S.A. Schools Closed Through April 13

March 13, 2020 |

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

South Allegheny School District has joined a growing list of Pennsylvania school districts that are closing for four weeks during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is not the school year we envisioned for our children,” said Lisa N. Duval, district superintendent. “I hope you will talk to your children about their concerns and listen to their disappointment.

“If we can show sympathy for those who are ill or caring for sick family members, empathy for each other and patience during an extraordinary time, we will end up stronger,” she said.

In a letter to parents, students and staff, Duval said that all use of school district facilities is suspended, and all activities — including field trips and student travel, athletic team practices and other gatherings — also is suspended until further notice.

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McKeesport Schools Closed Through April 14

March 13, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Area School District will be closed through April 14, the district announced via Facebook.

“At this time, the McKeesport Area School District has decided to close all campuses through spring break,” the district said. “Classes are tentatively scheduled to resume in McKeesport Area School District schools on Tuesday, April 14. In the event that this date would change, we will communicate that in a timely fashion.

“Please know that we understand the challenges and stress that a prolonged closure will put on our families. However, we believe that shutting down our campuses is in the best interest of protecting the health and welfare of every member of our educational community, especially those at a higher risk of contracting coronavirus. We will be here to assist our families in any way that we can during this time.”

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Local Agencies, Groups Taking Virus Precautions

March 13, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Serra Catholic High School was closed Friday for sanitization, the Diocese of Pittsburgh announced, but students were working remotely. All Catholic schools in the diocese will be closed Monday as teachers prepare for an possible extended period of online instruction. (Photo courtesy Serra Catholic High School)

Although no confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been reported in Allegheny County on Friday morning, local schools and agencies said they are taking precautionary measures.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said that three local schools — Serra Catholic High School in the city and two elementary schools, St. Therese in Munhall and East Catholic in Forest Hills, were closed for cleaning.

A few students and adults from St. Therese, East Catholic and St. Bede elementary in Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are being kept out of school for 14 days, the diocese said.

Students at Serra Catholic were receiving online instruction on Friday, the diocese said.

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Costa Talks COVID-19 Strategy at AIU Panel

March 13, 2020 |

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

State Senate Majority Jay Costa of Forest Hills spoke at a public forum Thursday night organized by Allegheny Intermediate Unit. (Richard Finch Jr. photo for Tube City Almanac)

Allegheny Intermediate Unit scheduled a legislative forum on public education Thursday night in Homestead.

But the forum, attended by local school board members and district superintendents, quickly turned into a discussion of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Pennsylvania, and what legislators in Harrisburg are doing to protect residents.

The event at the AIU central office was moderated by Jon Delano, KDKA-TV (2) money and politics editor.

State Sen. Jim Brewster, D-McKeesport, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills and state Rep. Dan Miller participated in the panel. Joseph Shaulis, AIU general counsel, said all Allegheny County lawmakers were invited to attend.

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Port Vue R.C. Church to Close Permanently

March 12, 2020 |

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

(Photo special to Tube City Almanac)

The former St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Port Vue will close permanently this month.

In a decree dated Feb. 21, Bishop David Zubik said the decision was made at the request of parishioners who were concerned that the condition of the building and the cost of necessary repairs represented “a grave threat” and presented “critical financial difficulties.”

St. Joseph merged with the former St. Eugene Church in Liberty Borough in 1993 to become St. Mark Parish. St. Mark is now part of a regional grouping of churches that also includes St. Michael in Elizabeth Twp. and Queen of the Rosary in Glassport.

The final Mass at the St. Joseph site will be celebrated at 6:30 p.m. March 19, the parish and diocese announced, and the building will be turned over for non-sacred “but not sordid” uses, Zubik said.

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City Pursuing High-Tech Solution to Gun Violence

March 06, 2020 |

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

A technician works in ShotSpotter’s incident review center. McKeesport officials are investigating whether or not the technology can be brought to the city with the help of a federal grant. (Submitted photo)

City officials are seeking a federal grant to bring gunshot detection technology to McKeesport in an effort to respond more quickly to incidents.

At Wednesday’s meeting, city council authorized Mayor Michael Cherepko’s administration to apply for a grant through the U.S. Justice Department’s Community Policing Development program to acquire “ShotSpotter” technology.

ShotSpotter, based in Newark, Calif., uses an network of electronic sensors to detect gunfire, pinpoint its exact location, and then alert police. The company says that its system depends on artificial intelligence to analyze the sounds of loud noises and that it ignores things like thunder, fireworks and trucks backfiring.

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Riders Ask Hard Questions at Transit Meeting

March 05, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Steve Schonberger of McKeesport talks to state Sen. Jim Brewster before a meeting to discuss public transit on Wednesday night at the Palisades ballroom, Downtown. Officials from Port Authority of Allegheny County are collecting public comments as they prepare a long-range transportation plan. (Photo courtesy state Sen. Jim Brewster, via Facebook)

Riders who attended a meeting Wednesday evening about long-range planning for public transit questioned how the meetings were being advertised — and why electronic fare cards still remain hard to get in McKeesport and elsewhere.

At a “listening session” convened by Port Authority of Allegheny County at the Palisades ballroom, one rider said he was tired of excuses about the ConnectCard system, which is supposed to replace cash fares on buses and light-rail vehicles.

“We were promised a ConnectCard location” at the McKeesport Transportation Center, said Steve Schonberger, a city resident. “It never happened. Other elected officials are getting them — but still none in Senator (Jim) Brewster’s office. The Shop ’n Save (on Fifth Avenue) stopped selling ConnectCards, so if you live in this part of McKeesport, you’re out of luck.

“I’m tired of excuses and I’m tired of hearing that you’re ‘planning’ to do it,” he said. “I’m tired of it.”

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Local Leaders Discuss Solutions
to Shared Problems

March 04, 2020 |

By Nick Zurawsky | Posted in: Duquesne News, McKeesport and Region News

Duquesne Mayor Nickole Nesby speaks during a town hall Feb. 26 sponsored by Take Action Mon Valley. (Nick Zurawsky photo for Tube City Almanac)

Community leaders discussed issues ranging from water quality and access to public transportation, to police accountability and merging public services during a forum hosted by Take Action Mon Valley.

The event was held Feb. 26 at the gymnasium of the Salvation Army in McKeesport. About 20 people attended.

Elected officials at the meeting included Allegheny County council members Bethany Hallam and Olivia Bennett as well as Duquesne Mayor Nickole Nesby.

Nesby was the first to speak and said her priorities in Duquesne are combatting “not only street violence and gang violence, but structural violence.”

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Local Officials Urge Calm,
Common Sense in Virus Response

March 03, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Courtesy World Health Organization)

Local officials are encouraging residents to stay informed and use common-sense precautions as “coronavirus disease 2019” spreads in the United States.

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus — officially known as COVID-19 — in Pennsylvania, but with more than 100 cases reported in 15 states, experts say its entry into our area is “inevitable.”

On Friday, Steel Valley School District Superintendent Edward Wehrer reported that two staff members had traveled outside of the U.S. to areas where COVID-19 has been confirmed.

“Because the district makes the safety and overall health of all staff and students a top priority, these employees have been instructed to not report to work until the incubation period for the virus has passed and they have been cleared by a medical professional,” Wehrer said in a prepared statement.

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Developers, Funders Excited
About Possibilities in City

February 28, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Conflict of Interest Note: The author has a conflict of interest. He is a member of the McKees Point Development Group. See previous coverage of this issue and the note at the end of this story.

The developers and financial backers behind a six-year, $2.7 million project to remove blight in the city’s Downtown business district said this week they’re excited about the possibilities.

Members of McKees Point Development Group held a public hearing Wednesday at the Public Safety Building to outline the city’s goals for the first year of the Neighborhood Assistance Program, or NAP.

The program is being funded through tax credits and investments by Duquesne Light, First Commonwealth Bank, Noble Energy and UPMC Health System.

“McKeesport has a tremendous opportunity to move forward,” said Dennis Troy, president of DTI Development, which is talking to the city about partnering on several redevelopment projects.

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