Hall Park resident George Mushalko told McKeesport City Council on Wednesday that he's tired of hearing the community be disparaged by the media. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)
McKeesport resident George Mushalko gave a passionate defense of his hometown on Wednesday night with the vigor and spirit of someone much younger than his own 86 years.
One of five people presented with citations on behalf of the McKeesport Message Committee, Mushalko took objection to only one thing --- Mayor Michael Cherepko's characterization of him as the "epitome" of a caring person.
"I don't think I'm the epitome of a caring person because I've met a lot of wonderful people in McKeesport," said Mushalko, who was honored for upholding the value of "Respect."
Mushalko, who lives in the Hall Park neighborhood of the city, has devoted his spare time to beautifying the areas around Gordon and Barnsdale streets with community gardens and flowers.
He presented Cherepko with a bag of flower seed packets and asked the mayor to distribute them. "Ask people to sow more beauty in McKeesport," Mushalko said.
Speaking to city council, he recited a litany of ethnic, community and veterans' groups active in the city, saying they have created a "melting pot" of cultures, and added that McKeesport's amenities, including Renziehausen Park, the Rose Garden, the Carnegie Library, the McKeesport Little Theater and other attractions give residents plenty to brag about.
"I'm proud of McKeesport," Mushalko said. "I grew up here. I own a house here. And I could not buy a house anywhere else comparable to what I have in McKeesport."
He criticized a August 2017 full-page story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that compared McKeesport to Upper St. Clair --- a community of equal population, but much wealthier.
The article concluded that McKeesport residents had "a lot to worry about" including "substandard houses," "weeds" and "broken windows," and advised visitors to avoid "driving (the) streets, even in daylight."
The article "made me bleed inside," Mushalko said. "I felt so disparaged by that article." He urged city leaders to purchase their own full page in the Post-Gazette and begin rebutting the negative portrayals.
"All of the great people in McKeesport are forgotten about by the newspaper," Mushalko said. "All of the things these different organizations, are forgotten about in the newspaper. None of it is publicized.
"A few of the organizations around here like UPMC, if they can afford to donate money for fireworks, they can donate money to publicize McKeesport," he said.
Originally published January 04, 2018.