District ‘Thankful’ for COVID-19 Relief Funds

April 13, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched resources in school districts across the nation, creating deficits in funding, access to education, and access to resources. For schools in the Mon Valley, however, there is some aid on the way.

State Rep. Austin Davis announced on March 30 that an estimated $41.1 million in federal funding has been allocated to districts across the Mon Valley to help them reopen safely and address learning losses as students and teachers return to classrooms.

The McKeesport Area School District will receive $16.9 million.

“We are thankful to have those funds,” said Mark Holtzman Jr., district superintendent. “I don’t know what we would’ve done without them.”

Other districts receiving funds include:

• Clairton City School District — $4.96 million
• Duquesne City School District — $4.81 million
• East Allegheny School District — $4.82 million
• South Allegheny School District — $3.4 million
• Steel Valley School District — $5 million
• West Mifflin Area School District — $5.95 million

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Residents Speak at First Meeting After Lawsuit

April 09, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Residents who challenged McKeesport city council’s decision to close its January meeting finally got a chance to speak their minds.

At Wednesday’s city council meeting, which was streamed over the Internet, eight people asked to enter comments into the official record. Four were from McKeesport. One of the others was Allegheny County Councilwoman Olivia Bennett.

Comments were received in writing from three of the four people, including former McKeesport Councilwoman V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery, Janina Riley and Courtney Thompkins, who sued McKeesport City Council after the Jan. 6 meeting was closed to the public.

All of the comments criticized police behavior during the Dec. 20 search for Koby Lee Francis, the 22-year-old suspect accused of shooting McKeesport police Officer Jerry Athans.

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County to Issue Mon Valley Air Quality Alerts

April 09, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

County health officials will begin issuing air-quality alerts targeted to the Mon Valley, beginning on Monday.

A spokeswoman for the Allegheny County Health Department said the alerts will tell residents when weather forecasts have the potential for poor air quality.

The alerts will be sent out using email, text messages and phone calls. To receive the alerts, visit alleghenycounty.us/alerts and sign up for “Mon Valley Air Pollution Episode” notifications.

The move comes in the wake of several recent cases when air quality measured at the Liberty Borough monitor dropped below federal standards.

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County’s Elections Board to Meet Tuesday

April 09, 2021 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Allegheny County’s Board of Elections will meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday (April 13) to discuss the upcoming municipal primary election, a spokesperson said.

The Elections Division will provide an update on its plans, including discussion on preparations for polling places, poll workers and other related administrative functions.

The public may view the meeting at https://bit.ly/3uo3leN. Anyone wishing to address the board must submit their comments via email to BOE@AlleghenyCounty.us prior to 2 p.m. April 12.

Pennsylvania voters will be electing mayors, borough councils, township commissioners and supervisors, school directors and other offices. The primary will be held May 18.


City Man Pleads Guilty on Federal Charges

April 09, 2021 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A McKeesport man faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of possession of child pornography.

Michael Brooks, 54, also faces a fine of up to $250,000, said a spokeswoman for acting U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman in Pittsburgh.

Brooks entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Marilyn J. Horan. Sentencing is scheduled for July 27.

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Series on Black Women’s Health Continues

April 09, 2021 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Panelists will discuss “Political Influences on Black Women’s Health” at 3 p.m. April 15 during Penn State Greater Allegheny’s final Crossing Bridges Summit for the 2020-21 academic year.

The event is free and open to the public, and may be viewed at watch.psu.edu/crossingbridges.

The Crossing Bridges Summit began in 2017 and has become a signature program at the McKeesport’s Penn State campus. Its purpose is to bring students, faculty, staff and community members together and to bridge racial divides in the Mon Valley.

This year’s summit considered issues raised in the 2019 report, “Pittsburgh’s Inequality Across Gender and Race.”

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Some Still Reluctant to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

April 08, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Rev. Earlene Coleman, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, speaks to members of the media Wednesday. Also shown are Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, state Sen. Jim Brewster, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Allegheny County Health Department Director Debra Bogen. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)

The COVID-19 vaccine shortages and website crashes that frustrated Pennsylvania residents in January and February are not likely to be repeated, Gov. Tom Wolf said in McKeesport on Wednesday.

Joined by city, county and state elected officials, Wolf visited the city to tour a vaccination clinic set up in the fellowship hall of Bethlehem Baptist Church on Walnut Street, Downtown.

“By the second week in May, we should have reached the point where at least one dose will have reached everybody who wants the shot,” Wolf said.

The biggest issue is the number of people who remain reluctant to be vaccinated, he said — which is where churches like Bethlehem Baptist can help.

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A Note of Apology and Explanation

April 08, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

I wanted to write a quick note about the audio feed of Wednesday’s council meeting, and apologize and take responsibility for some technical problems.

I know there was intense interest in the meeting because of the lawsuit filed over access, and because residents wanted to address the Dec. 20 manhunt for a suspect accused of shooting a police officer.

We did hear from several people during the meeting that they were having trouble hearing, or that the audio was dropping out, and I apologize.

There was no intention to censor anyone’s remarks. We worked as quickly as we could to rectify the problems in real time.

• If you missed any of the audio, you can find a downloadable MP3 at our website. It was posted less than an hour after the meeting ended.

• For those who do not have the ability to listen to MP3s, there is another file on YouTube that includes the entire meeting.

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Bank Donates Former Downtown Office

April 07, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Accepting this year’s $100,000 payment toward the city’s neighborhood assistance program are Melissa Ernst, secretary of the McKeesport redevelopment authority; city Councilman Jim Barry; A.J. Tedesco, community development director and executive director of the redevelopment authority; McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko; Evan Zuverink, community reinvestment act officer for First Commonwealth Bank; Scott Vidovich, market leader for First Commonwealth Bank; Kristen Lupari, White Oak branch manager; Paul Sturgess, member of the redevelopment authority; and Stu Wilson, president of the redevelopment authority. (Submitted photo)

First Commonwealth Bank has donated its former Downtown location to the city’s redevelopment authority.

Jonathan Longwill, vice president and media relations specialist for the Indiana, Pa., based bank, said the building at 225 Fifth Ave. has been donated to facilitate ongoing redevelopment work in McKeesport’s central business district.

The bank is also participating in McKeesport’s six-year, $2.7 million neighborhood assistance program to remove blight and renovate homes, and recently presented the city with its $100,000 annual installment.

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Shopping Malls: A Retail and Social Experience

April 06, 2021 |

By Dianne Ribecca | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Opinions expressed in editorials and commentaries are those of their authors, and are not those of Tube City Community Media Inc., its board of directors, volunteers, contributors or donors. Responsible replies are welcome.

Eastland Mall in North Versailles Twp., located on a hill overlooking McKeesport and Duquesne, was demolished more than a decade ago. The mall is rumored to become the site of a new Amazon.com distribution center. (Photo by Jacob via Flickr, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

More than a decade after the demolition of Eastland Mall in North Versailles Twp., a developer is planning to build a distribution center on the property, reportedly for Amazon.com.

Most people in this area can probably remember Eastland Mall, which closed permanently in 2005. When the mall first opened in 1963, its major tenants were department stores such as Gimbels and J.C. Penney Co.

Some might even remember that the North Versailles Library was in that mall. I recall regularly going to the library with my mother and sister to pick out books.

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