After 130 Years, Church Gives Thanks Before Closing its Doors

June 26, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Above: Rev. Warren Smith, pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church in McKeesport, brings Communion to a worshipper on Sunday, along with Allie Tyler and Bob Katko. The church on Ninth Avenue will close this Friday. (Tube City Almanac photo)

In the summer of 1887, when McKeesport had about 20,000 residents, "25 to 30" English-speaking Lutherans gathered under the leadership of William Passavant and Elmer Crouse to found the congregation that became known as St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Church attendance boomed as the city's population grew to 55,000, said the Rev. Kurt F. Kusserow, Bishop of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod.

Now, 130 years later, McKeesport has about the same number of residents and about the same number of congregants at St. John's, which will permanently close its doors this Friday. A final worship service was held Sunday at the church on Ninth Avenue, with about 50 people --- twice the usual number of congregants --- in attendance.

"If today's closing is a dark time, if it feels like an ending or a failure, then open your eyes, because the light of Christ is shining all around you," Kusserow told worshippers on Sunday.

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Games, Ethnic Food Among Highlights at St. Angela Church Festival

June 26, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

St. Angela Merici Church, 1640 Fawcett Ave., White Oak, will celebrate its Family Festival from 6 to 10 p.m. July 6, 7, and 8.

Nightly attractions will include a huge flea market, super basket raffle, Kiddie Kingdom, gaming area, midway games, bake sale, bingo and more, a spokeswoman said. New this year is the “Bottle Flip” game.

The main food booth will include ethnic favorites such as stuffed cabbage, haluski, pierogies, grilled foods, Italian Booth (with homemade pizza and hot sausage) and other refreshments.

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Medical Marijuana Company Prepares to Start Hiring in McKeesport

June 20, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Above: Pure Penn CEO Gabe Perlow and McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko (foreground) address members of the media at Tuesday's announcement at RIDC's industrial park on the former U.S. Steel National Works site. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac.)

Local residents will soon have a chance to apply for jobs at McKeesport's newest employer --- a facility that will grow and process medical marijuana.

Gabe Perlow, chief executive officer of PurePenn LLC, said Tuesday the company will announce a hiring fair "in about two weeks" now that it's been granted one of only two licenses in the Pittsburgh region to grow and process cannabis plants for treatment of chronic pain, glaucoma and other ailments.

The announcement will be posted on the company's Facebook page, he said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Tuesday awarded 12 manufacturing licenses statewide after sorting through more than 500 applications. The other Pittsburgh-area license was awarded to a company in Carmichaels, Greene County, between Waynesburg and Uniontown.

Perlow, a Pittsburgh real estate developer, said Tuesday was a day to "celebrate the city of McKeesport."

"From a readiness standpoint, from a community engagement standpoint, the city of McKeesport has been behind us 100 percent and we really couldn't have done it without them," he said.

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Versailles Ave. Group Wants to Get Fit and 'Have Fun'

June 20, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

"Have as much fun as possible" is the motto of a new fitness group that meets Saturday mornings on Versailles Avenue to go on fitness walks.

"United Familes and Friends in Training," or "U.F.F.I.T.," meets at 11 a.m. on the first and third Saturdays at McKeesport Presbyterian Church, 1510 Versailles Ave. at Union Avenue. The next meeting is July 1.

At group meetings, runners and walkers learn the best methods for getting into condition, and then go on walks their own pace, a spokesperson said. They can also meet with other runners or walkers to train during the week.

For more information, call (724) 691-8440.


Ohiopyle, Keystone Parks Open to Deer Hunters With Permits

June 16, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

(State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources photo)

Ohiopyle and Keystone state parks will allow deer hunters to participate in a program designed to limit the number of white-tailed deer in conservation areas.

Permits go on sale Monday for the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Deer Management Assistance Program, or DMAP, which allows landowners to apply for permits to encourage hunters to harvest antlerless deer.

DMAP tags go on sale June 19, when state hunting licenses also go on sale. Hunters obtain permits directly from license issuing agents or the Game Commission website,

Too many deer concentrated in an area can cause damage to forests and crops, according to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

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Blighted, Vacant Properties Can Be Acquired Through County Program

June 15, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Applications are now being accepted from homeowners, businesses and others who want to acquire vacant lots and blighted structures in 69 municipalities in Allegheny County.
The county's Side Yard and Blighted Structure Program enables property owners to acquire abandoned buildings and lots at a discounted cost.

It's available in 50 municipalities, including --- in the Mon-Yough Area --- Braddock Hills, Dravosburg, East McKeesport, Elizabeth Twp., Forward Twp., Liberty Borough, Munhall, North Versailles Twp., South Versailles Twp. (Coulter), Turtle Creek, Versailles, West Homestead, West Mifflin, White Oak and Wilkins Twp.

Applications must be postmarked no later than Aug. 31. Up to 60 applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis with only five applications accepted per municipality in order to ensure that all may participate.

Funding for the program is provided through federal Community Development Block Grant funds, county general funds and applicant payments towards acquisition costs.

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Corpus Christi Gets Ready for Annual Church Festival

June 15, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Above: Corpus Christi Parish volunteers Marlene Rusinko is shown above operating a dough sheeter, which produces pierogi dough for cutting by John Germack and Michelle Rusinko. Vanessa Halaszynski carries the tray to the other volunteers who will stuff and pinch the pierogies into shape. The church is getting ready for its annual festival June 22 to 24. (Submitted photo courtesy Karen Check.)

Thousands of homemade stuffed cabbages and pierogies are being made right now by volunteers at Corpus Christi Parish as they get ready for the church's annual festival.

The event --- at the parish hall, 803 Market St., Downtown McKeesport --- will be held June 22 to 24. Hours are 6 to 10 p.m. June 22 and 23 and 5 to 10 p.m. June 24.

On Saturday, Jack Tady and the Tady Bears will perform during a 4 p.m. polka Mass, then will stick around to perform at the festival from 6 to 8 p.m.

Volunteers have been working on the traditional favorites during both day and evening sessions over the past month, says Karen Check, a parish member.

Another popular item on this year’s festival menu are the fish sandwiches --- the same fish sandwiches that were served during the parish’s Lenten fish fry earlier this year, and which won Corpus Christi a place among the final four of the Ultimate Fish Fry contest sponsored by The Incline website.

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Many Still Without Power After Storms; Mon-Yough Area Bore Brunt

June 14, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Almost 300 homes and businesses in the Mon-Yough area remain without power after powerful thunderstorms ripped through the area on Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday morning, Duquesne Light reported 721 customers without electric service, with 268 located in West Mifflin, McKeesport, North Versailles Twp., Port Vue, Pittsburgh's Hazelwood neighborhood, White Oak, Liberty Borough and Duquesne.

A National Weather Service map shows that the heaviest rainfall yesterday was centered almost perfectly on McKeesport, with the city and surrounding communities receiving 1.5 to 3 inches of rain.

Yet only a few miles away, areas such as Finleyville, South Park and Pleasant Hills received less than a half-inch. Moon Twp. reported only a "trace" of precipitaton yesterday, and Pittsburgh International Airport in Findlay Twp. reported none at all.

Unofficial observations in White Oak and Port Vue measured 3 to 5 inches of rain on Tuesday afternoon.

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'Like Being in a Hurricane': Area Cleans Up After Powerful Storms

June 13, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

UPDATE: The Mansfield Bridge ramps from Dravosburg to McKeesport are still closed Wednesday morning.

Above: McKeesport crews work to clear mud and debris at the end of the Mansfield Bridge after a slow-moving thunderstorm dropped up to 5 inches of rain on the Mon-Yough area Tuesday afternoon. (Tube City Almanac photo)

"It was like being in a hurricane," said one witness in Port Vue, after two powerful storms Tuesday afternoon dumped 3 to 5 inches of rain on the McKeesport area, uprooting trees, causing mudslides and flooding several area roadways.

The National Weather Service in Moon Twp. issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Mon-Yough area just before 4 p.m., warning that an approaching storm was packing 60 mph winds, large hail and torrential rains.

By 4:15 p.m., rain was falling in sheets on West Mifflin, Dravosburg, McKeesport, Liberty and Port Vue.

"We watched this hailstorm come through, and there was a pause, and then it was like it re-generated," McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko said, as he observed city public works crews trying to clear the flooded ramps at the southern end of the Mansfield Bridge.

"The first storm was already bad," he said. "The second one was crippling."

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Former Versailles Gun Shop Owner Pleads Guilty to Firearms Charges

June 13, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Crime and Police News

The outspoken owner of a Versailles gun shop that closed abruptly a few months ago has pleaded guilty in federal court to possession of illegal firearms, tampering with evidence and witness tampering.

Erik D. Lowry, 37, former owner of Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms on Walnut Street, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, Acting U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song said today in a prepared statement.

In conjunction with Lowry's guilty plea, a guilty plea to a charge of illegally selling firearms also was entered on behalf of Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms.

Prosecutors allege that Lowry sold firearms at his store and through gun shows on what he called a "cash-and-carry" basis in which he failed to determine whether or not his customers had a criminal record.

In addition, they claim, Lowry acquired what federal officials classified as a "destructive device" --- a 12-gauge shotgun with a high-capacity drum magazine --- but failed to register it, as required, with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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