Falling Bricks from Executive Building Force Street Closures

January 08, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photos special to Tube City Almanac)


Parts of two Downtown streets remain closed today after a brick pillar fell from the Executive Building.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko hopes the incident, which occurred last week, is the catalyst that convinces its New York owner to either invest in the troubled office building --- now vacant --- or sell it.

The final tenants moved out of the five-story yellow brick building at the end of last year.

"I'm trying to find out if I can find anyone interested in investing in the building," Cherepko said. "We've not been happy about the situation at all."

The bricks that fell into the sidewalk along Ringgold Street appear to be decorative, not structural, Cherepko said. No one was injured and no other damage was reported.

 
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Sub-Zero Temperatures Keeping Emergency Docs 'Extremely Busy'

January 06, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Above: After two weeks of temperatures hovering in single digits, ice has formed all the way across the Youghiogheny River at McKeesport. A warming trend is expected this week. (Almanac photo)


As temperatures rise above freezing for the first time in two weeks, doctors, nurses and support staff at UPMC McKeesport hospital should receive a slight respite.

Between the bitter cold and the flu season "we've been extremely busy," says Dr. Rani Kumar, who chairs the hospital's emergency department. "We're bursting at the seams sometimes, but we're here to help."

According to the National Weather Service, average temperatures in the Mon-Yough area in December were about 4 degrees below normal. As of this weekend, the last time the temperature in the McKeesport region went above freezing was Dec. 25, when the high recorded at Allegheny County Airport was 33 degrees.

Temperatures dropped below zero for four of the first six days of 2018, according to the weather service in Moon Twp. The average temperature so far for January has been 7 degrees.

 
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PurePenn Declared Operational, As Pa. Officials Blast AG Sessions' Policy Change

January 05, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A medical marijuana production facility in McKeesport has been declared operational by the state Department of Health and has permission to begin growing its first plants within 60 days.

But in the meantime, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and state Sen. Jay Costa of Forest Hills are angry at U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his decision --- which was long rumored to be in the works --- to reverse the Obama Administration's guidance on prosecuting federal marijuana laws, including against medicinal users and growers.

April Hutcheson, communications director at the state Health Department, told Tube City Almanac that PurePenn LLC was inspected and deemed operational on Dec. 22.

The facility, located at the RIDC Industrial Center of McKeesport on the former U.S. Steel National Works site, is now cleared to begin growing cannabis plants from either seeds or "clones" --- essentially, cuttings from other plants --- within 60 days.

 
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Bitter Cold Prompts Shelter Announcements, School Closings

January 04, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

(National Weather Service graphic)


McKeesport Area, Clairton, East Allegheny and South Allegheny schools are closed on Friday as bitterly cold temperatures descend on the Mon-Yough region.

The districts, along with Serra Catholic High School and Mary of Nazareth Catholic School, announced closures on Thursday night, though staff in McKeesport Area will be required to report for a so-called "Act 80" in-service day.

According to the National Weather Service in Moon Twp., the Mon-Yough area will be spared the worst of the blizzard that is bearing down on the New York City area. McKeesport can expect "little or no snow accumulation" over the next few days.

But the winds, and the wind chill, are a different story. The weather service has predicted a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit in McKeesport at 6 a.m. Friday, with winds between 13 and 26 mph that will make the temperature feel like -18 degrees Fahrenheit.

 
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Resident, 86, Says City's People Are 'Wonderful'

January 04, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Hall Park resident George Mushalko told McKeesport City Council on Wednesday that he's tired of hearing the community be disparaged by the media. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)


McKeesport resident George Mushalko gave a passionate defense of his hometown on Wednesday night with the vigor and spirit of someone much younger than his own 86 years.

One of five people presented with citations on behalf of the McKeesport Message Committee, Mushalko took objection to only one thing --- Mayor Michael Cherepko's characterization of him as the "epitome" of a caring person.

"I don't think I'm the epitome of a caring person because I've met a lot of wonderful people in McKeesport," said Mushalko, who was honored for upholding the value of "Respect."

 
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Cold Weather Adds to Fire Calls, Concerns About Space Heaters

January 03, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

(Photo courtesy Your Best Digs, licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).)


Bitterly cold weather has led many people to use space heaters to supplement their regular furnace or boiler. But the American Red Cross and local fire officials are warning that those devices can be dangerous.

"We do see a lot of people overloading circuits using space heaters," McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik says. "It's a general cause of fires this time of year. We also see Christmas tree fires this time of year, too. It's a busy time of year for us."

Dan Tobin, regional spokesman for the American Red Cross in Pittsburgh, says the Western Pennsylvania Region of the agency last year assisted 4,000 people in 1,700 disasters over the past 12 months, and most of them were house fires.

Heating equipment fires are the second-leading cause of house fires, Tobin says, and are responsible for about 19 percent of deaths in residential fires.

 
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Blaze Heavily Damages Versailles Ave. Home, Second Also Affected

January 02, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A fast-moving New Year's Day fire has likely destroyed a home in the 3000 block of Versailles Avenue and caused some damage to a neighboring structure.

Five people were displaced by the blaze, according to the American Red Cross.

McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik said a resident of the home called 9-1-1 to report the blaze at 6:54 p.m. Monday. When the first units arrived at the brick, single-family home near the corner of Versailles and Freemont, the first floor was fully engulfed by fire, the chief said.

"It didn't take long before it spread to the second floor," Tomovcsik said. The volume of fire on the first floor slowed firefighters' progress for some time before they could enter the house, he said.

Extremely cold temperatures also made fighting the fire difficult, Tomovcsik said. According to the National Weather Center in Moon Twp., temperatures dropped to 6 degrees Monday night, with a windchill of -11.

 
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Needy Families Share Bounty as Local Company Gives Back

December 21, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Above: McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko, Big's Sanitation president Joe Eori Jr., and Matt Gergely, assistant to the business manager at McKeesport Area School District, load Christmas hams for delivery to local families on Wednesday. Photo special to Tube City Almanac)


More than two dozen McKeesport families received surprise gifts of Christmas hams on Thursday thanks to a gift from a Rostraver Twp. business.

Joe Eori Jr., president of Big's Sanitation, donated the 28 hams "because I just wanted to give something back," he said.

"My dad was born and raised here and graduated from McKeesport High School," he said. "All of my relatives are from around here. If you have the means to give something back, then everybody should do so."

 
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Mon Yough Chorale Keeps Community Chorus Tradition Alive

December 21, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Above: Members of the Mon Yough Chorale perform during a holiday concert Sunday at Sampson's Mills Presbyterian Church in White Oak. Photos special to Tube City Almanac.)


In the 19th and early 20th century, singing for fun and public entertainment was a common American pastime.

Companies and ethnic clubs like McKeesport's Swedish Singing Society and the Turners (originally known as the Turn und Gesangverein --- the "Gymnastics and Singing Union") sponsored choruses, concerts and even competitions.

Over the years, public singing faded away, and so did most of the community singing groups. But in McKeesport, the Mon Yough Chorale keeps the tradition alive.

The chorale --- now comprised of 35 to 40 volunteer performers under the direction of Ben Filippone --- recently completed a busy December schedule with a concert this past Sunday at Sampson's Mills Presbyterian Church.

Portions of that concert will be broadcast at 8 a.m. Dec. 24 on WEDO (810) and WZUM (1550/101.1), and the full concert will be broadcast at 3 p.m. Dec. 24 on Internet station WMCK.FM.

 
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City Extends Trash Hauler's Contract; Will Explore Providing Its Own Service

December 20, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

McKeesport City Council has extended its contract with Big's Sanitation through the end of 2018.

But Mayor Michael Cherepko said that his administration is exploring whether the city should purchase its own trash trucks and perform the work with its own employees.

"We've talked about it before, and I think we will finally be in a position to do that in 2019," he said.

McKeesport has used private contractors for trash collection since at least the early 1980s. Big's, located in Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland County, has been collecting the city's trash and recycling since January 2015, and also holds refuse collection contracts in neighboring Port Vue, White Oak and North Versailles Twp.

 
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