Mayor, Council Appoint New Administrator, Controller

July 06, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Tube City Almanac photo)

McKeesport's controller was appointed to the city's top administrative position on Wednesday night, while the man who was running to replace the controller has been elevated to that job on an interim basis.

Council voted 6-0 to name Tom Maglicco as city administrator, effective immediately. Councilwoman Fawn Walker-Montgomery was absent during the vote.

Maglicco replaces Matt Gergely, who resigned to take a position as assistant to the business manager in the McKeesport Area School District.

"Mr. Maglicco was on a very extremely short list" of replacements for Gergely, Mayor Mike Cherepko said. "It was very clear to me early on that he has a passion for making McKeesport a better place to live and work."

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McKeesport School Board Trims Budget, OK's Tax Increase

July 05, 2017 |

By Mary Shelly | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Area School District residents will pay a little bit more in property taxes next year.

The final budget of $65.6 million adopted June 28 by a 7-1 vote will increase the tax rate from 16.74 mills to 17.37 mills.

A tax increase of 0.63 mills would add 63 cents on every $1,000 of assessed value of a property. A taxpayer with a house valued at $50,000 will expect to see their annual school property tax go up $31.50.

School Director Scott Smith was the only board member to vote no, although Christopher Halaszynski was not in attendance.

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Local Reps Praise Decision on Mon-Fayette Expressway

June 30, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Two McKeesport-area state representatives are praising the decision by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission to recommend completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway through the Mon-Yough area.

The commission, which oversees infrastructure planning for 10 counties, including Allegheny, voted 48 to 4 on Monday to include the 14-mile extension of the toll road into the region's transportation master plan.

The extension would take the highway, also known as Pennsylvania Route 43, from its current northern end in Jefferson Hills through West Mifflin, Dravosburg, Duquesne, East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek and Wilkins Twp. to the Parkway East in Monroeville.

“We would like to publicly acknowledge the members of the (SPC) and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald for their hard work and willingness to work together in taking the next step toward bringing this important transportation project closer to reality," said state Reps. Bill Kortz of Dravosburg and Marc Gergely of White Oak, in a joint statement.

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Storm Damage Tops Discussion for White Oak Council

June 27, 2017 |

By David Stephens | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Two major thunderstorms that rocked the Mon Valley took their toll on White Oak, officials and residents said at the June 19 council meeting.

James Eiben, a resident of Ohio Street, told borough council that following the storms, his basement had two feet of water, and that the new storm drains are constantly flooding onto the street.

Meanwhile, the borough is looking for a replacement for the traffic light in front of Busy Beaver on Lincoln Way, which was damaged by a falling tree during one storm.

The damage was extensive and a new pole is needed, officials said. The problem is that the pole is an older, four-bolt model, but newer poles use three bolts. Borough officials said that if White Oak crews can find a replacement four-bolt pole they can have the light repaired in a couple weeks; if they can't find one, it could take a few months to put the signal back into service.

A temporary all-way stop sign was placed at the intersection pending the signal's repair.

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After 130 Years, Church Gives Thanks Before Closing its Doors

June 26, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Above: Rev. Warren Smith, pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church in McKeesport, brings Communion to a worshipper on Sunday, along with Allie Tyler and Bob Katko. The church on Ninth Avenue will close this Friday. (Tube City Almanac photo)

In the summer of 1887, when McKeesport had about 20,000 residents, "25 to 30" English-speaking Lutherans gathered under the leadership of William Passavant and Elmer Crouse to found the congregation that became known as St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Church attendance boomed as the city's population grew to 55,000, said the Rev. Kurt F. Kusserow, Bishop of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod.

Now, 130 years later, McKeesport has about the same number of residents and about the same number of congregants at St. John's, which will permanently close its doors this Friday. A final worship service was held Sunday at the church on Ninth Avenue, with about 50 people --- twice the usual number of congregants --- in attendance.

"If today's closing is a dark time, if it feels like an ending or a failure, then open your eyes, because the light of Christ is shining all around you," Kusserow told worshippers on Sunday.

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Medical Marijuana Company Prepares to Start Hiring in McKeesport

June 20, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Above: Pure Penn CEO Gabe Perlow and McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko (foreground) address members of the media at Tuesday's announcement at RIDC's industrial park on the former U.S. Steel National Works site. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac.)

Local residents will soon have a chance to apply for jobs at McKeesport's newest employer --- a facility that will grow and process medical marijuana.

Gabe Perlow, chief executive officer of PurePenn LLC, said Tuesday the company will announce a hiring fair "in about two weeks" now that it's been granted one of only two licenses in the Pittsburgh region to grow and process cannabis plants for treatment of chronic pain, glaucoma and other ailments.

The announcement will be posted on the company's Facebook page, he said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Tuesday awarded 12 manufacturing licenses statewide after sorting through more than 500 applications. The other Pittsburgh-area license was awarded to a company in Carmichaels, Greene County, between Waynesburg and Uniontown.

Perlow, a Pittsburgh real estate developer, said Tuesday was a day to "celebrate the city of McKeesport."

"From a readiness standpoint, from a community engagement standpoint, the city of McKeesport has been behind us 100 percent and we really couldn't have done it without them," he said.

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Many Still Without Power After Storms; Mon-Yough Area Bore Brunt

June 14, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Almost 300 homes and businesses in the Mon-Yough area remain without power after powerful thunderstorms ripped through the area on Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday morning, Duquesne Light reported 721 customers without electric service, with 268 located in West Mifflin, McKeesport, North Versailles Twp., Port Vue, Pittsburgh's Hazelwood neighborhood, White Oak, Liberty Borough and Duquesne.

A National Weather Service map shows that the heaviest rainfall yesterday was centered almost perfectly on McKeesport, with the city and surrounding communities receiving 1.5 to 3 inches of rain.

Yet only a few miles away, areas such as Finleyville, South Park and Pleasant Hills received less than a half-inch. Moon Twp. reported only a "trace" of precipitaton yesterday, and Pittsburgh International Airport in Findlay Twp. reported none at all.

Unofficial observations in White Oak and Port Vue measured 3 to 5 inches of rain on Tuesday afternoon.

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'Like Being in a Hurricane': Area Cleans Up After Powerful Storms

June 13, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

UPDATE: The Mansfield Bridge ramps from Dravosburg to McKeesport are still closed Wednesday morning.

Above: McKeesport crews work to clear mud and debris at the end of the Mansfield Bridge after a slow-moving thunderstorm dropped up to 5 inches of rain on the Mon-Yough area Tuesday afternoon. (Tube City Almanac photo)

"It was like being in a hurricane," said one witness in Port Vue, after two powerful storms Tuesday afternoon dumped 3 to 5 inches of rain on the McKeesport area, uprooting trees, causing mudslides and flooding several area roadways.

The National Weather Service in Moon Twp. issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Mon-Yough area just before 4 p.m., warning that an approaching storm was packing 60 mph winds, large hail and torrential rains.

By 4:15 p.m., rain was falling in sheets on West Mifflin, Dravosburg, McKeesport, Liberty and Port Vue.

"We watched this hailstorm come through, and there was a pause, and then it was like it re-generated," McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko said, as he observed city public works crews trying to clear the flooded ramps at the southern end of the Mansfield Bridge.

"The first storm was already bad," he said. "The second one was crippling."

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Farmer's Market Has Room to Grow at Renzie

June 12, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Tony Kennon and daughter Maggie, age 7, of North Versailles Twp. inspect fabric art on sale Saturday at the first Renzie Farmer's Market. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Saturday morning's rain dampened --- but only slightly --- the first of 26 planned weekly farmer's markets behind fire station No. 2 at Renziehausen Park.

About 16 vendors selling fresh fruit and vegetables, flowering plants, crafts and jewelry greeted visitors from 9 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday, said two of the organizers, Joelle Harbert and Andi Cartwright, both of White Oak.

"Not everyone who planned to be here came out this morning, but I think this is a great turnout for the first day and I'm excited to see what comes in the next few weeks," Cartwright said.

This is the second year for the farmer's market, which was organized by Kelly Doyle and held last year at Heritage Hills Park in White Oak, Harbert said.

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McKeesport Knitters Pick Library Lawn for Saturday Celebration

June 08, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

It only takes a set of needles and "the ability to chatter" to participate in the worldwide event coming to McKeesport this Saturday.

That's the advice of Susan Paoletti of Glassport, one of the people planning to participate this weekend in "World Wide Knit in Public Day" on the lawn of the Carnegie Library of McKeesport. The event begins at 11 a.m. and will include a potluck lunch, and the public is welcome to attend, says Mary Rose Bendel, director of adult education and outreach for the library.

Number 10 or 11 needles --- available for $3 or $4 per pair at most craft stores --- are best, Paoletti says. Otherwise, she says, little else is needed to join in the fun.

"We have patterns and we have the yarn," says Paoletti, who learned to knit as a young girl and picked the hobby up again 10 years ago, when she retired from a career at Gimbels, Horne's, Lazarus and Macy's.

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