McKeesport City Council has banned smoking, except in designated areas, at all organized events on public-owned property.
The measured passed Wednesday night by a 4-1 vote amends a previous ordinance that banned smoking at public playgrounds.
Council President Richard Dellapenna Jr. was absent due to a death in his family, while Councilwoman Jamie Brewster-Filotei was attending McKeesport Area High School's graduation ceremonies. Councilman Tim Brown participated in the meeting by phone.
Mayor Mike Cherepko said there have been complaints at McKeesport's Summer Concert Series about attendees smoking in the audience.
The sale of the sewerage authority serving McKeesport and 11 other municipalities is "on track," city Mayor Mike Cherepko said, despite rumors to the country.
In fact, the appraised value of the system has gone up from $156 million to $162 million. City Council last night by 5-0 vote approved an amended sales agreement at the new, higher value, and extending by 180 days the deadline for the deal to be completed.
In September, Pennsylvania-American Water Co. announced plans to purchase the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport, which serves 22,000 customers in southeastern Allegheny County and operates sewage treatment plants in the city's lower 10th Ward, Duquesne and Dravosburg.
The purchase is one of the first in Pennsylvania to be affected by Act 12, a law passed by the state General Assembly in 2016, that governs the takeover of publicly owned utilities --- such as sewerage authorities --- by private utility companies regulated by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
The Mon-Yough area's two remaining Kmarts are so far spared from the store closings being planned by their parent company.
Kmart stores at the corner of Route 30 and Route 48 in North Versailles Twp. and on Route 51 in Pleasant Hills are not on the list of closures sent Tuesday to employees of Sears Holdings Corp., which is declining comment to the media.
But Kmart stores in Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland County, and near Indiana and Butler, Pa., are being closed this year, likely before September, according to published reports.
The list obtained by media outlets indicates that Sears Holdings will close 16 Sears, Roebuck & Co. locations and 49 Kmart stores, including those three in Pennsylvania.
Above: The representatives who signed the letter are urging the Turnpike Commission to complete the unfinished sections of the Southern Beltway —- shown in purple and orange —- before completing the northern extension of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, shown in yellow. (Map courtesy Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission)
Correction: This story incorrectly stated the party affiliation of state Rep. Brandon Neuman and state Rep. Pam Snyder. They are Democrats. I apologize for the error.
A group of state representatives —- including Elizabeth’s Rick Saccone —- have written to the Greater Pittsburgh area’s regional planning commission urging it not to recommend completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway.
Instead, the representatives —-9 Republicans, two Democrats --- say the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission should intensify its efforts to complete the so-called Southern Beltway (state Route 576) between Interstate 79 and Finleyville as quickly as possible.
About 6.5 miles of Route 576 in Findlay and Robinson townships, near Pittsburgh International Airport, is open, while another 13 miles is now under construction.
The letter to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, signed by 11 members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, refers to the proposed 14 mile segment of Pennsylvania Route 43 from Jefferson Hills to Monroeville as a “road to nowhere.” It argues that completing the Mon-Fayette through West Mifflin, Duquesne, East Pittsburgh and Turtle Creek will do little to open old factory sites to redevelopment.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf talks to local and state officials during a tour of the McKeesport electric-resistance weld pipe mill recently purchased by Dura-Bond. From left, Jason Norris, president of Dura-Bond Industries (with back to camera); Wolf; McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko; state Sen. Jim Brewster; and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. (Submitted photo courtesy City of McKeesport.)
Editor's Note: This story was written from a recording of the tour.
The new owner of McKeesport's last remaining pipe mill last week told Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf that "the challenge is enormous" but Dura-Bond is committed to turning the facility around.
"We have a family ethic and we're here to create jobs and put people to work and, in turn, take care of the business, and hopefully the business will take care of us," said Jason Norris, president of Dura-Bond Industries Inc., who gave a tour on Friday to Wolf and other local and state officials.
A family owned, Westmoreland County-based company, Dura-Bond took ownership of the former U.S. Steel electric-resistance weld mill in December. The mill is not running yet but Dura-Bond is making the necessary repairs to put it back into operation, Norris said.
McKeesport Area School District residents could pay a little bit more in property taxes next year, and no one on the school board is pleased about it.
The preliminary budget of $65.7 million adopted last week by a 5-4 vote of the school board would increase the tax rate from 16.74 mills to 17.37 mills.
School Directors Ivan Hampton, Mary Jane Keller, Joe Lopretto, Patricia Maksin and Scott Smith voted in favor of the preliminary budget; James Brown, Christopher Halaszynski, Steven Kondrosky and Mindy Sturgess voted no.
"I'm not one for a tax hike, but we can blame our governors for that," Lopretto said. "Mr. Corbett has done some serious damage to all the school districts in the state and Mr. Wolf really hasn't done too much either. Mr. Trump hasn't hasn't helped us either with the Secretary of Education he put in there."
Above: Cadet Evan Reed of the McKeesport Area High School Junior Air Force ROTC program places an American flag at the city's War Memorial on Lysle Boulevard during Memorial Day observances Monday. (Tube City Almanac photo)
More than 100 people gathered Monday morning at the city's War Memorial on Lysle Boulevard to commemorate the lives of those from the Mon-Yough area who died in service to their country.
Participants included area veterans' organizations, the recently restarted Junior Air Force ROTC program at McKeesport Area High School, members of the high school band and choir, and current and retired elected officials.
Memorial Day is not just the "unofficial start of summer," McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko said. "It's very sad that all too often we forget what the true meaning of Memorial Day is," he said. "All of you who are here --- you don't forget. Let's make sure we remind others as well."
(Above: Staff of the Mon Valley Independent pose for a picture to celebrate the Monessen-based paper's one-year anniversary. Mon Valley Independent photo.)
More than a year after the closure of McKeesport's 131-year-old Daily News, two other local print newspapers are expanding into the Mon-Yough area.
Munhall's weekly newspaper, The Valley Mirror, which serves communities in the West Mifflin, Steel Valley and Woodland Hills school districts, has added coverage of Dravosburg, Glassport and Port Vue, among other McKeesport suburbs.
Meanwhile, Monessen's new daily newspaper, the Mon Valley Independent, celebrated its one-year anniversary on May 2 by beginning to sell papers in McKeesport.
At stake for both the Independent and the Mirror --- at least in part --- is the revenue from legal advertisements that Pennsylvania municipalities are required to place in newspapers of "general circulation." McKeesport officials are already considering a shift of the city's legal advertisements from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to the Mon Valley Independent to save money.
Westmoreland County has begun work on its newest industrial park, to be located near West Newton.
At a meeting last week of the Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce in Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland County Commission Chair Gina Cerilli said the new facility in Sewickley Twp., to be known as Commerce Crossing, will hopefully begin accepting its first tenants in 2018.
The park will be located adjacent to Interstate 70, she said, adding "our goal is 150 acres of pad-ready sites."
According to county officials, the site will include direct railroad access. Cerilli said Westmoreland is hoping the site will be attractive for businesses that are related to Shell Chemical Co.'s new ethane cracking plant, now under construction near Monaca, Beaver County.
White Oak borough council could decide by August whether to pursue a project to make Lincoln Way better for pedestrians.
At Monday's meeting, council discussed the possibility of pursuing a multimodal transportation grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development to upgrade lighting, pedestrian crosswalks and signage along Lincoln Way and other side-walked areas.
The grant can also be used to add benches and trash cans to the sidewalks, borough officials said. But placing the benches would offer their own set of challenges, and some council members said it might not be worth pursuing them as part of the grant, particularly since the borough no longer has a bus route.