In a Hospital Room in McKeesport, a Story of Resilience

June 30, 2017 |

By David Stephens | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

(Kim Ursta and Jason Mollard exchange vows in the chapel at UPMC McKeesport hospital on June 13. UPMC McKeesport photo)


I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into UPMC McKeesport hospital recently to meet Jason Mollard, and his new wife, Kim Ursta.

In late November 2016, Jason was diagnosed with two inoperable brain tumors that caused him to lose his vision.

Jason grew up in McKeesport, and Kim grew up in White Oak. They’ve lived their entire lives in the area, both attending McKeesport High School, although not knowing each other at the time. The community around them has been a pillar of strength for the family in their time of need. Friends, family, and neighbors have raised funds, extended sympathies, prepared meals, and offered support in every way they can.

 
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Prosecutors: Agency Defrauded By Former Manager

June 30, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Police News

A North Huntingdon Twp. woman was indicted Tuesday in federal court on charges she defrauded the Steel Valley Authority by writing checks to herself, and her creditors, over a six-year period.

Nicolette Gizzi, 44, is charged with five counts of bank fraud and mail fraud, Acting U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song said.

Founded during the economic slowdown of the 1980s and based in Swissvale, Steel Valley Authority is a non-profit agency that arranges financing and grants to support manufacturing in 12 municipalities, including Clairton, Duquesne, East Pittsburgh, Glassport, Homestead, McKeesport, Munhall, Pittsburgh, Rankin, Swissvale, Turtle Creek and West Homestead.

SVA also operates a statewide program designed to help manufacturers restructure their businesses to avoid layoffs. The authority is funded primarily through federal grants.

Gizzi was the financial manager for SVA, prosecutors said. They allege that beginning in December 2009 and continuing through June 2016, Gizzi issued checks to herself and her credit card company from SVA's account, forging the required signatures.

 
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Two Charged in Wrestleplex Burglary

June 30, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Police News

Two McKeesport residents face formal arraignment Aug. 25 in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court in connection with a burglary at the PWX Wrestleplex on Beacon Street.

Larry D. Bryan, 39, and Brian L. Kellum, 38, are charged by McKeesport police with burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and theft by unlawful taking. Bryan is currently free on $5,000 percentage bond, court officials said, while Kellum is free on his own recognizance.

Police said they are still seeking a possible accomplice in the break-in.

The Wrestleplex is a venue for professional wrestling which also broadcasts events on the Internet. According to a police report, McKeesport police were dispatched to the facility off Evans Avenue just before 8 a.m. June 10.

 
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Local Reps Praise Decision on Mon-Fayette Expressway

June 30, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: News

Two McKeesport-area state representatives are praising the decision by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission to recommend completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway through the Mon-Yough area.

The commission, which oversees infrastructure planning for 10 counties, including Allegheny, voted 48 to 4 on Monday to include the 14-mile extension of the toll road into the region's transportation master plan.

The extension would take the highway, also known as Pennsylvania Route 43, from its current northern end in Jefferson Hills through West Mifflin, Dravosburg, Duquesne, East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek and Wilkins Twp. to the Parkway East in Monroeville.

“We would like to publicly acknowledge the members of the (SPC) and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald for their hard work and willingness to work together in taking the next step toward bringing this important transportation project closer to reality," said state Reps. Bill Kortz of Dravosburg and Marc Gergely of White Oak, in a joint statement.

 
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Crime Stoppers Seeks Help in May Homicide

June 30, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Police News

Crime Stoppers is asking for the public’s help in connection with the investigation of a murder on Wesley Street in May.

McKeesport police were called to a home in the 1800 block of Wesley Street just after 10 p.m. May 27 after receiving reports that a man had been shot there. Police found Antonio Wallace, 31, lying on the living room floor and suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the back.

Wallace was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

 
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Community Shredding Event in Norwin July 15

June 27, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Parkview Community Federal Credit Union will hold a community-wide shredding event at 10 a.m. July 15 in the parking lot of Norwin Middle School, 10870 Mockingbird Drive, North Huntingdon Twp., a spokeswoman said.

Although the event is free, the McKeesport-based credit union is asking all participants to make a donation to benefit Jamie's Dream Team.

The event will end at 1 p.m. or when the truck is full.

Personal unwanted documents will be shredded on site by the same company the credit union uses, the spokewoman said.

 
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Storm Damage Tops Discussion for White Oak Council

June 27, 2017 |

By David Stephens | Posted in: News

Two major thunderstorms that rocked the Mon Valley took their toll on White Oak, officials and residents said at the June 19 council meeting.

James Eiben, a resident of Ohio Street, told borough council that following the storms, his basement had two feet of water, and that the new storm drains are constantly flooding onto the street.

Meanwhile, the borough is looking for a replacement for the traffic light in front of Busy Beaver on Lincoln Way, which was damaged by a falling tree during one storm.

The damage was extensive and a new pole is needed, officials said. The problem is that the pole is an older, four-bolt model, but newer poles use three bolts. Borough officials said that if White Oak crews can find a replacement four-bolt pole they can have the light repaired in a couple weeks; if they can't find one, it could take a few months to put the signal back into service.

A temporary all-way stop sign was placed at the intersection pending the signal's repair.

 
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After 130 Years, Church Gives Thanks Before Closing its Doors

June 26, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: 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: 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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