White Oak Council Considers Zoning Changes for Marijuana Clinics, Gas Drilling

September 20, 2017 |

By Cami DiBattista | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, White Oak News

White Oak council is considering changes to the borough’s zoning rules to govern how it would handle medical marijuana clinics as well as future oil and gas drilling operations.

At a public hearing Monday at the municipal building, Mike Hammond, filling in for borough Solicitor Krisha DiMascio, gave a brief overview of the purpose of each proposed change.

The borough currently has no zoning regulations governing either medical marijuana or oil and gas drilling.

The proposed medical marijuana zoning ordinance, similar to other ordinances passed across state, outlines where a dispensary could be located and provides penalties for violations.

Under the proposed White Oak ordinance, “the dispensaries (could be) zoned only in commercial and light industrial zones, meaning they (could) not be located near any schools,” Council President Ron Massung said.

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Mon-Yough Catholic Parishes Face Sweeping Realignment

September 19, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

  • Editor's Note: We would appreciate hearing from Mon-Yough area Catholics about their opinions on these proposed church groupings. Opinions can be kept anonymous, upon request. Email tubecitytiger@gmail.com.

Roman Catholic churches in East McKeesport, Elizabeth, Glassport, Liberty, McKeesport and White Oak could be put into a single "parish grouping" as the Diocese of Pittsburgh works to address a shortage of priests.

The realignment of the seven parishes --- many of which were created after church mergers in the 1980s, '90s and 2000s --- are being recommended to Bishop David Zubik by a commission as part of an ongoing initiative called "On Mission for The Church Alive!"

The diocese said no immediate church mergers are planned, and said no church buildings are closing at this time.

The groupings were announced this weekend in the diocesan newspaper, the Pittsburgh Catholic.

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Duquesne Council Eyes Improvements to Roads, Business District

September 15, 2017 |

By Cami DiBattista | Posted in: Duquesne News, McKeesport and Region News

Duquesne officials are looking to improve road conditions in the city --- and encourage shopping in its business district.

With the state Department of Transportation planning to repave portions of Route 837, city council on Wednesday voted to approve a maintenance reimbursement agreement to help maintain their portion of the project.

“As part of the agreement, we’re responsible for the curbs and handicapped accessibility ramps,” said Frank Piccolino, city manager.

The work, which will focus on the stretch of road from the Thompson Run Bridge in Duquesne to the Rankin Bridge in Whitaker, will cost the city around $18,000 and will result in repairs to the existing curbs and the installation of new ramps.

Construction on the project is expected to begin sometime next year.

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County Exec Leads Six-Day Bike Trip Through Region

September 13, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Lucy McNee, a bicyclist from Scotland who is traveling across the United States, jokes with state Sen. Jim Brewster on Wednesday morning outside McKeesport's trailside hostel. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Bicyclist Lucy McNee slept Tuesday night in McKeesport's trailside hostel and expected to hit the trail Wednesday at about "half past seven."

The audiologist from Sterling, Scotland, didn't know she and her bike, Bertie, would have to wait for an official welcoming committee.

Just after 9 a.m., Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, former U.S. Attorney David Hickton, Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas, and a delegation of other local leaders, philanthropists and their families, arrived on the first leg of a six-day bicycle tour from downtown Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.

For McNee, who is keeping a blog of her experiences, it was only the latest unexpected pleasure of a coast-to-coast American bicycling trip that is taking her from the Pacific Ocean at Coos Bay, Oregon, to West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Maine.

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Mayor, Police: City Needs Help to End a 'Sad Year' of Violence

September 07, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Saying "even one homicide is too many," McKeesport officials on Wednesday expressed frustration about the number of fatal shootings in the city so far this year.
There have been 10 murders in McKeesport in 2017, including the shootings last week of Kimberly Lesko, 55, and Melodie Robb, 52, in a home in lower 10th Ward.

Allegheny County police are investigating the Lesko and Robb killings, though they have released few details. The women, who were sisters, were buried Tuesday in Richland Cemetery in Dravosburg following a funeral Mass at St. Mary's Romanian Church in Christy Park.

The shootings have not officially been ruled homicides by the medical examiner's office. Lesko, of Versailles, was an overnight guest at Robb's home when she, Robb and a third person were shot just after 3 a.m. Sept. 1.

McKeesport police Chief Bryan Washowich told city council on Wednesday that he's reluctant to speculate in public on why homicides have increased this year. There were four homicides in McKeesport in 2016, including two from gun violence.

"We're making every effort possible to solve these murders," Washowich said. "If you ask me what the common denominator is, I have to be respectful of victims and their families, so my comments have to be limited."

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Crowds Enjoy Labor Day Weekend Rib-Fest, Car Cruise

September 04, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Crowds turned out at Renziehausen Park this weekend for the seventh-annual McKeesport Rib Fest, including a car cruise on Sunday sponsored by the McKeesport Lions Club.

Events conclude this evening with a concert by The Igniters at 7, followed by fireworks. Vickie Babyak took these photos for Tube City Almanac.

Chuck Blasko's Vogues performed at the Lions Bandshell at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Vietnam Veterans: Sam Gallo of North Versailles Twp. served in the Air Force from 1969 to 1971; Chris Tatchel served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1968; and Dan Schlegel of McKeesport, served in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1971.

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Chief: New Fire Engines Will Make City Department More Efficient

August 30, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Above: McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovscik and firefighter Jay Pravdica pose with a new fire engine added to the city's department. The city has also purchased a new ladder truck. Tube City Almanac photo.)

If you're a car buff, a 500-horsepower, 12-liter engine sounds pretty impressive. (That's about 732 cubic inches, for those of us who don't speak metric.)

But when you put it into a 52,000-pound vehicle, such as a fire truck carrying a 78-foot-long steel ladder, "it's working pretty hard," says Jeff Tomovscik, McKeesport fire chief, about one of the two new trucks recently added to the city department.

Purchased with the assistance of the federal Community Development Block Grant program, Tomovcsik says the new ladder truck and fire engine are safer, carry better equipment and are designed to fight fires more efficiently than the 1998-vintage equipment they replace.

"As well as they served the city, (the 1998 trucks) were becoming very problematic mechanically, and getting expensive to service," he says. "These trucks take a beating. We're a busy department with tight roads and a lot of hills."

In theory, better equipment also helps improve the ISO, or Insurance Services Office, fire suppression ratings for the city, which can lower insurance costs for all property owners.

The McKeesport department, whose two stations are staffed 24 hours a day by paid firefighters, answers roughly 1,400 calls per year, including 25 to 40 residential fires, Tomovcsik says.

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New Superintendent Begins 'Comprehensive Study' of School District

August 24, 2017 |

By Mary Shelly | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Area School District's new superintendent has begun a "comprehensive study" of the system.

At this month's school board meeting, Mark Holtzman Jr. told school directors that he and Tia Wanzo, assistant to the superintendent, are interviewing people in leadership roles, including labor union representatives, central office administrators and building principals.

"We're going to survey all of our teachers and support staff in our district, asking for feedback on some of the major departments, (and) how the schools operate,” said Holtzman, formerly the district's director of secondary education and teacher evaluation, who began his new role July 1.

This process is an effort to gather the core values of every school in the district. From the interviews and surveys, the board will be asked to “generate initiatives for the next five years,” Holtzman said.

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Renzie Expansion Underway as Officials Make Pitch for RAD Money

August 23, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Lake Emilie in Renziehausen Park. Tube City Almanac file photo)

McKeesport officials went to Allegheny County's Regional Asset District this week to plead their case for additional funding for Renziehausen Park.

On Monday, city Administrator Tom Maglicco and Jen Vertullo, assistant to Mayor Mike Cherepko, requested from the RAD board approximately $724,000 toward operating expenses at the park, as well as $225,000 toward capital improvements to parking areas and repairs at the park's seven pavilions.

The operating expense request is a 3 percent increase over the current Allegheny County RAD allocation of $703,000. Maglicco said the city requested the increase to cover inflationary expenses.

"We try to stress to the RAD board that Renzie is a regional asset for all of the Mon Valley in Allegheny County," he said. "We want people to use our facilities and draw people into our city and our community."

Separately, the city has received $200,000 to expand Renzie into the so-called Palkovitz property on Eden Park Boulevard behind the Pennsylvania Coach Lines school bus garage.

The money, from the county's Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund, will be used to extend Renzie's fitness trail and to add a dog park, said A.J. Tedesco, McKeesport community development director.

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Detours Planned in 2019 When Jerome Bridge Gets $13M Rehabilitation

August 22, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Tube City Almanac photo © Tube City Community Media

Work will begin in 2019 on a $13 million, year-long rehabilitation of the Jerome Street Bridge.

Yasmeen Manyisha, a spokeswoman for state Department of Transportation District 11, said rehabilitation of the 761-foot-long, four-lane bridge will be paid for with a combination of state and federal funding.

PennDOT and Federal Highway Administration officials offered an overview of rehabilitation plans for the bridge last week during a public hearing at the Palisades Ballroom.

The Jerome Street Bridge serves as the main entry to Downtown McKeesport from the west and connects West Fifth Avenue with Lysle Boulevard. It crosses the Youghiogheny River, the CSX Railroad and River Road, as well as the McKees Point Marina and the Great Allegheny Passage hiking-biking trail.

At this time, detour plans call for one lane of eastbound traffic into Downtown to be maintained throughout construction, Manyisha said, but westbound traffic --- toward 10th Ward --- will be detoured. One sidewalk on the bridge will remain open at all times, she said.

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