dead After Munhall Apartment Building Fire

December 16, 2016 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

A resident was found dead, and about 90 people were evacuated, following a fire at a senior-citizen high-rise apartment building in Munhall.

The fire at Parkview Tower on Caroline Street was reported just before 5 a.m., said Allegheny County Emergency Services Chief Matt Brown. Firefighters arrived five minutes after the initial 9-1-1 alarm and discovered the blaze on the seventh floor of the building was spreading to the roof.

A "mass casualty" incident was declared and additional emergency crews were summoned to help evacuate the elderly residents, many of whom have disabilities and use walkers and canes, Brown said.
 
Seven people were taken to area hospitals and one person was found dead at the scene. Brown said he could not release the person's name or where, exactly, they were found in the building.

The cause of the fire is unknown and remains under investigation, he said.

 
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Second Kane Resident Tests Positive for Legionnella Bacteria

December 15, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A second resident of Kane Regional Center in McKeesport has tested positive for the bacteria that causes Legionnaire's disease.

Dennis Biondo, executive director of the county's four* care homes for the elderly and disabled, said the infected resident has lived at Kane McKeesport since July.

"At this point, the source of the infection is unknown, but Kane McKeesport staff are working with the Health Department to actively identify any source and take appropriate remedial action," Biondo said Wednesday.

In November, county officials said that a resident of Kane McKeesport was taken to the hospital Oct. 24 and tested positve for Legionella, a water-borne bacteria that can cause a serious respiratory disease called Legionnaires' Disease.

Legionella bacteria breed in water and air conditioning systems. Most people exposed to the bacteria do not become ill, but people who are elderly or have compromised immune systems are at risk of serious infection.

 
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Fire at Marina Damages Five Boats

December 12, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

City and Allegheny County police and the Allegheny County Fire Marshal's Office are investigating a blaze early Monday morning that damaged five boats stored near the McKee's Point Marina.

At least three of the boats appear to be total losses, McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik said.

Just after 2:30 a.m., a caller to Allegheny County 9-1-1 reported hearing an "explosion" in the vicinity of Strawberry Alley and Sixth Avenue. The caller looked out the window and saw flames.

McKeesport firefighters responded and found several boats --- large cabin-cruiser type boats --- fully engulfed, Tomovcsik said.

 
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City's 2017 Budget Includes Property Tax Increase

December 07, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

McKeesport City Council is preparing to do something it hasn't done in 25 years --- enact a property tax increase.

At a budget hearing Tuesday night, Mayor Mike Cherepko presented the city's proposed 2017 budget, including tax increases of 2 mills each on buildings and land.

That would take the city's property tax on buildings to 6.26 mills and on land to 18.5 mills.

The increase is expected to generate about $689,000 in additional revenue in 2017. "I don't want to do this," Cherepko said. "What politician wants to raise taxes? But the right choice is not always the popular choice."

The tax increase wasn't popular with the handful of residents who attended the hearing. Ken Thornton of Fawcett Plan questioned whether the administration and council have cut expenses as deeply as they could.

Cherepko said that approximately 90 percent of the city's expenses are fixed or subject to labor contracts.

"Then maybe you need to lay some people off," Thornton said. "That's what happens in the real world ... I think maybe some concessions need to be made. You can't have these unions run you out of business."

 
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Portion of AIDS Quilt On Display in McKeesport

November 30, 2016 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: News

By Christina Newmyer, Penn State Greater Allegheny

Jon Lutes loved pizza, his Italian mother, and having fun. He had a passion for working with children, travel, and his friends and family. His life, full of love and laughter, was cut short at the age of just 42.

The Monessen native died of AIDS on May 2, 1994.

Now through Dec. 2, a 12-by-12 portion of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, including a panel dedicated to Lutes, is on display in the concourse of the Penn State Greater Allegheny Student Community Center, to commemorate World AIDS Day.

The day also coincides with Jon Lutes’ birthday --- Dec. 1.

Penn State Greater Allegheny Director of Student Affairs Glenn Beech was a friend of Lutes’. They met while attending college at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. The two had several classes together and became friends, as Beech said, due to Lutes’ likeable nature.

 
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West Mifflin Bridge Re-Opens One Day Early

November 23, 2016 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: News

West Mifflin and Duquesne residents got an early holiday present from Allegheny County when the Homeville Bridge re-opened to traffic on Monday --- one day earlier than expected.

The 781-foot-long viaduct, built in the mid-1950s, closed in August 2015 for a $10 million reconstruction project that included replacement and widening of the concrete deck from 26 to 29 feet, a new five-foot wide sidewalk, replacement of the existing hand rail with an 8-foot-tall protective fence, new lighting, structural streel repairs and re-painting of the entire structure.

It was the first major rehabilitation of the bridge since 1981, county officials said.

The bridge is owned by Allegheny County and carries two lanes of traffic and pedestrians over Lower Bull Run, Thompson Run Creek, the Union Railroad and Grant Avenue Extension. About 10,000 vehicles per day used the bridge before the closure, including emergency vehicles, school buses and 400 commercial vehicles.

 
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Port Authority to Demolish McKeesport Bus Station

November 14, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

 

Port Authority of Allegheny County's board is expected to vote this week to demolish the dilapidated bus station on Lysle Boulevard.

It's the first step toward building a new transportation center in McKeesport, and possibly expanding the park-and-ride lot.

The directors of the region's largest transit authority will decide on Friday whether to award a $1.2 million contract to Terra Works Inc. to demolish the McKeesport Transportation Center, build a new restroom facility for bus operators, and repair and replace sidewalks and paving.

The price also includes work to be done at a park-and-ride facility in Ross Twp., north of Pittsburgh.

Port Authority's near-term plans do include construction of a new bus station in McKeesport, but the timetable is unclear, spokesman Adam Brandolph said. "We're definitely getting onto that path, but it's still early," he said.

 
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Pennsylvania AG Sues Nursing Facilities in McKeesport, 10 Other Cities

November 04, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Riverside Care Center in McKeesport at times was so understaffed, a "confidential witness" told investigators from the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, that incontinent residents who needed to be changed were left to lie in their own waste for up to four hours.

When the witness --- a certified nursing assistant, or CNA, who worked at the facility from 2009 to 2012 --- complained to management, she told investigators, she was disciplined.

Those are among the allegations in a 115-page lawsuit filed Thursday in state Commonwealth Court against Pittsburgh-based Grane Healthcare Co. and 11 of its 12 affiliated nursing homes, which include Riverside in McKeesport and Woodhaven Care Center in Monroeville.

Attorney General Bruce Beemer on Friday said the nursing homes failed to provide basic needs --- including hot food --- to elderly and ill residents, made misleading claims in marketing materials, and billed customers for services that were never provided.

"These alleged misrepresentations not only deceived the residents of these facilities, but Grane’s business practices also degraded residents and increased the risk of negative health consequences," Beemer said. "We believe there is ample evidence that these facilities fell far short when it came to providing essential services."

The lawsuit alleges that Grane violated the state's Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law and asks the court to assess penalties against Grane and the nursing homes, and for Grane and the homes to refund money paid to the nursing homes by the state for services which Beemer claims were never provided.

Grane's Pittsburgh office did not respond Friday afternoon to an email from Tube City Almanac seeking comment.

 
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Kane Resident Ill With Legionella; Water Use Restricted

November 03, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Allegheny County officials have restricted water use at Kane Regional Center in McKeesport after a resident tested positive for Legionella bacteria.

Letters have been sent to families of all residents and a new water purification system has been installed at the 360-bed facility, which cares for the elderly and for patients suffering serious debilitating illnesses.

County spokeswoman Amie Downs said Thursday that a resident of Kane McKeesport was taken to an area hospital on Oct. 24 and tested positive for Legionella, a water-borne bacteria that can cause a serious respiratory disease called Legionnaires' Disease.

 
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