County: All Eight Air Monitors in Compliance

February 01, 2021 |

By Denise L. Ritter | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

For the first time in history, the air quality at all eight of the Allegheny County Health Department’s monitors has met federal standards.

Officials last week announced that the county has met federal air-quality standards for carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone and small particles of soot and other contaminants.

“This achievement comes after years of hard work by the health department, federal and state agencies and local industry to clean up the air in Allegheny County,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, health department director. “But we have more work to do, and the health department is committed to ensuring everyone in Allegheny County has clean air to breathe.”

The health department has eight air-quality monitors, including three in the Mon-Yough area at Liberty Borough, Clairton and North Braddock, as well as locations in Avalon, Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, South Fayette and Harrison townships and along the Parkway East.

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Family Sues Care Home Where Father Died

January 16, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The family of a retired Pittsburgh Steelers player who was found dead in a personal care home on Versailles Avenue has sued the facility, alleging negligence.

Samantha Davis of Washington, D.C., filed suit this week in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court against New Life Personal Care Home Inc. of McKeesport on behalf of the estate of her father, Samuel R. Davis.

Davis, 75, was found at the bottom of a flight of stairs in the New Life facility on Sept. 10, 2019, about 14 hours after he was reported missing. He was pronounced dead a short time later. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office said Davis died of complications related to heart disease.

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Teacher’s Former Students Do One More Project

January 15, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Diane Pazuchanics shows off a recent gift sent by a former student. (Submitted photo via Facebook)

Long-time McKeesport Area art teacher and mentor Diane Pazuchanics is seeing the inspiration she fostered in others being returned to her. Through “The Angel Project,” a network of students, colleagues, friends and even strangers, are using art to show their gratitude toward her.

Pazuchanics, known as Mrs. Paz to her students, has taught at McKeesport Area High School for 27 years as an art teacher, providing students with creative inspiration. Due to a weakened immune system and other health complications, Mrs. Paz has been on sick leave this school year.

Danielle Pazuchanics, her daughter, recently posted a video to Facebook in which her mother shared a wish for a “final lesson plan”: to compile a book of watercolor paintings. Paz also created a Facebook group, The Angel Project, for colleagues to share well wishes.

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Executive Bldg. Coming Back to Life

January 13, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Condemned signs have been removed from the Executive Building, Downtown, whose new owner, Jonathan Stark, has four potential tenants ready for the first floor. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Although the “Condemned” notices were recently removed from the doors of the Executive Building on Fifth Avenue, don’t expect to see a movie at the Quad Cinemas in the basement any time soon.

The seats and projection equipment are long gone, but the four auditoriums are still there, and they’re still plagued by the same problem that forced the theaters to close in 1980 — they’re prone to flooding.

“They’re more than 20 feet below street level,” said Jonathan Stark, who purchased the building in April 2020.

While the old theater spaces are likely to stay vacant, four tenants have signed letters of intent for the storefronts along Fifth Avenue, Stark said.

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Downtown Park-Ride Lot to Close for Upgrades

January 13, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The Downtown park-and-ride lot will be closed through the end of the year while Port Authority of Allegheny County makes improvements to the facility. (Tube City Almanac photo)

The McKeesport Transportation Center will close Saturday for the remainder of the year as Allegheny County’s transit agency begins the second phase of improvements to the facility.

A spokesperson for Port Authority of Allegheny County said the work will include four new bus shelters with benches, 19 additional parking spaces, two bus ticket vending machines and improved access for bicycle riders who want to use the Great Allegheny Passage trail.

In addition, a restroom building will be constructed for bus drivers and the sewerage system at the site will be improved to accommodate more rainwater runoff through use of an underground retention tank.

The cost of the improvements is $3.4 million.

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Sanders to Team: ‘Mistakes Are Very, Very Costly’

January 11, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Corry Sanders speaks to members of the McKeesport Tigers men’s varsity basketball team. The longtime barbershop owner now works for the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office and for Pittsburgh’s Center for Victims. (Mike Manko photo, special to Tube City Almanac)

Corry Sanders went to the McKeesport Senior High School gymnasium last week with a simple message for the men’s varsity basketball team.

“Mistakes are very, very costly nowadays,” Sanders told about 20 members of the squad on Thursday night. “You might not be blessed with an opportunity to choose again.

“This is not a ‘Call of Duty’ game on Xbox, where you get a reset button,” he said.

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Questions Raised After Meeting Closed to Public

January 06, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A former McKeesport city councilwoman is encouraging supporters to call officials and voice their displeasure after Wednesday’s council meeting was closed to the public.

In a video posted to Facebook Live, Fawn Walker-Montgomery, co-founder of Take Action Mon Valley and a candidate for state representative in 2018, said Wednesday night she planned to file a complaint against the city for allegedly violating the state’s Open Meetings Law, commonly called the “Sunshine Act.”

“There are so many violations that are happening here right now,” Walker-Montgomery said.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said the decision to close the meeting was made due to the sharply increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the region.

“This is only going to happen for a couple of months,” he said. “We’re hoping no more than two or three meetings before we’re in the clear.”

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Source of Gas Odor Undetermined

January 06, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, North Versailles Twp. News, White Oak News

A strong odor reported by residents of McKeesport, North Versailles Twp. and White Oak on Tuesday night was not a natural gas leak, a spokesman said.

Allegheny County emergency personnel said firefighters were dispatched to several locations along Route 48 just after 7 p.m. after 9-1-1 callers said they smelled natural gas.

But Barry Kukovich, spokesman for Peoples Gas, said there were no gas leaks or any service problems reported in Route 48 corridor on Tuesday night.

Natural gas is odorless, and the “gas smell” actually comes from a chemical called methyl mercaptan, which is designed to help customers detect a leak.

Kukovich said that it’s possible that a truck carrying mercaptan, or a similar chemical, passed through the area on Tuesday night, but the smell was not related to Peoples Gas.


From 2019: Local Christmas Tree Lots
Keep Tradition Alive

December 24, 2020 |

By Emily Pidgeon | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Something was missing from the Christmas season this year.

McKeesport’s “Tree Man,” Don Spang, passed away July 30 at UPMC McKeesport Hospital. Spang was the owner and operator of Spang’s Landscaping and Tree Farms for more than 54 years.

For more than a half-century, beginning each November, Spang could be found along Hartman Street in the city, helping local residents pick out the perfect Christmas tree.

Writer Emily Pidgeon talked to Spang last Christmas. Our deepest sympathies to his family and many, many friends.

Herb Spang and an employee prepare to bale a customer’s tree at the family’s lot on Hartman Street in McKeesport. The Spangs have been selling Christmas trees at the location for nearly 60 years. (Emily Pidgeon photo special to Tube City Almanac)

(Originally published Dec. 20, 2019)

Selling Christmas trees during the holidays may seem like a fun and easy way to make a buck, but after talking to some local tree lot owners, you may think differently.

“We have to fight snakes, spiders, the sun, the weather — everything, you know,” said Don Spang, 88, of White Oak, owner of Spang’s Trees on Hartman Street in McKeesport.

Spang and his brother Herb, 79, along with other family members and employees, are celebrating 59 years of selling Christmas trees in the very same location.

Spang said he’s sold as many as 5,000 trees in one season. These days, the lot sells closer to 500 trees.

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Some Parents Frustrated By COVID Response

December 21, 2020 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Correction: This story was corrected after publication. See editor’s note.

As students gear up for winter break, some McKeesport Area parents are left wondering in what form school will resume in January.

While cases of COVID-19 continue to be confirmed in students and faculty across the district, in-person classes are expected to resume on Jan. 4.

All classes are virtual this week.

As of Dec. 22, McKeesport Area School District has had 77 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students and faculty since the school year began on Sept. 2. Most of those cases have been reported since November.

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