Bus Woes Leave Districts, Parents Frustrated

October 18, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Parked school buses sit idle near Chicago. (John Picken photo via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0)


After weeks of cancellations that have stranded hundreds of students, McKeesport Area School District and its school bus provider are operating under an agreement being monitored by an Allegheny County judge.

But McKeesport students aren’t the only ones who have found the beginning of the 2021-22 school year to be a bumpy ride.

On Monday, as part of School Bus Safety Week, the state Department of Transportation released a public service announcement from Rick Focht of Clearfield County-based Fullington Trailways Co. appealing for more drivers.

“Students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely riding on a school bus than in a private car. And the drivers are skilled professionals,” Focht said.

“Unfortunately there is a shortage of school bus drivers,” he said, urging viewers to contact their local school bus providers or school districts for information about employment: “It just might be the best job you never knew you would love.”

 
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Former Murphy Warehouse Sold to Wisc. Group

October 18, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(File photo)


A Wisconsin-based investment group is purchasing the former G.C. Murphy Co. distribution center in Christy Park and plans to “immediately commence upgrades to the facility to accommodate new tenant occupancy.”

Phoenix Investors LLC announced Monday that it will purchase the 627,000-square-foot facility, which stretches over 36 acres between 28th and 35th avenues.

The building has been occupied since 1995 by Magic Creations, which manufactures and distributes plastic housewares and other items to discount stores. The company will continue to occupy a portion of the facility, Anthony Crivello, executive vice president of Phoenix Investors, told Tube City Almanac.

Terms of the deal are not yet being disclosed, Crivello said.

 
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Tiger Band Hosts Competition Saturday

October 14, 2021 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Drum major Josh Wos leads the Tiger Marching Band in fine tuning "SOLARbration!" for its exhibition at the Oct. 16 home show. (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac)


After months of preparation, McKeesport Band, Orchestra, and Guard Boosters will host the Tournament of Bands Competition home show on Saturday.

It will feature performances by 10 high school bands and and exhibition by the home band of its popular “SOLARbration!” The show starts at 5 p.m. at Weigle-Schaffer Stadium, 1960 Eden Park Blvd.

“This season has been a very memorable one with the return of band competitions and our home show showcasing the music talents of so many young people,” McKeesport Area High School Tiger Marching Band director Drew DeCarlo said.

 
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Vacant Houses Sap Energy from Residents

October 12, 2021 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Robin Marshall-Kelly points out the overgrowth in the empty lot next to her home on North Grandview Avenue. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)


See also: City Continues Fight Against Blight


For many residents of McKeesport, the battle against blight is one worth fighting, even though the struggle can feel overwhelming at times.

“Help us stay in McKeesport,” said Robin Marshall-Kelly, a North Grandview Avenue homeowner. “I own my home, and with all the abandoned properties, sometimes, I feel like I’m losing.”

Jackie Blake has lived in McKeesport for 27 years and owns her home in Grandview.

“My friends keep asking me when am I going to move, but I have too much invested in my home,” Blake said. “I don’t want to move.”

 
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Fight Against Blight is City’s ‘Biggest Challenge’

October 12, 2021 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko: “You have to attack this issue from every angle and focus on what will have the greatest impact on the city as a whole.” The blight removal program has received “an overwhelming amount of positive feedback,” he says. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)


See also: Vacant Houses Sap Energy from Longtime Residents


When Mike Cherepko was elected mayor of McKeesport in 2011, he knew he wanted to fulfill his campaign motto “Working Together for a Better McKeesport” specifically by cleaning up blight.

Traditionally defined as the decline of an urban area due to neglect or age, blight is one of the key issues facing the Cherepko administration.

“Blight is any structure that becomes an eyesore, or poses a health or fire risk – like rodents, mold or weeds,” Cherepko said. “It’s my biggest challenge as mayor.”

 
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Davis Urges Residents to Get Vaccinated

October 07, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

State Rep. Austin Davis speaks about the COVID-19 vaccine during a press conference April 8 at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Downtown. (Submitted photo courtesy state Rep. Austin Davis)


The 35th Legislative District has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in Pennsylvania, state Rep. Austin Davis said Wednesday.

Davis, who has represented the district since 2018, urged residents who have not yet been vaccinated to get their shots.

“We simply cannot afford to repeat a surge of the virus like last winter and put even more stress on our healthcare providers, businesses, schools and communities, which have already been through so much in the last 18 months,” Davis said.

 
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Bus Company, School District Trade Accusations

October 07, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Area School District and Pennsylvania Coach Lines traded accusations this week in their ongoing dispute over the bus company’s inability to provide enough drivers on certain routes.

Attorneys for both sides were scheduled to present arguments Thursday before Allegheny County Judge Arnold Klein in Pittsburgh.

In a court filing Tuesday, attorneys for Pennsylvania Coach Lines accused the school district of deliberately trying to breach its contract with the bus company.

The district responded Wednesday by again asking Klein to grant its motion for an emergency injunction.

 
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Shelter CEO Says City Isn’t Being Supportive

October 07, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The head of a McKeesport-based charity that helps homeless men struggling with drug and alcohol addiction told city council on Wednesday his agency is not receiving the local support it needs.

During a public comment period, Keith Giles, founder and chief executive officer of First Step Recovery Homes Inc., said he has asked several times for financial support from city officials and the McKeesport Community Fund — a charitable foundation on which several city officials serve — without a response.

“Please understand that we at First Step have been hanging on by a thread,” Giles said. “We are a viable entity in the city, and want to continue our much-needed service, but financial assistance is much needed.”

But Mayor Michael Cherepko told Giles the city has responded to First Step’s requests. “You just didn’t like what I had to say,” he said.

 
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Demolition Set for Fifth Ave. Buildings

October 06, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Conflict of Interest Note: The author of this story has a conflict of interest. See editor’s note at the end of the story.

These buildings, seen from the McKeesport Transportation Center on Lysle Boulevard, will be demolished under a contract awarded Wednesday by McKeesport city council. (Tube City Almanac file photo)


Seven more buildings in the city’s Downtown business district — including the former G.C. Murphy Co. home office and Helmstadter’s Department Store — are one step closer to the wrecking ball.

McKeesport City Council on Wednesday by 6-0 vote awarded a $644,000 contract to Advanced Builders Inc. of Perryopolis, Fayette County, to demolish 513, 515, 519, 521, 523, 527 and 531 Fifth Ave. Councilman Tim Brown was absent.

“We’re excited to get through this,” McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “This is a contract for probably two-thirds of the block, across the street from city hall. We wanted to rip down the entire block at once, and we have one individual who’s holding us up.”

 
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Penn State Series to Discuss Police Reform

October 06, 2021 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Policing and the community will be the focus of this year’s Crossing Bridges summit at Penn State Greater Allegheny in McKeesport.

The sessions will build off of issues raised in a report delivered by the Community Taskforce for Police Reform, which was convened in 2020 by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

The first session, scheduled for 3 p.m. Oct. 14, will be titled “Examining Police Reform: Conversations about the Pittsburgh Community Taskforce for Police Reform and Its Implications for the Mon Valley.”

 
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