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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Craig Street Neighbors Beg for Relief from 'Terrorism'

November 03, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Neighbors from the Craig Street area --- some afraid of being identified for fear of retaliation --- came to McKeesport City Council Wednesday night to beg for relief from what one called "domestic terrorism."

They say that gun play centered around one house in the 1400 block has become a common occurrence, both at night and in broad daylight, including this past Sunday afternoon.

"We're being held hostage in our own houses," said one neighbor, "B." (Editor's note: Tube City Almanac is voluntarily withholding the names of the people who spoke to protect them and their families.) "It's like domestic terrorism --- it's bad. There are bullet holes everywhere. If you guys can't do something about this, I've got to move."

The shootings were the topic of a news story Tuesday on Pittsburgh's WPXI-TV (11).

Both neighbors and McKeesport police say the shootings are targeting one particular house on the block, where a tenant's boyfriend is suspected of criminal activity. Police Chief Bryan Washowich said he was not at liberty to identify the house, or the suspected activity.

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New Penn State Mom Discovers Family History at Nearby Center

October 19, 2016 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: News

(Conflict of Interest Warning: See note at the end of this story.)

While newly minted college freshman Jonathan Doonan attended orientation at Penn State Greater Allegheny, his mom, Michelle Doonan, went off on a tour of the nearby McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center.

He was discovering classes, academic programs, clubs and sports teams available at the local Penn State campus. She was discovering a piece of her family history.

By chance, Michelle Doonan met a woman --- Pat Begandy, a volunteer tour guide at the center --- whose husband had served with her own grandfather during World War II.

“I couldn’t believe it! It was a wonderful coincidence that I would happen to meet this woman at the center, and she knew of my grandfather,” Doonan said.

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City Seeks Funds for New Intersection at Long Run, Walnut

October 14, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

McKeesport officials are asking for state funding to reconstruct the heavily traveled intersection of state routes 48 and 148.

Meanwhile, the nearby neighborhood is about to have another new tenant: A new O'Reilly Auto Parts store is likely to be built at the former site of Chick's Grill.

City council in September approved a request to the Commonwealth Financing Authority's Multimodal Transportation Fund for a grant of $334,000 to improve the traffic flow and add signals to the intersection where Walnut Street meets Long Run Road.

"Anyone who travels those roads knows it's tough to get out of there," McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said. "This is a chance to redesign the entire intersection."

New signals and turning lanes also would speed the opening of a partially completed shopping center that's been under construction along the west side of Walnut Street for nearly a decade.

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Council Agrees to Finance Pension Fund Repayment

October 11, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

McKeesport will borrow $4.9 million to fix what the state auditor general called "a costly mistake" and to fully fund its pension plans.

The new debt will be incurred despite the fact that the city received $5 million from Pennsylvania-American Water Company as a pre-payment toward the sale of its sewerage authority.

Penn-American's pre-payment has been put into the bank, Mayor Mike Cherepko said, and he would like it to stay there. "We have to continue to operate as if we're broke, because we are," he said.

In June, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said that McKeesport took more than $729,000 in state funding that was earmarked toward aiding the city's pension plans, and spent it instead on general operating expenses.

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Attorney Charged in Connection with Mon Valley Gambling Ring

October 06, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A Pittsburgh attorney who state investigators say was part of a self-proclaimed "Super PAC" run by accused video poker czar Ronald "Porky" Melocchi now faces criminal charges of his own.

Louis F. Caputo, 39, of Peters Twp., Washington County, was arraigned today before Magisterial District Judge Tom Swan in West Deer Twp. on charges of illegal use of gambling devices, criminal solicitation of gambling devices and criminal conspiracy.

He remains free on his own recognizance pending a formal arraignment Nov. 28 in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

State Attorney General Bruce R. Beemer said that according to a grand jury investigation, Caputo, a liquor license attorney, and state Rep. Marc Gergely of White Oak were part of what Melocchi called his "Super PAC," meaning political action committee.

Gergely, 46, was charged Feb. 25 with being associated of a corrupt organization, conspiracy to operate illegal gambling devices, criminal attempt to operate illegal gambling devices, dealing in the proceeds of illegal activities, and accepting illegal cash contributions to an election campaign.

Gergely is running for re-election. He is being challenged in the Nov. 8 general election by McKeesport city Councilwoman Fawn Walker-Montgomery, who won the Republican nomination as a write-in.

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City Police Officer Fired After Social Media Post

September 27, 2016 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

* CORRECTION, NOT PERFECTION: See editor's note.

A probationary police officer who had worked for the City of McKeesport for only a few weeks was fired Tuesday after a photo she posted on social media -- which included a racial slur --- went viral.

The police officer, identified by other sources as Melissa Adamson, was terminated immediately, Mayor Michael Cherepko said.

On Tuesday, a Facebook user shared a photo from the Snapchat online service that apparently originated from Adamson's account. The photo showed Adamson in a Pitcairn police department uniform with the caption, "I'm the law today n---a." *

Adamson is white. The photo spread quickly via Facebook and was picked up by Pittsburgh television stations, as well as national media outlets.

"This post displays a degree of conduct and character that is far different from what I would expect from an officer in this city," Cherepko said Tuesday night. "It is absolutely unacceptable."

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