USS Manager: $1.2B Investment Will Keep Mon Valley Plants Competitive

October 05, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Guests watch a video depicting a new “endless caster” to be built at U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock and North Braddock. (Photo courtesy Maury Burgwin, Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce)

Listen: An edited version of this discussion can be heard on our podcast, Two Rivers, 30 Minutes

U.S. Steel’s planned $1.2 billion investment in its three Mon Valley plants will open them to new markets, reduce pollution and energy consumption and keep them competitive well into the 21st century.

That's what Kurt Barshick, general manager of the Mon Valley Works, said Friday during a luncheon held by the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce to mark National Manufacturing Day.

“This is going to make Pittsburgh — and the Mon Valley in particular — the epicenter for automotive steel production,” Barshick told about 125 people during the event, held at the Sunset Room in Elizabeth Twp. “Mills in Detroit will not be able to compete with us ... we plan on keeping that job base in Pittsburgh forever.”

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Local Lions Club Member Honored With Prestigious Award

October 04, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Kirby Marchand of North Versailles Twp., past governor of District 14-B of the Lions Club, presents the first of two awards to Annette James, secretary of the McKeesport Lions Club. (Tube City Almanac photo)

A McKeesport resident and city employee who prefers to stay out of the spotlight was honored Wednesday night — whether she liked it or not.

Before a standing-room crowd, Annette James, secretary of the McKeesport Lions Club, was presented with the Lions’ Club International President’s Leadership Award and the President’s Marketing Award.

The leadership award is the third-highest honor available in the international fraternal and service organization, founded in 1917 and based in Illinois.

James, a member of the Lions Club since 2012, “is not someone who hears of a problem or an opportunity for service and sits on it,” said Kirby Marchand of North Versailles Twp., past governor of District 14-B, which includes Allegheny County. “She takes action.”

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Zoning Board Denies Variance for Former Store

October 03, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport's zoning hearing board has denied a request for a conditional use permit at the former David Israel men's clothing store at 507 Fifth Ave.

The permit was requested by the building's owner, the McKeesport Preservation Society, which had sought permission to use the structure for “educational” purposes, said A.J. Tedesco, McKeesport community development director.

The building is in a commercial C-2 zoning district, which according to the city's zoning code is intended for "retail and service commercial uses along with business, professional and medical offices, and other related business uses."

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Grant Spurs Construction of New Houses in McKeesport, Penn Hills

October 02, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Marking the start of construction on a new house along Lemon Street in the city are state Sen. Jim Brewster, McKeesport resident Shawnda Little-Dreher, who owns a house renovated by Habitat; Mike Rizzo, chief risk officer FHLB Pittsburgh; state Rep. Austin Davis; US. Rep. Mike Doyle; McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko; Howard B. Slaughter Jr. of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh; and Michelle Ufner, regional wellness manager,Team Rubicon USA. (Richard Finch Jr. photo special to Tube City Almanac)

Volunteers who came to Lemon Street in McKeesport Monday morning to “raise the wall” of a family’s new home, instead huddled under umbrellas to wait out the rain.

But the rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of Dr. Howard B. Slaughter, Jr., president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh.

“The effort today, to begin this development --- raising the wall --- is important.” Slaughter said.

Habitat of Greater Pittsburgh received an Affordable Housing Grant of $225,000 from Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh for the development of the vacant lot on Lemon Street in McKeesport and two vacant lots in Penn Hills.

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City Coming to Grips With Blight, Vacancies in Downtown Area

October 01, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport officials are pressuring owners of vacant commercial properties like this one across from city hall to "either pay the fines and fix the building up, or sell it," Mayor Michael Cherepko says. (Tube City Almanac photo)

In 1960, McKeesport was the second-largest retail center in Allegheny County, with more than 700 stores doing $100 million in sales --- adjusted for inflation, about $857 million today.

Fifty years later, there were only 81 retail businesses in the city, doing about $300 million in business.

Vacant storefronts fill entire blocks of Fifth Avenue, once the city's main commercial street. But over the past year, something new has been showing up on otherwise empty store windows --- condemnation notices.

"As we continue to market our city and try to attract new businesses in addition to new residents, one of the biggest obstacles we face is blight in our commercial district," McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko says. "Over the last year or so, we’ve really gotten aggressive in addressing issues in the Downtown area."

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Afterschool Academy Will Teach Career, Life Lessons for Grades 9-12

September 30, 2019 |

By Chris Baumann | Posted in: Duquesne News, McKeesport and Region News

In August, members of the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club and Duquesne-West Mifflin Boys & Girls Club participated in a STEM summer camp led by McKeesport's Blueroof Technologies. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania are opening an after-school career preparation academy in October at the former McKeesport Daily News Building, Downtown. (Photo courtesy Boys and Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania, via Facebook.)

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania is opening a Workforce Development Academy called Career Works in the beginning of October in Downtown McKeesport.

Located in the Tube City Center for Business and Innovation --- the former Daily News Building at 409 Walnut St.--- the program will primarily focus on developing career opportunities for highschool students grades 9-12.

Students from any area school district are welcome to participate and applications are being accepted online. The program will meet from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. weekdays beginning Oct. 1 through June 1.

Career Works will offer academic development, soft skill development, career coaching, internship programs and many other valuable career-related resources, said Lisa Abel-Palmieri, president and chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania.

“Our organization has been offering career development for over a decade, but we want to serve a broader teen demographic,” she said.  “We want to retain students past the K-8 level. In the past they have tended to lose interest in the organization due to a lack of programming for their age range.”

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Council Awards Contract for Railroad Tower’s Preservation

September 27, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Tube City Almanac photo)

One of the last vestiges of the railroad tracks that once cut through the heart of Downtown is finally getting a makeover.

McKeesport City Council this month awarded a $24,500 contract to Kucich Construction Inc. to renovate the former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad crossing tower at the corner of Walnut Street and Sixth Avenue.

McKeesport-based Kucich was the lowest responsible bidder, city officials said.

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District: Governor’s Visit Gave Us Chance to Share Views

September 27, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s visit this month to Twin Rivers Elementary gave McKeesport Area School District a chance to share its views on charter schools, Superintendent Mark Holtzman said.

During Wednesday’s school board meeting, Holtzman discussed the Sept. 4 joint news conference with Wolf.

“We were able to talk about some of the things that need to change when it comes to charter schools,” Holtzman said.

At the press conference, Wolf discussed charter school reform including what he called a “fee-for-service model,” that will charge charter schools to resolve payment disputes with local districts, enabling the Pennsylvania Department of Education to recoup costs they are currently incurring from charter schools.

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School District to Meet With Family Court Judge Regarding Alleged Bias in Custody Case

September 27, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A portion of the transcript provided by family members. (Photo via Facebook.)

The superintendent of McKeesport Area School District will meet with an Allegheny County judge who reportedly called the school system substandard.

According to family members, the fact that the child’s mother lived in McKeesport was the deciding factor in awarding custody to the child’s father.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. confirmed Judge Kathryn Hens-Greco will tour the school district with him on Oct. 25.

Hens-Greco’s remarks were reportedly made Aug. 7 during a child custody hearing. What appears to be an official court transcript was posted on Facebook by the child’s mother and has been widely circulated.

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Parts of Mon-Yough Area Still Under Boil Water Order

September 20, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(UPDATED: This story was updated with new information Friday night.)

(Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety, via Twitter)

Parts of the Mon-Yough area remain under a boil-water advisory after a massive water line broke Friday morning in Pittsburgh's South Hills.

Clairton, Dravosburg, Homestead, Jefferson Hills, Munhall, Pleasant Hills, West Homestead, West Mifflin and Whitaker are among the communities affected, said a spokesman for Pennsylvania American Water Co.

Water tankers were being delivered Friday night to 15 locations, including the Munhall Municipal Building, 1900 West St., and West Mifflin Municipal Building, 1020 Lebanon Road. Customers should bring their own water containers.

The company said that water pressure was returning to normal in the affected area, but the boil-water advisory would remain in effect until at least Sunday morning.

Pennsylvania American customers on the opposite side of the river in Elizabeth, Liberty and Glassport are not affected, and communities such as McKeesport and Port Vue that get their water from the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County also are not affected.

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