Library Homeowners Urged to Apply for Rehab Grants

October 13, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Cornell Street is part of the city's Library and Cultural District. (Tube City Almanac file photo.)

If you live in the city's Library and Cultural District and own your home, Joe Costa at ACTION-Housing wants to hear from you as soon as possible.

Costa, a housing associate with the non-profit agency, is putting together a grant request to the state's housing trust fund and is seeking homeowners whose houses need remodeling or rehabilitation work.

"We have one candidate signed up already," he said. "We need 10 candidates altogether. These could be safety upgrades, structural repairs, roof, wiring, plumbing repairs --- anything needed to keep a house up to code."

People who are interested should call Costa at (412) 281-2102, extension 2053, or email

Interested residents who want to learn more about the program are being urged to attend a meeting at 7 p.m. Oct 17 at McKeesport Presbyterian Church, corner of Versailles and Union avenues.

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Library District Targeted for New, Rehabbed Housing

October 09, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Above: McKeesport is seeking funds to build two new homes on this vacant lot along Cornell Street in conjunction with ACTION-Housing. (Tube City Almanac photo)

City officials are working with Pittsburgh-based ACTION-Housing to build at least two new homes near Twin Rivers Elementary School and renovate several others.

Last week, McKeesport city council voted 6-0 to apply to the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Fund for a grant to begin a program of new construction and renovations in the Cultural and Library District. Councilman Jim Barry was absent due to work.

The city will meet with the Concerned Citizens of the Library District on Oct. 17 to discuss the program, Mayor Mike Cherepko said.

"We have a lot of rental properties in the city, and there's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but as we continue to move forward, the true future of the city has got to be home ownership," Cherepko said.

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Nine Local Women Honored By Mon River Fleet

October 08, 2017 |

By Cami DiBattista | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Nine local women were recognized for their efforts to better the communities in which they live during last week's Mon River Fleet Women of Achievement Awards Dinner.

Residents of Braddock, Clairton, Duquesne and McKeesport were represented at the annual dinner, held at Stratigos Banquet Center in North Huntingdon Twp., to celebrate outstanding contributions to community health, government and social services in the Mon Valley region.

“The Women of Achievement dinner recognizes great women who have done great things,” said Eliana Latterman, coordinator of the Mon River Fleet and Director of Development at McKeesport Hospital Foundation.

The 2017 Mon River Fleet Women of Achievement are Jacklyn Ahern, Courtney List, Joyce MacGregor, Fawn McDaniel, Sister Mary Parks, Alison Piccolino, Susan "Suz" Rosati, Terry Ruccio and Antonietta Stolic.

Proceeds from the event, which was sponsored by the Mon River Fleet Community PartnerSHIPs, will benefit SHIP initiatives in surrounding communities within the Mon Valley.

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Trailer Debuts for TV Series Shot in McKeesport, Region

October 06, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The trailer for Netflix's new TV series "Mindhunter" will include a few scenes that seem familiar to employees of the former McKeesport Daily News.

The series, shot during the summer of 2016 partially in McKeesport and other areas around Pittsburgh, used the newspaper's now-closed building as a stand-in for the Sacramento, Calif., police department.

At least one scene (above) clearly shows the former sports and features department on the second floor and other scenes appear to have been filmed in the former composing room on the third floor, and possibly in the press room.

The series is set to debut on Netflix Oct. 13. You can watch the trailer below.

According to one source, fake memos reading "Sacramento Police Department" are still taped to a pillar in the first floor area of the office that was formerly used as the Daily News' display and classified advertising departments, indicated that some scenes utilized the first floor area as well.

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School Officials: Charter Payments Are Draining Programs

October 06, 2017 |

By Mary Shelly | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Almost 8 mills of what McKeesport Area School District collects in property taxes goes to the city's two charter schools, Propel McKeesport and Young Scholars of McKeesport, according to district officials.

At September's school board meeting, Board President Joe Lopretto said that charter school payments amounting to nearly $6 million are taking away needed revenue from McKeesport's public schools and forcing the district to make painful choices.

"Without that funding coming in it's either cut programs, get rid of teachers, or we've got to raise taxes just to keep the district going," Lopretto said. "With what we're putting out in charter school tuitions every year ... it's coming from our district and it's really hurting us."

Public school districts were once given a 30 percent reimbursement from the state Department of Education to offset payments to charters, Lopretto said, but that was cut in 2011 by former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, and has never been restored.

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Penn State Plans Outreach Center in City's Heart

October 04, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Penn State Greater Allegheny Campus will open an outreach center in the heart of Downtown to offer computer literacy classes, homebuyer counseling and other services.
Jacqueline Edmundson, Greater Allegheny chancellor, said the university is preparing a space on the third floor of the former YWCA building on Ninth Avenue in an effort to re-connect with the Mon-Yough community.

The building is also home to the Ninth Street Clinic and a temporary office for medical cannabis company PurePenn. Those tenants are expected to remain.

The Ninth Avenue location is "an opportunity for us to engage the community in a number of different opportunties, and we'll have students involved in that outreach as well," Edmundson said in an interview.

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Train Traffic Restored After Wednesday Derailment

September 28, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(CSX workers assess the damage following a derailment Wednesday in Downtown McKeesport. Almanac photo.)

The Federal Railway Administration has joined CSX Railroad in trying to determine the cause of a coal train derailment Wednesday afternoon in Downtown McKeesport.

Warren Flatau, a public affairs officer with the FRA in Washington, D.C., said investigators from the agency's Region 2 are looking into the accident, which derailed more than two dozen loaded coal cars, including three that flipped over on the ground behind the McKeesport public safety building.

It may be some time before the final cause of the wreck is determined, Flatau said, but a preliminary report based on the railroad's findings will likely be available for the public in about two months.

Train service was restored Wednesday night on one track through the derailment site, with the first train passing through at approximately 11 p.m., said Rob Doolittle, a CSX spokesman.

Trains will continue to operate while the recovery effort is underway, he said.

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A 'Really Good Day' at LaRosa Club as Pens' Letang Visits

September 27, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Above: Kris Letang prepares to run dek hockey drills with kids at the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club in McKeesport. Submitted photo)

Apparently, when you strip him of his helmet, pads, guards and playoff beard, Kris Letang doesn't look much like Kris Letang.

"A lot of the kids didn't believe it was him," says Jim Barry, director of special projects at the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club on Ravine Street, where the Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman visited on Tuesday, along with Pittsburgh attorney Edgar Snyder. "They kept saying, 'Is that really Kris Letang?'"

It was. Letang, Snyder and several of Snyder's associates spent several hours running dek hockey drills and playing games with about 14 kids, age 10 through 12, in the LaRosa club's outdoor sports pavilion. Later, the guests bought pizza and pop for everyone at the club Tuesday night.

"It was a really good day for us here at the club," says Barry, who also holds an administrative position with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania. Letang "is just like a big kid," he says. "They had fun."

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Guard Flees For Safety as Coal Train Derails

September 27, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Above: A CSX police officer guards the scene of a train derailment in Downtown McKeesport on Wednesday. Photo special to Tube City Almanac)

(Updated with comments from CSX Transportation.)
(Updated with comments from Amtrak.)

No injuries were reported Wednesday afternoon when a CSX coal train derailed behind McKeesport's public safety building on Lysle Boulevard.

Ten loaded 100-ton coal cars were toppled in the derailment, with three overturned in the parking lot of Dura-Bond Industries' electric resistance weld mill.

Witnesses said that the derailing cars narrowly missed the guard shack at Dura-Bond --- the former U.S. Steel McKeesport Tubular Operations plant --- forcing a security guard inside to flee to safety. A utility pole near the guard shack was knocked over.

"It sounded like an earthquake in the building," said McKeesport firefighter John Munsie, who watched the derailment just before 12:30 p.m. from the entrance to the fire station.

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Two W.O. Properties Proposed for Land Bank Acquisition

September 21, 2017 |

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

White Oak officials have identified two properties in the borough for possible acquisition by the Tri-COG Land Bank.

At this week's council meeting, Councilman Dave Pasternak discussed the borough’s participation in the land bank, which allows Allegheny County communities more control over the pace of revitalization within their borders.

Operated by the Steel Rivers and Turtle Creek Valley councils of government, the land bank enables municipalities to acquire tax-delinquent properties, eliminate the back property taxes, and then re-sell the properties to new owners.

“The main purpose of the land bank is to take properties in disrepair that can be (put) back on the tax rolls,” Pasternak said. “The land bank will get a percentage of taxes for the first five years, then after that the school district and municipality receive 100 percent of the taxes.”

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