Steeline Band Featured at City’s 58th Santa Parade

November 16, 2023 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Submitted photo courtesy Pittsburgh Steeline drum band)

The Pittsburgh Steeline drummers will highlight McKeesport’s 58th Salute to Santa parade.

Called a “staple of Steelers entertainment” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steeline group will be just one of the marching units at this Saturday’s event, which begins at 11 a.m. at the McKees Point Marina, Downtown, and proceeds up Fifth Avenue to Coursin Street.

More than 50 units will be part of this year’s celebration, city officials have announced. Tube City Community Media will provide free coverage of the parade via YouTube, beginning at 10:45 a.m.

The parade also will include the candidates for Queen, including Sydney Campusano (representing the McKeesport Area High School Tiger Band), Shai-Lynn Morgan (MAHS cheerleaders) and A’Naudya Robinson (LaRosa Youth Club); and Princess candidates Michelle Ferguson (MAHS cheerleaders), Amyah Harper (Little Tigers cheerleaders) and John’Nasya Mack (LaRosa Club).

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MAEA Union President: ‘Holding Period Right Now’

November 16, 2023 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Adam Reinherz photo)

Correction: This story was corrected after publication to correct an editing error.

The president of the union representing McKeesport Area School District teachers remains hopeful that a months-long contract dispute is nearing conclusion.

“It’s not as bad as the press is treating it,” said McKeesport Area Education Association president Gerald McGrew Jr.

MAEA has been without a contract since Aug. 31. Weeks ago, the teacher’s union rejected a one-year contract offered by the district, but the decision wasn’t driven by financial greed, according to McGrew.

The issue is really about allowing the district to complete its audit and allow time for the new business manager to “get acclimated to the job,” McGrew said.

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New Police Chief Promises to Be Visible

November 06, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

New McKeesport police Chief Mark Steele receives his badge from former chief Adam Alfer at October’s council meeting. (Tube City Almanac photo)

School safety and staying visible in the community are two priorities for McKeesport’s new police chief.

Mark Steele, a 27-year veteran of the department, was sworn into office by Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi in October. He replaced retired Chief Adam Alfer, who took a job with South Allegheny School District.

“I don’t want to be an ‘office chief,’” Steele said. “I want to be on the road and learn first-hand what’s going on in the city.

“You never know where I’m going to show up,” he said. “That’s the only way to know what’s going on.”

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EPA Earmarks $1M Grant for Projects in City

November 06, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

City officials are excited about a $1 million grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency that will enable McKeesport to address stormwater runoff along the Youghiogheny River, add native shade trees to several neighborhoods, and engage young people in conservation work.

The grant includes partnerships with groups such as Allegheny CleanWays and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the city announced last week.

“We are thankful for this opportunity to improve environmental conditions within the City of McKeesport,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “This, like many other endeavors here, will be a whole-community effort. I can’t say often enough that I believe in ‘working together for a better McKeesport,’ and our community is full of organizations and volunteers who are committed to our city’s health and environmental wellbeing.”

The EPA in late October announced nearly $5.3 million for projects in Pennsylvania designed to address environmental problems in low-income communities. McKeesport was one of eight communities statewide that received grants, according to Virginia Nurk, EPA spokesperson in Philadelphia.

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DEI Expert: ‘Restorative’ Work is Fostering Healing

October 27, 2023 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

School directors and the public listen on Wednesday as Erika Kestenberg, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, addresses the McKeesport Area school board. (Adam Reinherz photo for Tube City Almanac)

A consultant working with the McKeesport Area School District said this week that school directors did the right thing by apologizing following an outburst at the last board meeting.

Erika Kestenberg, an expert on diversity, equity and inclusion who has worked with the district in the past, said Wednesday that in the wake of the September incident, a statement issued by six of the nine board members was the correct move.

At the end of a sometimes raucous board meeting on Sept. 26, a member of the audience confronted School Director James Brown over his remarks that the session had been a “sh-t show.”

Brown responded with what witnesses described as profanity and a homophobic slur.

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MAHS Hosting State Band Competition

October 27, 2023 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Musicians, color guard, props and flags are in constant motion in this action-packed show highlighting things — manmade and from nature — that go “Up in the Air.” (Photo courtesy Tournament of Bands Region 8)

If you go...


Tournament of Bands
Pennsylvania State Championships

Where: McKeesport Area High School, 1960 Eden Park Blvd.

When: 3:15 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 28)

Tickets: $15 for adults, $10 for students and senior citizens.

When the opportunity arose for a high school in Region 8 to host the Tournament of Bands state competition this year, McKeesport Area’s band director Drew DeCarlo immediately was interested.

“Last year, it was up to a band in Region 11 to host, so we went to Altoona for the first states competition,” DeCarlo said. “This is just only the second year for States.”

With McKeesport Area’s experience in hosting competitions through its annual home show, held this year on Oct. 14, the band director let TOB know they would be glad to be considered.

A total of 15 high school bands plus Seton Hill University will be represented at states, which kicks off shortly after 3 p.m. this Saturday (Oct. 28).

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Board OK’s 1-Year Deal With Teachers’ Union

October 26, 2023 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Area School Board has OK’d a one-year tentative agreement with the teacher’s union to avert a strike.

The deal, pending approval from the McKeesport Area Education Association, would be retroactive from Sept. 1, 2023, through Aug. 31, 2024. The deal would give a new school board time to negotiate a more lengthy contract following November’s election.

The vote was 8-0, with School Director Steven Kondrosky absent.

District Superintendent Tia Wanzo called the agreement “step one” in resolving the months-long contract dispute. District educators have gone without a contract since Aug. 31.

Wanzo said she expects the union to act quickly, probably by Nov. 1: “They’re going to move quickly through the channels.”

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City Awarded $125K for Health, Food Outreach

October 24, 2023 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Illustration: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have awarded McKeesport $125,000 to work with UPMC and a broad coalition of community groups to develop a city-wide strategy to address chronic diseases, food security and access to health care.

The grant, announced Monday by city officials and UPMC, comes through the CDC’s Closing the Gap with Social Determinants of Health Accelerator Plans grant program.

According to the CDC, McKeesport is one of only approximately 15 cities nationwide to be awarded a grant from the program in this round of funding. In total, five programs in Pennsylvania have been funded since the program’s inception.

City and UPMC officials said the planning grant will be used to develop a connected and sustainable network of community organizations that can bring forth the voices and needs of the McKeesport community; plans to create more convenient, accessible and equitable access to care; and a better understanding of how diverse populations want to receive care.

A similar program called “Clairton Cares,” operated by Mon Valley Initiative and funded through the Jefferson Regional Foundation, has been praised for its positive impact on that community.

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Local Church Marking 150th Anniversary

October 15, 2023 |

By T.J. Martin | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Parishioners Ethel Balas and Karen Slobodian and priest-in-charge the Rev. Dr. Moni McIntyre are among those getting ready to celebrate the 150th anniversary of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. (T.J. Martin photo for Tube City Almanac)

Few things last for 150 years, so when something does, that longevity is often honored. One institution marking its 150th anniversary this year is St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in McKeesport and it will mark that milestone on Oct. 21, with an Open House from 1 to 4 p.m. at the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center.

The event will include refreshments and speeches from McKeesport native Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, whose godmother is a member of the church; state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-45th), a former McKeesport mayor and city councilman; and Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Ketlen Solak.

The history center is located in Renziehausen Park along with McKeesport’s first school known as the “little red school house.” That school house hosted McKeesport’s first Episcopal service in 1869.

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Start-Up Incubator Reopens in New Space

October 13, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Eric Ewell, director of continuing education at Penn State’s Greater Allegheny Campus, welcomes visitors to the opening of the new Mon Valley LaunchBox on Fifth Avenue, Downtown. Also shown are business owner Shalay Williams, founder of Care Heart CPR, and state Rep. Matt Gergely. (Special to Tube City Almanac)

Even after a devastating explosion wrecked the building where Penn State University’s Mon Valley LaunchBox was located, the small-business incubator never stopped operating — and growing.

Since 2019, more than a dozen businesses have now gotten their start through the Mon Valley LaunchBox, and with the formal opening on Thursday of its new location Downtown, there’s more room to grow, said Eric Ewell, director of continuing education at Greater Allegheny Campus.

“We’ve never stopped,” Ewell said. “We had two networking events this year that we had 60 people registered for. We just didn't have the coworking space. But even then, we offered people who were paying members at the time space on campus.”

Ewell and Megan Nagel, Greater Allegheny interim chancellor, joined State Sen. Jim Brewster, State Rep. Matt Gergely, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko and other community leaders to celebrate the LaunchBox’s new location in the former First Commonwealth Bank at 225 Fifth Ave.

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