Work Begins on New Industrial Park Near West Newton

May 16, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Westmoreland County has begun work on its newest industrial park, to be located near West Newton.

At a meeting last week of the Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce in Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland County Commission Chair Gina Cerilli said the new facility in Sewickley Twp., to be known as Commerce Crossing, will hopefully begin accepting its first tenants in 2018.

The park will be located adjacent to Interstate 70, she said, adding "our goal is 150 acres of pad-ready sites."

According to county officials, the site will include direct railroad access. Cerilli said Westmoreland is hoping the site will be attractive for businesses that are related to Shell Chemical Co.'s new ethane cracking plant, now under construction near Monaca, Beaver County.

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White Oak Council Considers Upgrades for Pedestrians

May 16, 2017 |

By David Stephens | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, White Oak News

White Oak borough council could decide by August whether to pursue a project to make Lincoln Way better for pedestrians.

At Monday's meeting, council discussed the possibility of pursuing a multimodal transportation grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development to upgrade lighting, pedestrian crosswalks and signage along Lincoln Way and other side-walked areas.

The grant can also be used to add benches and trash cans to the sidewalks, borough officials said. But placing the benches would offer their own set of challenges, and some council members said it might not be worth pursuing them as part of the grant, particularly since the borough no longer has a bus route.

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Westmoreland Water Outage Affects Some Local Residents

May 15, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Residents of North Huntingdon Twp., North Versailles Twp., Irwin, North Irwin, Forward Twp., West Newton and Sewickley Twp., among other municipalities, are being ordered to conserve water until further notice.
But McKeesport, Port Vue, Versailles and White Oak are not among the communities affected by a mandatory water conservation order issued by the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, a spokesman said.

Residents in the affected communities are prohibited from activities such as watering lawns and shrubs, washing cars or sidewalks, filling swimming pools, and operating artificial waterfalls or decorative fountains.

The outage is also affecting some customers of Pennsylvania-American Water Co. in Forward Twp. who draw their water from the MAWC system, according to a PAWC spokesman.

“The repairs are making good progress, but thus far are tentative in nature, so we are unable to forecast when a return to normal service will occur,” said Michael F. Kukura, resident manager of the MAWC, in a prepared statement.

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33 Additional Homes Added to City's Demolition List

May 08, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Above: This house on Versailles Avenue is one of 33 abandoned buildings condemned by McKeesport city council. A city will seek bids from contractors in June to tear down houses as funding permits. (Tube City Almanac photo)

More than 30 abandoned buildings --- mostly single-family homes from the early 20th century --- have been added to McKeesport's lengthy list of blighted properties to be demolished.

At last week's meeting, city council voted 7-0 to condemn 33 houses deemed by McKeesport building inspector Chris House, fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik and ordinance officers to be unsafe and dangerous.

Mayor Mike Cherepko said the city is trying to target homes for demolition in nearly every ward. Abandoned houses are especially prevalent in the neighborhoods between Versailles Avenue and Jenny Lind Street.

"As part of our strategic plan, we act on citizen complaints and we target houses on main arteries," Cherepko said. "We tried hard to hit most of the areas of the city."

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McKeesport Adds Council's Support to Mon-Fayette Project

May 07, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport City Council added its voice to those of other Mon-Yough municipalities urging the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to restart work on the final stretch of the Mon-Fayette Expressway.

At Wednesday's meeting, council by 7-0 vote passed a resolution offering the "unwavering support" of Mayor Mike Cherepko and council members toward the completion of the toll road from Interstate 68 near Morgantown, W.Va., to Interstate 376 near Monroeville.

The 14-mile segment from Route 51 in Jefferson Hills to the Parkway East near Monroeville has been estimated to cost anywhere from $1.7 billion to $2 billion, according to published reports.

"This has been a roller-coaster for years," Cherepko said. "The bottom line, in my opinion, is that this is a critical component in seeing the entire Mon Valley region flourish."

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McClure, Twin Rivers Schools Will Get Simpler Names

May 06, 2017 |

By Mary Shelly | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Students who attend Francis McClure and Twin Rivers schools, and their parents, will notice a minor change in the 2017-18 academic year.

At last week's board meeting, McKeesport Area School Board voted to change the names of Francis McClure Primary and Francis McClure Intermediate to Francis McClure Elementary, and the names of Twin Rivers Primary and Twin Rivers Intermediate to Twin Rivers Elementary.

School Superintendent Rula Skezas said only the names are being changed, slightly; the entrances and classroom schedules are not being changed.

Also at the board meeting, resident Keith Murphy told the board he was concerned about the longterm effects of violence on children living in the school district.

McKeesport students "are becoming desensitized," he said. "When I hear about people getting murdered in North View Heights, these kids will smile and laugh explaining how 47 bullets went into some person ... That's PTSD."

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City Administrator Taking New Job in School District

May 02, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

After six and a half years, McKeesport city administrator Matt Gergely is leaving the job --- but not McKeesport --- behind.

McKeesport Area School Board last week named Gergely assistant to the business manager for grants and outside funding, beginning July 1, at a starting salary of $85,000. The contract runs through June 30, 2022.

A replacement for Gergely will have to be named by Mayor Mike Cherepko and McKeesport City Council. The topic is likely to be an item for discussion at Wednesday's city council meeting.

"It was a very tough decision for me, being loyal to the city and the mayor, but in the end it seemed to be the right choice for myself and my family," Gergely said Tuesday. The move was made after discussion with Cherepko and other city officials, he said, and is being made on good terms.

"Everyone here has been very nice about it, and it's been kind of overwhelming, which is a little humbling," he said.

Gergely described himself as "very excited" to move into a role at the school district where, he said, he hopes to help strengthen the working relationship between the city and the school system.

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School Board: Employee Accused of Assault Dealt With 'Appropriately'

May 02, 2017 |

By Mary Shelly | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Editor's Note: Due to an editing error, this story was corrected after publication.

A McKeesport Area School District teacher who was accused of assaulting a student* has been dealt with "appropriately," though school officials declined to identify the teacher.

At last week's school board meeting, resident Matthew Whetsell asked school directors about the outcome of the incident, rumored to have happened less than two months ago.

"While that is a personnel issue and we cannot speak publicly about personnel issues, it was handled appropriately," School board solicitor Gary Matta said.

In other business, Dr. Tia Wanzo was approved to be MASD's Assistant to the Superintendent for the 2017-2018 school year at last week's School Board Meeting.

Other administrative moves approved by the school board include:

  • Ashlee Boyle to Associate Principal at Founders' Hall
  • Brie Adams to Assistant Principal of McKeesport Area Technology Center On-Line Learning
  • David Listori to Assistant High School Principal/Special Education Supervisor
  • Wayne Wade to Assistant Principal of Alternative Education/District Security Coordinator, and
  • Pam Gordon to Coordinator of Elementary Education/Curriculum and Instruction/Pre-K.
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Area Residents Pitch in During Weekend Cleanups

April 24, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Above: Mary Rose Bendel, director of adult education and outreach at Carnegie Library of McKeesport, hands out gloves and trash bags to young volunteers on Saturday morning. Tube City Almanac photo.)

LISTEN: Residents talk about Earth Day cleanups (Duration: 9:29)

More than 150 people turned out Saturday morning at Earth Day-themed cleanup events throughout the city of McKeesport, while in neighboring communities such as Port Vue and Glassport, residents woke up early to get organized.

Tom Callahan of Port Vue was helping to man one of several large trash bins set up behind the Romine Avenue ballfields. "I do this every year," he said, adding that he was planning to be back at his post on Sunday morning as well. "It's a lot of garbage so far," Callahan said.

In the city, leaders of cleanup groups met at the Palisades on Water Street for breakfast and to plot strategy before meeting up with 15 groups of volunteers ranging from six people to more than 20 people throughout McKeesport.

One woman volunteered to clean the intersection of Walnut Street and Eden Park Boulevard by herself.

Mayor Mike Cherepko said the turnout was heartening.

"I would be lying if I said I was surprised, because here in the city of McKeesport, that's one thing that we're always blessed with is volunteers," he said. "No matter what it is --- no matter what the occasion --- this is just another example of people pulling together for the betterment of the city."

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Suicide Ruled in Death of West Mifflin Woman at County Jail

April 19, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The death of a West Mifflin woman at the Allegheny County Jail on Tuesday morning has been ruled a suicide.

Jamie Gettings, 33, was found hanging in a cell at the Pittsburgh facility just after 2 a.m., said Allegheny County Jail Warden Orlando Harper.

"Medical (personnel) responded to render medical assistance, however, she passed away," Harper said in a statement. Allegheny County Police are investigating, he said.

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