School District Hires New Security Firm

March 27, 2023 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A video circulating on social media that allegedly showed a McKeesport Area School District security guard napping on the job turned into a point of contention at the school board meeting.

“What is wrong with security at this school?” asked former school director Mark Holtzman Sr., who is running in the May 16 primary to reclaim his seat on the school board. He called it “a disaster waiting to happen.”

“When a security guard is sleeping, laying around, half-dressed, bellies hanging out, I mean come on,” Holtzman said. “Stuff gotta be done.”

The school board said it is taking steps to resolve complaints, including the approval this month of a contract with a new school security firm that will eventually provide 14 guards to the district.

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Locally Filmed Movie Gets April 1 Premiere

March 16, 2023 |

By Jason A. Mignanelli | Posted in: Entertainment, McKeesport and Region News, North Versailles Twp. News

Pittsburgh and surrounding neighborhoods continue to be desirable locations to shoot films of all genres and budgets.

The region “has a little bit of everything,” said film producer and writer Mark Cantu. “You can be in a very urban environment one minute and then drive 20 minutes away and be in a very rural farming community.”

Cantu recently completed his upcoming horror-comedy, “Wolf Hollow,” filmed in and around McKeesport and North Versailles Twp.

The movie, which will premiere April 1 at Dormont’s Hollywood Theater, follows a group of filmmakers as they journey to the fictional location of “Wolf Hollow,” searching for an area to shoot a new film only to discover that they are surrounded by a family of werewolves and must fight for their survival.

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Food Services Director Updates School Board

March 06, 2023 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Fifth-grade students from Francis McClure Elementary School delighted board members and school leaders when describing the process of creating a Black History Month gallery walk at a recent school board meeting. (Adam Reinherz photo for Tube City Almanac)

Participation in breakfast and lunch programs at McKeesport Area School District is up across the board, but so are expenses.

Ryan Grados, food services director, told the school board at its most recent meeting that the department is making a profit this year, to the tune of $278,198.

“The reimbursement rate that we received was $2.46 for breakfast, and $4.31 for lunch,” Grados said. “Everybody knows that inflation is hitting us pretty hard, so the state has been generous enough to offer us a higher reimbursement rate; therefore, this year we’re receiving $2.77 for breakfast and $4.51 for watch.”

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Bus Company Sues District, Local Officials

March 06, 2023 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A local bus company that lost a contract to transport McKeesport Area School District students is suing the city, the district and several area officials, claiming its problems were caused by political manipulations.

Pennsylvania Coach Lines has filed suit in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court against the City of McKeesport, the school district, state Sen. Jim Brewster, Mayor Michael Cherepko, school director and mayoral candidate Joe Lopretto, former school Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr., and city administrator Tom Maglicco.

The company, based on Rebecca Street in the city, was replaced prior to the 2022-23 school year by Krise Transportation after parents repeatedly complained that Pennsylvania Coach Lines was canceling buses without warning, stranding students and forcing them to miss classes.

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‘Nightmare’ Month for City, ‘Horrific’ Afternoon

March 02, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport City Council opened its meeting Wednesday night with a moment of silence for slain police Officer Sean Sluganski and four people who were shot — three fatally — earlier in the day.

Two shootings less than an hour apart on Wednesday left residents and local officials again wondering what can be done to stem gun violence in the city.

Wednesday afternoon’s events were “horrific,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said.

“It has been an extremely difficult month for the City of McKeesport,” he said. “An absolute nightmare.”

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Violence Leaves City Grieving, Looking for Answers

February 27, 2023 |

By Adam Reinherz | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

SPECIAL REPORT — © 2023 Tube City Community Media Inc.

( photo via Flickr, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

After a violent three-month period that has seen three young people shot — one fatally — as well as the murder of a police officer, McKeesport residents are searching for answers.

“This was not how we grew up at all,” McKeesport Area School Superintendent Tia Wanzo said in an interview. “We went through 13 years of school and we may have had one student in our class that passed away — whether it was a car accident or something unexpected — but this is way too much. It’s too common.”

The events, she and other community members said, evidence new realities.

Wanzo recalled her actions following the Dec. 13 death of 16-year-old Chance Naylor. In the aftermath of the student’s murder, she began preparing a statement.

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Thousands Line Route of Funeral Procession

February 15, 2023 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Supporters lined Richland Avenue in Dravosburg to view the funeral procession. (Vickie Babyak photo special to Tube City Almanac)

(Written and reported by Vickie Babyak and Jason Togyer)

Thousands of McKeesport-area residents lined the route of a funeral procession for a city police officer killed in the line of duty.

Many held signs saying “We Support Our Police” or American flags as the hearse carrying Officer Sean Sluganski, 32, passed through Dravosburg and McKeesport on its way to Jefferson Memorial Park in Jefferson Hills.

Sluganski was interred just after 5 p.m. in a private ceremony at Jefferson Memorial Park. An Allegheny County emergency dispatcher broke into police radio traffic and called Sluganski’s call sign, 11-16, three times.

McKeesport police Chief Adam Alfer then responded and declared that Sluganski, McKeesport police Badge 300, “is now off-duty.”

“You have completed your mission here, and may you rest in peace, knowing that your strength and love lives on through your mother, your fiancee, your daughter, your sisters, your family and friends,” the dispatcher replied, “and your honor lives on through us all. Thank you for a job well-done, officer. You will truly be missed.”

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Private Funeral, Interment for Fallen Officer

February 13, 2023 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Map courtesy Allegheny County)

The funeral Mass for a McKeesport police officer killed in the line of duty on Feb. 6 will be restricted to family and invited friends and colleagues, officials have announced.

Officer Sean Sluganski, 32, will be interred Tuesday at Jefferson Memorial Cemetery in Jefferson Hills following a Mass of Christian Burial at 12 noon at St. Albert the Great Church in Baldwin Borough.

Police and county officials are asking residents to respect the wishes of the Sluganski family and not attend the church service, which is closed to the public. Although media will be permitted to cover events outside of the church, photography and video inside will not be permitted, a county spokesperson said.

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Supporters Urged to Line Funeral Route Tuesday

February 12, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A McKeesport patrol car has been decorated with bunting and parked at the city’s war memorial on Lysle Boulevard in honor of Officer Sean Sluganski, 32, who died Feb. 6. A city man has been charged with fatally shooting Sluganski and seriously wounding Officer Chuck Thomas Jr., 35. (Tube City Almanac photo)

After the murder of Brackenridge police Chief Justin McIntire in January, North Hills attorney Ed Kress distributed signs throughout the community saying “We support our police.”

He was hoping not to have to repeat the gesture for a long time.

But Kress and former state Rep. Marc Gergely of White Oak, who were fraternity brothers at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, found themselves pressed into service again after McKeesport police Officer Sean Sluganski was shot to death on Feb. 6, and fellow Officer Chuck Thomas Jr. was injured.

This weekend, they've been working hard to get up to 1,500 signs distributed along the planned route of Sluganski’s funeral on Tuesday.

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Study: Trace Chemicals Remain Present in Water

February 06, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Source: University of Pittsburgh and Women for a Healthy Environment)

Trace amounts of chemicals used in firefighting foam can still be detected in the water supplies of lower 10th Ward residents, almost two years after a massive fire that destroyed a local auto-repair shop.

However, says Pitt researcher Carla Ng, the amounts of chemicals known as PFAS in the water are so small that they may not be the worst exposure most people face.

“It could be that your drinking water is not your main exposure to PFAS,” says Ng, an assistant professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering who is affiliated with the university’s Pittsburgh Collaboratory for Water Research, Education & Outreach. “You may want to cut the other products out of your life that may have an even bigger impact.”

And compared to the initial samples taken in 2021, Ng says, the level of chemical contamination in the water is substantially lower, which is good news. But traces of PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, and PFOS, or perfluorooctane sulfonate, are still a concern.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also can be found in fast-food wrappers, microwave-popcorn bags, pizza boxes, candy wrappers, plastic water bottles, non-stick cookware, cleaning products, stain-resistant coatings for upholstery and carpets, and even personal care products, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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