Gun Violence Reduction Program Funded for Second Year

September 19, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

From left, Keith Murphy, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko and Los Angeles-based educators Angelina Arrington and Darnell Bell following an anti-violence workshop with young people at Auberle in June. The workshop was funded in part by the state Commission on Crime and Delinquency in support of McKeesport's Gun Violence Reduction Project. (Submitted photo courtesy City of McKeesport)

For the second year in a row, McKeesport has been awarded funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to support programs to reduce gun violence.

The $133,000 grant to the McKeesport Alternative Policing Strategies Initiative and the McKeesport Gun Violence Reduction Program includes money earmarked toward policing as well as mentoring and community outreach to divert young people away from violent confrontations.

The money will partially pay for an additional patrol vehicle as well as license-plate recognition, or LPR, equipment, McKeesport police Chief Adam Alfer said in a prepared statement.

"From a law-enforcement perspective, this grant allows McKeesport police to increase patrols by adding an additional vehicle to nightly saturation patrols," he said. "It also allows us to continue adding LPR camera systems to intersections throughout the City of McKeesport, which aids in solving crimes not only here, but across Allegheny County."

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Actors Bring City’s Colorful Characters to Life During History Tour

September 09, 2019 |

By Chris Baumann | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

* CORRECTIONS: This article was corrected after publication. - Editor

Paul Fields portrays McKeesport's first African-American police officer, George W. Simmons, during the 2016 Living History Tour. (Submitted photo courtesy McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center)

If you go...


Fifth-Annual Living History Tour

Where: McKeesport & Versailles Cemetery

When: 12 to 4 p.m. Sept. 21 and 22

Encore: 6 p.m. Sept. 26 at McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center

Tickets: $10 in advance; $12 at the event

More information: (412) 678-1832 or

The more that Bob MacPherson learned about George H. Lysle, the more he realized he was the ideal person to portray the legendary McKeesport mayor.

“First of all, I’m Scotch-Irish, my background is the same as his,” MacPherson said. “But I also learned that my great-grandfather, George Victor Parkins*, was a contemporary of Mayor Lysle. They were here during the same time and its safe to say they had a lot of interaction. He and Lysle were probably very close.”

The McKeesport Regional History and Heritage Center is hosting its fifth-annual Living History Tour from 12 to 4 p.m. Sept. 21 and 22 at McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery.

For those unable to attend the weekend performances, or who may not be able to walk on the tour, there will be an additional performance at the Heritage Center at 6 p.m. Sept. 26.

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Council OK's Site Plan for Barge Loading Facility

September 09, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Illustration by Desmone Architects, courtesy River Materials Inc.)

A barge and railcar loading facility now under construction near the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge will transform the appearance of the RIDC Industrial Park, McKeesport officials said.

At Wednesday's meeting, McKeesport city council by 6-0 vote approved a request from River Materials Inc. of Forest Hills to combine four separate parcels of land into one parcel.

River Materials is planning to use about 18 to 19 acres of the former U.S. Steel National Works site for warehousing, processing and recycling, as well as truck, barge and railroad loading and unloading services for power plants and other industrial customers.

Cliff Wise, president and chief executive officer of River Materials, also owns General Trade Corp., Gulf Materials LLC, Gulf Trading and Transport LLC and Specialty Steel Products.

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Downtown Businesses Ask for Help, City Officials Say It's On The Way

September 09, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Owners of several landmark businesses in the 900 and 1000 blocks of Fifth Avenue in McKeesport are asking for the city's help to address what they called deteriorating conditions on the street. (Tube City Almanac photo)

McKeesport officials are working on a plan that would provide $450,000 per year for six years to remove blight and stabilize the Downtown business district.

But owners of several longtime Fifth Avenue businesses --- including the landmark Minerva Bakery --- said their patience is wearing thin.

"It's wonderful that we're able to create new businesses, but we need to take care of the oldest businesses," said Denise Letterman, whose father, Murray Siegel, 95, owns Tube City Novelty Co.

At Wednesday's city council meeting, Mayor Michael Cherepko said the city has applied to the state Department of Community & Economic Development to create a neighborhood partnership program, or NPP, to address a high rate of vacant and abandoned buildings along Lysle Boulevard and Fifth Avenue.

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Penn State’s Partnership With City a Symbol of ‘Hope, Commitment’

September 05, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Penn State Greater Allegheny Chancellor Jacqueline Edmondson, state Sen. Jim Brewster, Penn State University President Eric Barron and McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko during Wednesday's ribbon-cutting at the Mon Valley LaunchBox, located at the former YWCA on Ninth Avenue. (Submitted photo courtesy state Sen. Jim Brewster)

There was a ribbon-cutting Wednesday for Penn State's "Mon Valley LaunchBox," even though it's not really a physical place, said Aaron Whigham, manager of strategic initiatives for the university's Greater Allegheny Campus.

It's more of an idea, an initiative and a spirit of collaboration between the campus and the McKeesport area, he said Wednesday.

"We have made a concerted effort to actually become more intentional in our efforts in the community," said Whigham, who coordinates the Mon Valley LaunchBox along with Eric Ewell, Greater Allegheny's director of continuing education.

"This has been a collective effort," Whigham said. "We're not looking to be a savior, but we are looking to provide resources to make the area that we're in stronger."

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During City Visit, Governor Discusses New Fees, Rules for Charter Schools

September 04, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf visited McKeesport on Wednesday to announce new rules for charter schools. (Pennsylvania Office of the Governor photo)

In a visit Wednesday to McKeesport, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf discussed his plan for the state Department of Education to impose new fees and rules for charter schools.

The "fee-for-service" model, he said, is an attempt to recoup costs on behalf of the state, while the new rules are designed to hold charter schools to the same right-to-know and ethical standards as public school districts.

In a speech at Twin Rivers Elementary School, Wolf said the Education Department also will take steps to establish higher performance standards for online-only, or "cyber," charter schools, which have been criticized for what critics claim are high costs and low standards of student achievement.

“While there are high-quality charter schools, some of them, especially some cyber-charter schools, are underperforming,” Wolf said Wednesday. “The state and school districts need more tools to hold charters accountable and increase educational quality.”

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Nesbit: Not Too Soon To Think About Winter

September 03, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Even with nearly three weeks of summer to go, LuEthel Nesbit of ACTION-Housing says local residents should be getting ready for winter now. Temperatures briefly hit 85 degrees in Downtown McKeesport last week, but more pleasant weather is in store this week for the Mon-Yough area. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Most Mon-Yough residents are probably still savoring the last tastes of summer and hoping for a few remaining barbecues or dips in the swimming pool.

But even though fall is still nearly three weeks away, Lu Ethel Nesbit of ACTION-Housing's weatherization program says now is the time for local residents to get ready for colder temperatures.

Nesbit, who also serves as a McKeesport city councilwoman, has been working in weatherization since 1983, originally with the Steel Valley OIC. She's currently the administrator of ACTION's McKeesport weatherization office, which serves much of the Mon Valley.

"We operate all year-round and we take applications year-round," Nesbit says. "We would prefer that they apply in the summer, so that they don’t have their doors open in the dead of winter, when they’re freezing."

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New Parking Lot Answers Need at City’s Library

August 30, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Michael Abraitis III, president of the board of directors of Carnegie Library of McKeesport, cuts a ribbon being held by White Oak Mayor Ina Jean Marton to officially open the facility’s new parking lot Aug. 9. Looking on are state Sen. James Brewster, state Rep. Austin Davis, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko and other library board members. (Vickie Babyak photo, special to Tube City Almanac)

Just a few hours after Carnegie Library of McKeesport cut the ribbon to its new parking lot, all 30 spaces were filled.

“We were all so excited,” said Colleen Rauschenberg Denne, library director, with a laugh.

The $256,000 project answered a long-standing need at the facility in the city’s Seventh Ward, which opened in 1900 with the help of a grant from steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

McKeesport’s library was the 12th of nearly 1,700 Carnegie libraries constructed in the United States during his lifetime.

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PennDOT Pledges $900K for Upgrades to County Airport

August 30, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A STAT MedEvac medical helicopter lands at Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin. The facility is one of the busiest general aviation airports in Pennsylvania, with up to 75,000 takeoffs and landings every year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. (Kevin A. Geiselman photo via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.)

A state grant will provide $900,000 to upgrade the terminal and apron area at Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin.

The grant is being made by the state Department of Transportation's Aviation Transportation Assistance Program, Aviation Development Program and Multimodal Fund, state Sen. Jim Brewster said this week.

“Allegheny County Airport is a regional resource that enhances development potential throughout the Mon Valley,” Brewster said. “An improved airport, in addition to the new Mon-Fayette Expressway and other local economic projects, creates business development opportunities for the area.”

Opened in 1931, Allegheny County Airport is the largest general aviation airport in Western Pennsylvania, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

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Wilmerding Community Center Prepares for Grand Opening at Former Y Site

August 29, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, North Versailles Twp. News

Wilmerding Community Center board member Melissa Allenbaugh shows the indoor swimming pool to John Callahan of North Versailles Twp. during the open house held on Aug. 24. The grand opening will take place Sept. 3. (Richard Finch Jr. photo special to Tube City Almanac)

Greg Jakub has been involved in the Wilmerding Community Center project ever since “the YMCA handed me the old keys and closed the door.”

At an open house Saturday at the former Wilmerding YMCA, Jakub, the borough's mayor, said he would like to see people coming to the center to socialize as well as exercise.

“We have people that used to come in here, they didn’t swim, they came to sit and gab and that’s what we want to have happen again,” Jakub said. “All the hard work is finally paying off, but we're still a work in progress and there are things that need to be done.”

The center officially opens to the public on Sept. 3.

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