'Multiple' Pollution Violations at Braddock's E.T., Say Health Dept., EPA

November 14, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Photo: "Edgar Thomson looms" by Dan Buczynski via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)


U.S. Steel is in violation of what health department officials called "multiple" air quality regulations at its Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock and North Braddock, an Allegheny County official said Tuesday.

The violations stretch back to February 2016 and continued into 2017, said Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.

"These violations must stop," Hacker said in a prepared statement. "U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson Plant must come into compliance to improve the air quality for the health of all county residents. The health of our county is paramount."

The department, in a joint effort with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, has served the company with a Notice of Violation, she said.

 
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Boil-Water Order Lifted for Mon Valley, South Hills

November 08, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

About 100,000 people in the Mon Valley, South Hills and Washington County can drink up --- water, of course.

Pennsylvania-American Water Co. has lifted a boil-water advisory that affected customers in 55 municipalities, including Clairton, Dravosburg, Elizabeth, Elizabeth Twp., Forward Twp., Glassport, Jefferson Hills, Liberty, Lincoln and West Elizabeth, as well as Finleyville, Union Twp., Monongahela and New Eagle.

"Acceptable test results were obtained from samples collected on (Monday and Tuesday), and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has authorized lifting of the advisory," said Melissa Walters, a spokeswoman for the utility.

The boil-water advisory was issued Monday evening after PAWC technicians noticed that water samples had become "turbid," or cloudy. Water company officials said that turbidity in water can allow dangerous bacteria, viruses or other harmful organisms to flourish.

The cause of the problem has not yet been announced.

 
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Water Company Hopeful That Boil Order Can Be Lifted Soon

November 07, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Above: Clairton city officials have put a water buffalo with fresh drinking water at the municipal building. (Photo courtesy Mayor Rich Lattanzi, via Facebook.)


Officials at Pennsylvania-American Water Co. are hopeful that a boil-water advisory affecting 100,000 customers in the Mon Valley, South Hills and Washington County can be lifted within the next 24 hours.

Melissa Walters, a spokeswoman for the water company, said Tuesday afternoon that the turbidity --- cloudiness --- in the water that caused the advisory to be issued has been fixed.

"The actual issue was resolved last night, but after any boil advisory we are required by the (state Department of Environmental Protection) to have two clean water samples 24 hours apart," Walters said, "which means the earliest we can lift the advisory is tomorrow afternoon."

Some PAWC customers were urged Monday evening to either use bottled water for cooking, drinking and brushing their teeth, or to bring water to a boil, boil it for at least one minute, and then let it cool before using it.

Mon-Yough communities affected include Clairton, Dravosburg, Elizabeth, Elizabeth Twp., Forward Twp., Glassport, Jefferson Hills, Liberty, Lincoln and West Elizabeth, as well as Finleyville, Union Twp., Monongahela and New Eagle.

 
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Sentencing Rescheduled for Former State Rep Caught in Gambling Ring

November 07, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Sentencing for a former state representative caught in an investigation of video poker and illegal gambling has been rescheduled.

Former state Rep. Marc Gergely was to be sentenced on Monday by Allegheny County Judge Ed Borkowski, but court officials said a continuance was granted, and sentencing is now scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 11.

Last week, Gergely resigned from his 35th Legislative District seat, effective Monday.

In August, Gergely, 48, a Democrat from White Oak, pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy and violating state election laws by accepting cash contributions in excess of $100.

Both charges are first-degree misdemeanors carrying penalties of not more than $10,000 in fines or five years' prison or probation.

 
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PAWC Customers Get Precautionary Boil Water Order

November 06, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Above: Areas in red are affected by Monday's boil-water advisory. (Source: Pennsylvania-American Water Co.)


About 100,000 customers of Pennsylvania-American Water Co. in the Mon Valley, South Hills and Washington County were told Monday evening to boil their water before drinking or cooking with it.

Melissa Walters, a spokeswoman for the water company, said that technicians had noticed during routine testing that the water was unusually "turbid" --- cloudy or hazy-looking --- and were concerned that harmful bacteria might be present.

Turbidity is a key measurement of water safety, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In a prepared release, Jefferson Hills police said Monday afternoon the cloudiness was related to "a serious (water) main break in Jefferson Hills late last week" causing a loss of water pressure in the system, but PAWC did not confirm that detail.

Jefferson Hills was one of the communities affected, along with Clairton, Dravosburg, Elizabeth, Elizabeth Twp., Forward Twp., Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln, and West Elizabeth, and much of Washington County.

South Allegheny School District has cancelled classes for Tuesday due to the water problem, a spokesperson said Monday night, though "12 month employees" should report for work as usual.

 
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State Regulators OK Sale of City's Sewerage Authority to PAWC

November 02, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Photo by Jeff Tomovcsik via Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport website.)


Details:

  • Pennsylvania-American to pay McKeesport $159 million for the assets of its sewer system
  • All existing McKeesport authority employees will be offered comparable jobs at PAWC
  • Rates will be frozen for one year
  • PAWC will begin $62.7 million worth of improvements to the McKeesport system
  • State will require PAWC to do "ongoing, targeted outreach" to low-income customers about utility bill assistance

The state Public Utility Commission has voted unanimously to approve the sale of McKeesport's sewerage system to Pennsylvania-American Water Company.

The transaction, valued at $159 million in PUC documents, will affect nearly 13,000 customers in McKeesport, Duquesne, Dravosburg, and Port Vue, as well as thousands of additional customers in Elizabeth Twp., North Versailles Twp., Liberty, Lincoln, Glassport, Versailles, White Oak and East McKeesport whose wastewater is treated by McKeesport's sewage treatment plant, located in lower 10th Ward.

About 64,000 people are affected by the switch.

At their regular meeting Wednesday, McKeesport council voted 7-0 to authorize city officals to formally dissolve the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport, which was created in 1949 to build and operate the sewer system.

Mayor Michael Cherepko said Wednesday the city hopes to close the sale by Nov. 30.

 
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Mayor: City Acquiring Daily News Building, Plans Digital Media Center

November 01, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The city of McKeesport is acquiring the former Daily News building and is exploring the creation of a digital media center there, in cooperation with Point Park University, Mayor Mike Cherepko said Wednesday.

Cherepko told city council that officials are close to a deal with the parent company of the Tribune-Review and TribLive.com to purchase the building for what he described as "an unbelievably good price."

Details are expected within a few weeks, he said. "The Trib has truly been working with us to make this a reality," Cherepko said.

There are hopes that part of the building will be used by students in Point Park's Center for Media Innovation, which was launched in 2015 with help from a $2.5 million grant from the Allegheny Foundation. The foundation was created by the late Richard Mellon Scaife, publisher of the Tribune-Review.

"We've got a lot of ideas at this point, but to be honest with you, we don't want to close any windows of opportunity," Cherepko said in an interview Wednesday night.

 
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Dyson: Americans Need to Talk About Issues We'd Rather Avoid

October 28, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Johnathan White, Penn State history lecturer, listens Friday as author and Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson answers an audience question at Wunderley Gymnasium in McKeesport. (Tube City Almanac photo)


Michael Eric Dyson is tired of people --- in the words of the James Brown song --- "talkin' loud and sayin' nothin."

The award-winning author of 20 books, ordained minister and Georgetown University sociology professor came to McKeesport on Friday night to encourage his audience at Penn State University Greater Allegheny to engage each other in debate on serious issues of race, equality, justice and politics --- but to make sure they have the facts first.

"We need to talk about this stuff that people would rather not talk about, but you have to be informed," Dyson said. "When you have that conversation, have the facts. Just because you 'feel' something, doesn't mean you have the facts."

Dyson's latest book, "Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America," is a searing indictment of apathy and complacency in an age when Nazis and white supremacists have come out of the shadows to march in American streets.

 
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Residents Voice Objections to County's Bus Rapid Transit Plan

October 16, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Duquesne News, McKeesport and Region News

Above: Port Authority senior analyst Amy Silbermann and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald greet an audience Monday night at the Palisades ballroom in McKeesport. (Tube City Almanac photo)


Port Authority officials and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald came to McKeesport on Monday night to explain a "bus rapid transit" system that they said would relieve overcrowding and late buses between downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland.

But what residents heard was that McKeesport, Duquesne and Homestead could soon be getting 45 percent less service from the heavily traveled 61C route --- and they don't like it.

At times, the atmosphere in the Palisades ballroom was tense, with arguments breaking out at one table between residents and Port Authority board members, and Fitzgerald exchanging sharp remarks with transit advocates in the audience.

"I chose to live in McKeesport because I saw that the bus service would be beneficial to me," said Dan Beyerlein, who said the 61C is his lifeline to doctors in Squirrel Hill and Oakland, and provides a connection to his church in Wilkinsburg.

Eliminating 45 percent of the 61C's daily runs to McKeesport, Beyerlein said, would make him unable to get his connecting buses. "Then I'm late to my doctor's appointments and there's nothing I can do about it," he said.

 
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Volunteers, Students Break Ground on Grandview Greenspace

October 16, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Vickie Babyak photo special to Tube City Almanac

(Photos by Vickie Babyak, special to Tube City Almanac)


Volunteers and students from McKeesport's Youth CAST along with staff from GTECH Strategies broke ground Saturday morning for improvements to a greenspace at the corner of Grandview Avenue and Auburn Street.

GTECH, a Pittsburgh-based non-profit, has been working in the city since 2015 to reclaim and re-use vacant lots for community purposes, while Youth CAST, which stands for Communities and Schools Together, is a McKeesport-based leadership development program for young adults in grades 6 through 12.

Last year, in cooperation with students and several other local organizations, GTECH and Youth CAST developed a playground and greenspace --- called a "Green Playce" --- at the corner of Jenny Lind and Butler streets.

Above are Youth CAST members, seated, Ajayla Johnson, Calise Johnson, Paul Francis and Isaiah Johnson, and standing, Nyiana Watson, Youth CAST program coordinator Aaron Johnson, Deja Newby, Skylar Palmer, Nicora Watson, Zekeil Palmer, Denaja Newby, Sontee Peterson, Dajere Newby and Savanah Still.

More photos below the jump.

 
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