Rental Property Ordinance Seems Destined for Court Fight

April 05, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

McKeesport's ordinance requiring rental properties to be registered with the city and inspected for safety violations appears to be headed to court again --- and it's a fight officials seem to relish.

City resident Alan Wakefield on Wednesday attended McKeesport's city council meeting to call the ordinance "unconstitutional" and demand officials produce evidence that it's necessary.

It's the second month in a row that Wakefield has challenged city officials over the Regulated Rental Ordinance, which was passed by council in March 2017 on a 4-3 vote.

The ordinance requires rental properties to be registered with the city once per year at a fee of $50. It also requires every apartment or rented house to be inspected by the fire department every two years to ensure that smoke detectors are in place and that fire exits are not blocked.

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City Hopes Renzie Pavilion Renovations Will Be Complete By Memorial Day

April 04, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Renovations will begin soon to five pavilions at Renziehausen Park, in hopes that work will be complete by Memorial Day weekend.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko also confirmed that the dates for the city's annual International Village ethnic festival --- held at Renzie's Stephen Barry Field --- have been set for Aug. 14, 15 and 16.

At Wednesday's meeting, McKeesport City Council by 7-0 vote awarded a $184,750 contract to the lowest responsible bidder, Plavchak Construction Co. of Jefferson Hills, to paint and repair four pavilions and replace their roofs and signage.

In addition, two of the pavilions also will receive new LED lighting, benches and other updates. Funding for the work will come from the Allegheny Regional Asset District.

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Kitchen Fire Forces Midtown Apts. Evacuation; No Injuries

March 29, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Crime and Police News, News

A fire on top of a kitchen stove forced the evacuation Wednesday night of the Midtown Plaza Apartments.

All 131 apartments in the building had to be evacuated and all off-duty McKeesport firefighters were called to the scene, along with volunteers from Glassport and Duquesne Annex.

McKeesport deputy fire Chief Tom Perciavalle said crews were finishing up at a call in the 500 block of Walnut Street just after 10 p.m. when they were dispatched to the senior-citizen high rise.

Firefighters forced entry to a locked second-floor apartment and found it filled with thick, black smoke, Perciavalle said. The residents were not home at the time of the fire.

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Local Residents Participated in Saturday's Anti-Gun Violence March

March 26, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

(All photos: Vickie Babyak, special to Tube City Almanac)

Mon Valley residents joined a crowd estimated at more than 30,000 who took to the streets of downtown Pittsburgh on Saturday to protest gun violence.

The rally was one of dozens held Saturday in cities across the United States --- one source says as many as 450 events were held --- under the banner "March for Our Lives," and organized in the wake of a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., in which 17 people died and another 17 were injured.

All 50 states hosted at least one March for Our Lives rally, with at least 1.2 million people believed to have participated nationwide. A March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., attracted upwards of 200,000 people, according to crowd estimates made from digital photos.

Tube City Almanac correspondent Vickie Babyak attended the Pittsburgh event with a friend from the Mon Valley. "Both of us work with students and have children --- and I have grandchildren," she says. "We are concerned with the violence and the lockdown drills schools put students through because of mass shootings."

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McKeesport Area Schools to Hold Lockdown Drill March 27

March 21, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Crime and Police News, News, White Oak News

McKeesport Area School District will hold a lockdown drill for all of its buildings on Tuesday morning to practice security protocols in the event of an emergency.

Parents are being encouraged to talk to their children before the event to avoid kids being alarmed or panicked, said Mark Holtzman Jr., district superintendent.

The drill was prompted in part by the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., in which 17 people were killed and another 17 wounded, but McKeesport Area officials have "always been concerned about school security," Holtzman said.

Any parent who wants information about the lockdown drill is being asked to call Holtzman's office at (412) 664-3600 or email

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City Seeks Solution for Mansfield Bridge Ramp Flooding

March 14, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Above: McKeesport public works crews clear flooding at the end of the Mansfield Bridge following a severe storm June 13, 2017. (Tube City Almanac file photo)

McKeesport officials are hoping to have a lasting solution this summer to flooding problems that have forced repeated street closures at the southern end of the Mansfield Bridge.

Council this month authorized the administration to seek $255,000 from the state's Small Water and Sewer Program for repairs to a storm sewer under West Fifth Avenue.

The city will be required to match the grant, if received, with at least $45,000 of its own funding, Mayor Michael Cherepko said.

City engineer Jim Garvin said the grant money would initially fund a thorough inspection of the line, so that the scope of the work can be planned out.

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Brewster Calls for Armed Guards in School Buildings

March 09, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photo courtesy state Sen. Jim Brewster)

* UPDATED at 8:35 p.m. with comments from McKeesport Area School District.

State Sen. Jim Brewster on Friday proposed placing armed security guards inside all school buildings in Pennsylvania.

The McKeesport lawmaker, who represents parts of Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, said the recommendation is just one of several proposals he is making that are intended to protect students and teachers from violence.

Last week, Brewster said he was drafting legislation to create an 11-member Statewide School Safety Panel to examine security at Pennsylvania's schools and recommend areas for improvement.

“Students must be better protected,” Brewster said Friday in a prepared statement. “Parents deserve assurance that school buildings are safe and secure environments.”

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No Injuries Reported in Lamont Street Fire

March 09, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A pet cat is credited with alerting two city residents to a fire in the attic of a Lamont Street home.

The Allegheny County Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the blaze, which happened early this morning, but McKeesport Deputy Fire Chief Tom Perciavalle said that it may have been caused by faulty wiring.

Perciavalle said the residents of the home at 2005 Lamont were awakened just before 1:30 a.m. when one of their two cats bolted, frightened, from the bathroom adjoining the upstairs master bedroom.

"They felt it was unusual behavior, because the cat is fairly sedentary," Perciavalle said.

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Plans for Former Daily News Building Move Forward

March 08, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A portion of Kennedy Park on Lysle Boulevard may be removed to provide parking for what is being called the McKeesport Multi-Media Building. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)

McKeesport is aggressively moving forward to prepare the former Daily News Building for new tenants.

At Wednesday's meeting, city council voted 6-0 to apply for a $200,000 grant from Allegheny County's Community Infrastructure & Tourism Fund for renovations and repairs to the building. Councilwoman Jamie Brewster-Filotei was absent.

The first tenants could be moving into the building as early as May, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said.

In addition, city public works crews will probably be turning part of Kennedy Park at the corner of Lysle Boulevard and Walnut Street into a parking area for the building.

The work would not affect the statue of President Kennedy or the plaza around it, Cherepko said, but would require removal of the small fountain at the corner.

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School District Awaits Approval on Possible Tax Increase

March 02, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

McKeesport Area School District is awaiting state approval on a possible 3.42-mill property tax increase that administrators hope won't be necessary.

"I'm sure by the time we're done with this it's not going to be anywhere near that amount," said David Seropian, district business manager.

Under Pennsylvania law, school districts are allowed to enact a property tax increase only within an "index" --- sort of an "inflation" or "cost-of-living adjustment" --- set by the state. The index for 2018-19 is 2.4 percent.

Property tax increases above that indexed percentage must be put to a referendum by the voters unless certain conditions are met. On Wednesday, McKeesport Area filed its preliminary 2018-19 budget with the state Department of Education and asked for a waiver from the referendum requirement.

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