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This week in 2008, from our files:
McKeesport Mayor Jim Brewster declared his intention to "fire Blue Cross-Blue Shield" as the city's health insurance carrier. The pledge came after Highmark, the Pittsburgh region's Blue Cross licensee and its dominant health care provider, raised the rate on one city plan by $620,000 --- nearly 84 percent.
Brewster scheduled a meeting with another health insurance carrier, saying: "We'll give them a little taste of McKeesport competitiveness."
The new executive director of McKeesport's YMCA said that "failure is not an option," but admitted the 120-year-old institution was struggling with an aging building, a declining number of members and serious debts. The McKeesport Y was considering a merger with the larger YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh and the possibility of selling its building on Sinclair Street.
The American Lung Association named Pittsburgh the "sootiest city" in the United States, surpassing Southern California. The dubious distinction was mainly due to high levels of particulates in the air near U.S. Steel's Clairton Works. The facility produces coke, a fuel created by superheating coal in ovens.
An Almanac editorial noted that many chemicals and medicines are made from the byproducts of coke, and that the Mon Valley needs "the high-paying, blue-collar jobs that Clairton Works and coal-mining provide, (but) we also need clean air."
Originally published May 03, 2018.