After 20 Years, Teen-Ager's Unsolved Death Still Haunts, Hurts

July 04, 2018 |

By Lynne Glover | Posted in: Crime and Police News, News

Engraved on Kimmie Krimm’s marker: “When you look up into the evening sky and see the brightest star shining down on earth, pause for a moment and remember that star’s name is Kimberlie Rose Krimm.” (Lynne Glover photo, special to Tube City Almanac)

Having recently been released from the hospital, Jeanie Krimm said it was simply too much for her to plan a 20-year anniversary remembrance for her daughter, Kimberlie Rose Krimm.

Fourteen-year-old Kimberlie Krimm's body was found 20 years ago this week, on July 6, 1998, on a hillside at McKeesport & Versailles Cemetery by a utility worker.    

“People talk about pain,” said Jeanie Krimm, two decades after her daughter’s death. “They don’t know pain until they lose a child. I’ll never be the same. Never.”

Part of the suffering is not really knowing what happened to Kimberlie, and how and why she died. The cause and manner of Kimmie’s death were ruled “undetermined” by the Allegheny County Coroner's Office—and it was never officially declared a homicide.

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Work Begins on Renzie Pavilion Renovations; Contract OK'd for Amphitheater

July 03, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

Work began this week on renovations to the first of five pavilions at Renziehausen Park.

And, in a separate development, McKeesport officials have given a contractor orders to proceed with construction of a new amphitheater at Gergely Park on the Youghiogheny River waterfront.

General contractor on the $184,750 project to repair four pavilions at Renzie is Plavchak Construction Co. of Jefferson Hills. The work will include new roofs, signage, benches and other updates to four pavilions.

McKeesport officials had hoped the renovations would be completed in the spring. But A.J. Tedesco, city community development director, told The Almanac the city decided to plan the work around pavilion rentals to minimize inconvenience to park visitors.

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County Hits Clairton Works With $1M Fine, Threatens Further Action

June 29, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Editor's note: The author of this story has a conflict of interest. See the note at the end of the story.

U.S. Steel's Clairton Works in a 2010 photo by Patrick Cain. (Via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0)

An air-quality monitor across the river from U.S. Steel's Clairton Coke Works is the only one where pollution levels are out of compliance with federal standards, Allegheny County officials said Thursday.

As a result, the Allegheny County Health Department has fined U.S. Steel $1 million and has given the company 60 days to submit information about how it intends to clean up emissions from the facility.

If the company doesn't improve its performance within a six-month time period, a county health department spokesman said, the county will order two of Clairton Works' coke batteries to be shut down.

Meghan Cox, a spokeswoman for U.S. Steel in Pittsburgh, told Tube City Almanac on Friday the company is "reviewing the document at this time" but had no further comment.

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Warm Homecoming for 'Missing McKeesport,' Filmmaker

June 24, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Sam Zolten (third from left) greets visitors following a screening of his documentary "Missing McKeesport" on Sunday afternoon at the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)

Sam Zolten was worried that "maybe about 10 people" would attend a screening of his documentary, "Missing McKeesport," on Sunday afternoon at the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center.

In fact, about 100 people filled the seats of the center's Boycott Room and stood in the lobby to see the 90-minute film, comprised of interviews with local residents, past and present, telling stories of McKeesport's Jewish community ---  and therefore, the city's history --- from the 1900s to the present.

"I didn't know what to expect," said Zolten, a McKeesport High School graduate who moved away in 1967 and now lives near Philadelphia. "I'm overwhelmed to see so many people I don't know, who aren't Jewish, but who can relate to the experience."

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Right-to-Know Request Seeks Information on Fire Hydrants

June 24, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

Tube City Community Media Inc. has filed an official request under the state's Right-to-Know law seeking records related to the condition of fire hydrants in McKeesport's Grandview and Hall Park neighborhoods.

The request, dated June 22, was sent to the city's water provider, Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.

The Greensburg-based authority is a public entity but is managed by a private business, Resource Development & Management of Forest Hills, and serves 120,000 customers in five counties. It purchased McKeesport's water system in 1987.

A fire on June 16 on Cleveland Street in McKeesport destroyed one house, heavily damaged a neighboring house, and caused heat damage to four additional houses. Firefighters said that low water volume from nearby fire hydrants, which are supplied and maintained by the Westmoreland water authority, hampered their efforts to battle the blaze.

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Fire Department to Review Procedures in Grandview Area

June 22, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Residents of McKeesport's Grandview neighborhood should not be alarmed if they see fire trucks --- especially water tankers --- in the area on Saturday morning.

City firefighters and volunteers from other communities will be evaluating new procedures and routes for responding to fires in the neighborhood, McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik said.

Officials are trying to be proactive and plan ahead before an emergency, he said. Lack of water volume at hydrants is being blamed for the damage caused by an early morning fire June 16 on Cleveland Street that sent four people to the hospital, destroyed a family's home and damaged five others, one seriously.

McKeesport is also "actively looking" for a water tanker of its own for the fire department, for use in the Grandview neighborhood, Tomovcsik said.

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Authority: Upgrades Will Improve Water Service in Grandview, Other Areas

June 19, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Lack of water is being blamed for the spread of a fire that destroyed this home in the 2600 block of Cleveland Street on Saturday morning. The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County is promising upgrades to the distribution system in the next 12 months. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)

The authority that provides water to McKeesport and neighboring communities plans $2.1 million in upgrades to the distribution system in Grandview and other parts of the city.

"The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County has invested more than $3 million on our McKeesport system in the past 12 months to improve both water supply and quality," said Matthew Junker, authority spokesman, in a prepared statement. "Further investments of $2.1 million are planned in the next 12 months."

Lack of water volume in Grandview is being blamed for the spread of a fire that destroyed a house on Cleveland Street on Saturday morning, and damaged five others. The authority did not release details on exactly how the new investments will address that low water volume.

Water tankers were called from Lincoln Borough, Monroeville and as far away as Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland County, as McKeesport firefighters and volunteers from several neighboring communities worked to bring the blaze under control.

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3 Local Racers Headed to World Soap Box Derby Finals

June 18, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News, Sports

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

Steamy temperatures and scorching pavement didn't faze entrants in the 2018 Greater Pittsburgh Soap Box Derby, held Sunday morning on Eden Park Boulevard in front of McKeesport Area High School.

The annual Father's Day tradition has been held for 36 consecutive years, but actually dates to the 1950s.

The top finishers in each category will be headed to the All-American Soap Box Derby World Championships, to be held in July in Akron, Ohio.

Photographer Vickie Babyak braved the heat to grab these images.

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4 Injured When Fire Sweeps Home; Lack of Water Hampered Efforts

June 18, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A sign urges passersby to help two families burned out of the home that once stood at 2615 Cleveland St. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)

Little remains of a house in the 2600 block of Cleveland Street that burned on Saturday morning --- sending four members of the Sostaric and Murphy families to the hospital.

A lack of water from local hydrants hampered efforts by McKeesport firefighters to fight the blaze, which spread to a neighboring home a few feet away, and got hot enough to melt the siding from three houses on the opposite side of the street.

Neighbors said it isn't the first time that a lack of water has hampered firefighting efforts on the street. One neighbor, who asked that his name not be printed, pointed to a vacant lot directly across from the home that burned to the ground Saturday.

"That house over there burned a few years ago," the neighbor said. "That vacant lot a few doors up? That was two houses that burned. Every time, same problem --- no water."

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Entrepreneur Eyes High-Tech Farm on RIDC Property

June 11, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Entrepreneur Juan Lacey is hoping some day to grow some of these same vegetables using aquaponics technology in McKeesport. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)

Urban farming in the Mon Valley isn't anything new --- but local businessman Juan Lacey isn't proposing an ordinary garden.

Lacey says he can grow produce and raise fish for 12 months out of the year at the RIDC Industrial Center of McKeesport using a technology called "aquaponics."

And if he can line up the financing --- if McKeesport is designated as an "opportunity zone" by the federal government --- Lacey says such a farm could be employing 16 or more people, producing fresh vegetables and fish for sale in supermarkets and use by restaurants within four to six months.

"Four acres can support 16 growing systems," Lacey says. "Each one of those creates 93,000 heads of lettuce per year, which is approximately 1.6 million heads of lettuce. That's a lot of product coming out."

James Rakocy, a retired researcher at the University of the Virgin Islands who is considered one of the fathers of aquaponics, says Lacey's goal isn't unattainable.

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