Above: The representatives who signed the letter are urging the Turnpike Commission to complete the unfinished sections of the Southern Beltway —- shown in purple and orange —- before completing the northern extension of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, shown in yellow. (Map courtesy Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission)
Correction: This story incorrectly stated the party affiliation of state Rep. Brandon Neuman and state Rep. Pam Snyder. They are Democrats. I apologize for the error.
A group of state representatives —- including Elizabeth’s Rick Saccone —- have written to the Greater Pittsburgh area’s regional planning commission urging it not to recommend completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway.
Instead, the representatives —-9 Republicans, two Democrats --- say the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission should intensify its efforts to complete the so-called Southern Beltway (state Route 576) between Interstate 79 and Finleyville as quickly as possible.
About 6.5 miles of Route 576 in Findlay and Robinson townships, near Pittsburgh International Airport, is open, while another 13 miles is now under construction.
The letter to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, signed by 11 members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, refers to the proposed 14 mile segment of Pennsylvania Route 43 from Jefferson Hills to Monroeville as a “road to nowhere.” It argues that completing the Mon-Fayette through West Mifflin, Duquesne, East Pittsburgh and Turtle Creek will do little to open old factory sites to redevelopment.
The following is a commentary. Commentaries represent the viewpoints of individual authors and are not those of Tube City Community Media Inc. or its directors.
Some people are skeptical of claims by American steel companies that Chinese companies are dumping steel pipe on the U.S. market. I've heard them say it's just American companies making excuses for being uncompetitive.
Would you believe that we here at Tube City Community Media get offers to buy steel pipe from China a couple of times per week? Here's one we got just this morning. The smiley face is a nice touch.
Notice that they're selling large-diameter, electric-resistance weld pipe --- exactly the kind of pipe that U.S. Steel was making in McKeesport, and which Dura-Bond Industries is soon going to start making again.
A McKeesport teen-ager has been charged with homicide after Allegheny County police accused him of suffocating to death his four-month-old son.
De-John Johnson, 16, was arrested this afternoon after the Allegheny County medical examiner's office ruled the death of Isaiah Brooks-Leonard a homicide.
He is being charged as an adult, county police Sgt. Scott Scherer said.
The Allegheny County medical examiner's office today said Isaiah Brooks-Leonard died of asphyxiation due to smothering. The incident happened at 3:43 a.m. Feb. 6 in a home in the 2400 block of Banker Street in the city, the medical examiner's office said.
Brooks-Leonard died a short time later at UPMC McKeesport hospital, the ME's office said.
Court officials said Johnson is awaiting a preliminary hearing in Pittsburgh Municipal Court on a single charge of criminal homicide.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf talks to local and state officials during a tour of the McKeesport electric-resistance weld pipe mill recently purchased by Dura-Bond. From left, Jason Norris, president of Dura-Bond Industries (with back to camera); Wolf; McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko; state Sen. Jim Brewster; and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. (Submitted photo courtesy City of McKeesport.)
Editor's Note: This story was written from a recording of the tour.
The new owner of McKeesport's last remaining pipe mill last week told Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf that "the challenge is enormous" but Dura-Bond is committed to turning the facility around.
"We have a family ethic and we're here to create jobs and put people to work and, in turn, take care of the business, and hopefully the business will take care of us," said Jason Norris, president of Dura-Bond Industries Inc., who gave a tour on Friday to Wolf and other local and state officials.
A family owned, Westmoreland County-based company, Dura-Bond took ownership of the former U.S. Steel electric-resistance weld mill in December. The mill is not running yet but Dura-Bond is making the necessary repairs to put it back into operation, Norris said.
McKeesport Area School District residents could pay a little bit more in property taxes next year, and no one on the school board is pleased about it.
The preliminary budget of $65.7 million adopted last week by a 5-4 vote of the school board would increase the tax rate from 16.74 mills to 17.37 mills.
School Directors Ivan Hampton, Mary Jane Keller, Joe Lopretto, Patricia Maksin and Scott Smith voted in favor of the preliminary budget; James Brown, Christopher Halaszynski, Steven Kondrosky and Mindy Sturgess voted no.
"I'm not one for a tax hike, but we can blame our governors for that," Lopretto said. "Mr. Corbett has done some serious damage to all the school districts in the state and Mr. Wolf really hasn't done too much either. Mr. Trump hasn't hasn't helped us either with the Secretary of Education he put in there."
Above: Cadet Evan Reed of the McKeesport Area High School Junior Air Force ROTC program places an American flag at the city's War Memorial on Lysle Boulevard during Memorial Day observances Monday. (Tube City Almanac photo)
More than 100 people gathered Monday morning at the city's War Memorial on Lysle Boulevard to commemorate the lives of those from the Mon-Yough area who died in service to their country.
Participants included area veterans' organizations, the recently restarted Junior Air Force ROTC program at McKeesport Area High School, members of the high school band and choir, and current and retired elected officials.
Memorial Day is not just the "unofficial start of summer," McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko said. "It's very sad that all too often we forget what the true meaning of Memorial Day is," he said. "All of you who are here --- you don't forget. Let's make sure we remind others as well."
(Above: Staff of the Mon Valley Independent pose for a picture to celebrate the Monessen-based paper's one-year anniversary. Mon Valley Independent photo.)
More than a year after the closure of McKeesport's 131-year-old Daily News, two other local print newspapers are expanding into the Mon-Yough area.
Munhall's weekly newspaper, The Valley Mirror, which serves communities in the West Mifflin, Steel Valley and Woodland Hills school districts, has added coverage of Dravosburg, Glassport and Port Vue, among other McKeesport suburbs.
Meanwhile, Monessen's new daily newspaper, the Mon Valley Independent, celebrated its one-year anniversary on May 2 by beginning to sell papers in McKeesport.
At stake for both the Independent and the Mirror --- at least in part --- is the revenue from legal advertisements that Pennsylvania municipalities are required to place in newspapers of "general circulation." McKeesport officials are already considering a shift of the city's legal advertisements from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to the Mon Valley Independent to save money.