Fade Out: Southland 9 Cinemas Closed

August 26, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Above: Unidentified Southland 9 employees pose on the theater's last day. Photo via Facebook.)

Less than four months after the opening of the new Century Square Luxury Cinemas in West Mifflin, an older multiplex at nearby Southland Four Seasons Shopping Center has closed.

Georgia-based Carmike Cinemas has closed the Southland 9 theaters in Pleasant Hills, located behind the shopping center on Route 51. An announcement on the theater's Facebook page said the closing was effective yesterday.

The Southland 9's page on the Carmike website was deleted overnight.

Gina McKenzie, a spokeswoman for Carmike, said in an emailed statement Friday afternoon that members of the Carmike Cinemas rewards program and owners of annual popcorn buckets may continue to use them at the Galleria 6 in Mt. Lebanon and the Carmike 10 at South Hills Village. Both are less than 10 miles from Southland.

McKenzie declined comment on how many Southland 9 employees were affected by the closure, and whether any of them were offered jobs at other theaters.

 
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Air Force C-130 to Appear at West Mifflin Community Day Sept. 10

August 23, 2016 |

By Mike Mauer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules --- similar to this one shown flying above Pittsburgh's Mt. Washington --- will take center stage when West Mifflin celebrates its community day Sept. 10 at Allegheny County Airport.

One of a line of transport aircraft that have supported U.S. military personnel since 1957, the venerable C-130 will join dozens of local community groups, a live radio broadcast and performances by The Bel Airs and the North Side Kids at West Mifflin Community Day.

Refreshment booths will sell pork, ribs and chicken from Bad Azz BBQ, while various vendors, including non-profit groups and athletic teams, will supply other foods and beverages. Hours are 12 noon to 6 p.m.

 
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Village Returns With New Performers, New Night for Fireworks

August 08, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Denise L. Ritter photo

Tube City Almanac file photo by Denise L. Ritter

. . .

One of Western Pennsylvania's largest and longest-running ethnic festivals returns for its 57th consecutive year with many old favorites and a few new elements.

McKeesport's International Village will be held Aug. 16, 17 and 18 at Stephen Barry Field in Renziehausen Park, next to Penn State University's Greater Allegheny Campus and near McKeesport Area High School. Gates open each day at 3 p.m. and main stage entertainment begins at 6 p.m.

As in past years, a $2 donation is requested at the gate from visitors.

Gates and booths will close at 9 p.m. this year.

In addition, the fireworks display that has typically closed the three-day festival has been moved to opening night --- Tuesday --- as part of a lineup of entertainment that also will include the William Penn Magyar Folk Dancers, the Trafford Junior Tamburitzans, the Grecian Odyssey Dancers, the Saint Nicholas Junior Tamburitzans and a Lebanese bellydancer, as well as entertainment representing the traditions of Kenya.

Music for dancing will be provided in the Jakomas Blue-Top Pavilion, beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday, by the group Stari Drugovi, presented by the Swedish booth.

 
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Mon-Fayette Project Alive; Turnpike to Hold Public Meetings

August 03, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Jon Dawson via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution-No Derivatives

Seven years after halting work on the final stretch of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is putting the project back into gear.

The commission has scheduled a series of public meetings to collect input from residents and business owners about a new proposal to push on with a segment of highway through the Mon-Yough area.

The first meeting is slated for 6 p.m. Aug. 9 at Skyview Volunteer Fire Department, just off Route 885 in West Mifflin.

Subsequent meetings will be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 10 at Carlow University's St. Agnes Center on Fifth Avenue in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh; at 6 p.m. Aug. 16 in the gymnasium of Gateway Middle School, 4450 Old William Penn Hwy., Monroeville; and at 6 p.m. Aug. 17 in the auditorium of Woodland Hills Junior-Senior High School, 2250 Greensburg Pike, Churchill.

First proposed in the 1950s, the Mon-Fayette Expressway was envisioned as a link between Pittsburgh and Interstate 68 near Morgantown, W.Va.

The final, uncompleted 14-mile stretch from Route 51 in Jefferson Hills to the Parkway East in Monroeville would traverse the McKeesport, Duquesne and Braddock areas --- the most-populated stretch along the entire highway route, and arguably the most important segment in terms of economic development.

Plans to build a stretch of the expressway into the City of Pittsburgh have apparently been abandoned due to objections from residents, business owners and city leaders, according to published reports.

 
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Area Ministers Express Appreciation for City Police

July 20, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Tube City Almanac photo

McKeesport police Sgt. Francis Angert hugs Diane Elias, owner of Di's Kornerstone Diner, as members of the McKeesport Area Ministerium present officers with gift cards Tuesday as a token of appreciation. Tube City Almanac photo.

. . .

McKeesport-area religious leaders yesterday greeted city police officers as they began their shifts to thank them for their service, and to buy them a meal.

With cooperation from Di's Kornerstone Diner in Olympia Shopping Center, the McKeesport Area Ministerium provided $15 gift cards to all 55 full-time and part-time McKeesport police officers. They also visited police officers during roll call at 7 a.m., 3 p.m. and 11 p.m. Tuesday.

The spontaneous act of kindness was a reaction to the shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La., and heightened tensions between the public and law enforcement.

"Although you may not be told this very often, people really do appreciate what you do," Salvation Army Lt. John Esker Jr. told police before they started their afternoon shift, "and we're here to say thank you."

Ministerium leaders shook hands and, in some cases, hugged police officers as they left for patrol. Participants included Esker; Rev. Earlene Coleman, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church; Boniface Igba, spiritual director of Auberle; Gladys Hunt-Mason of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh; the Rev. Peter Giacalone of the Rainbow Temple Assembly of God; and Marty Smith, a retired pastor formerly with the McKeesport Alliance Church.

 
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66 Lose Homes in Duquesne Apartment House Blaze

July 19, 2016 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A massive fire in a Duquesne apartment building forced 66 people from their homes on Tuesday afternoon.

Residents of the Laurel Building in the Hilltop Parkview Manor complex off of Commonwealth Avenue in Duquesne's First Ward are being assisted by the American Red Cross, a county spokeswoman said. All of the tenants are believed to be staying with friends and relatives.

Red Cross and Allegheny County disaster relief workers will be back on the scene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, along with investigators from the Allegheny County fire marshal's office. The building suffered fire, smoke and heavy water damage, said Matt Brown, chief of Allegheny County Emergency Services.

All of the apartments on the first floor burned, and the roof over most of the second-floor apartments has collapsed, he said.

Low water pressure in the area hampered efforts to fight the blaze, Brown said. Tanker trucks brought water to the fire and volunteer firefighters responded from as far away as Swissvale and Monroeville.

 
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Glassport Apartment Project Benefits from Tax Credits

July 14, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Artist's rendering courtesy Thoughtful Balance

A project to convert the former Glassport High School into a senior living community received a boost from state officials on Thursday.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced that the Glassport Retirement Residence and two other projects --- in Mt. Lebanon and Forest Hills --- were awarded tax credits at a meeting of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

A.M. Rodriguez Associates, Franjo Construction, Thoughtful Balance Architects and CMS Management are planning to convert the 1930s high school, empty since 2004, into a 55-unit apartment building for people ages 62 and up.

 
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Trail-Side Cabin Begins Hosting Weary Hikers, Bikers

July 11, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A trailside cabin --- or "hostel" --- near McKeesport's marina has begun accepting its first paying guests.

Located in a former snack bar at Gergely Riverfront Park, the brick cabin is secured with an electronic lock and offers four beds, clean linens, a shower, bathroom facilities and a kitchenette, says Linda Brewster, president of the McKeesport Trail Commission.

The commission hosted an open house at the facility on Friday. Visitors who want to rent a bed overnight are charged $30 per bed, per night, and must pay using a credit or debit card; arrangements can be made by calling the trail commission at (412) 523-2972 or (724) 433-5640 before 10 p.m.

"This has been a long time coming and finally it's done," Brewster says. "Everyone who has helped us has been tremendous."

 
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Auditor General: McKeesport's 'Costly' Pension Mistake Must Be Fixed

June 10, 2016 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport officials made what Auditor General Eugene DePasquale called a "costly pension mistake" when they spent more than $729,000 in state pension aid on general operating expenses, instead of depositing it into employee retirement funds.

Although the auditor general made no allegations of intentional wrongdoing, DePasquale said on Thursday the error does put future state contributions to city pension plans into jeopardy until the problem is fixed.

And the mistake only exacerbated a $2.3 million shortfall in four different pension funds covering 164 employees who have retired from McKeesport's police, fire, public works and administrative departments.

City officials acknowledged the problem and will make amends, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said.

 
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New Housing Opens in Homestead Boro.

June 06, 2016 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Community leaders and developers cut the ribbon Thursday (June 2) on a new mixed-use development in Homestead.

One Homestead is located on East Eighth Avenue at Amity Street and has 51 housing units, including three-story loft apartments, two- and three-story townhouse units, and one- and two-bedroom apartments with patios or sunrooms.

The complex incorporates original Eighth Avenue buildings --- including the old Homestead post office, recently used as the borough police station --- as well as new construction. The developer was A.M. Rodriguez Associates of Pittsburgh and Akron.

One Homestead "was a very challenging project, but it will stand the test of time," said Victor Rodriguez, president of the company. "We put a great deal of thought into the design. We look forward to continuing to work with the Borough of Homestead on new developments, including the opening of a new brewpub in the old Levine Hardware store on 8th Avenue.”

 
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