LISTEN: What does "fair housing" mean? How does it affect tenants? How does it affect landlords? What sorts of discrimination are forbidden under fair housing laws? How can someone protect themselves? Jim Haughey and Angelia Christina of McKeesport Housing Corp. explain. (Duration: 29:51 minutes)
In celebration of Fair Housing Month, the City of McKeesport hosted its second annual Fair Housing Workshop on April 26 at the Palisades. This year’s event welcomed representatives of the Fair Housing Law Center to define the Fair Housing Act, describe who it protects, and share guidelines on how landlords can successfully abide by the law.
The McKeesport Community Development Department and the Fair Housing Law Center distributed informational pamphlets and quick-reference guides on individuals’ rights to fair housing, additional resources for those with disabilities, and tips to recognize discrimination.
“In the City of McKeesport, where more than 50 percent of our housing stock is made up of rental properties, it’s is important that our tenants understand their rights and that our landlords understand their responsibilities,” said A.J. Tedesco, McKeesport’s community development director.
“We want to be sure that everyone in McKeesport is linked to the appropriate resources associated with fair housing concerns," he said.
Above: This house on Versailles Avenue is one of 33 abandoned buildings condemned by McKeesport city council. A city will seek bids from contractors in June to tear down houses as funding permits. (Tube City Almanac photo)
More than 30 abandoned buildings --- mostly single-family homes from the early 20th century --- have been added to McKeesport's lengthy list of blighted properties to be demolished.
At last week's meeting, city council voted 7-0 to condemn 33 houses deemed by McKeesport building inspector Chris House, fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik and ordinance officers to be unsafe and dangerous.
Mayor Mike Cherepko said the city is trying to target homes for demolition in nearly every ward. Abandoned houses are especially prevalent in the neighborhoods between Versailles Avenue and Jenny Lind Street.
"As part of our strategic plan, we act on citizen complaints and we target houses on main arteries," Cherepko said. "We tried hard to hit most of the areas of the city."
McKeesport City Council added its voice to those of other Mon-Yough municipalities urging the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to restart work on the final stretch of the Mon-Fayette Expressway.
At Wednesday's meeting, council by 7-0 vote passed a resolution offering the "unwavering support" of Mayor Mike Cherepko and council members toward the completion of the toll road from Interstate 68 near Morgantown, W.Va., to Interstate 376 near Monroeville.
The 14-mile segment from Route 51 in Jefferson Hills to the Parkway East near Monroeville has been estimated to cost anywhere from $1.7 billion to $2 billion, according to published reports.
"This has been a roller-coaster for years," Cherepko said. "The bottom line, in my opinion, is that this is a critical component in seeing the entire Mon Valley region flourish."
Students who attend Francis McClure and Twin Rivers schools, and their parents, will notice a minor change in the 2017-18 academic year.
At last week's board meeting, McKeesport Area School Board voted to change the names of Francis McClure Primary and Francis McClure Intermediate to Francis McClure Elementary, and the names of Twin Rivers Primary and Twin Rivers Intermediate to Twin Rivers Elementary.
School Superintendent Rula Skezas said only the names are being changed, slightly; the entrances and classroom schedules are not being changed.
Also at the board meeting, resident Keith Murphy told the board he was concerned about the longterm effects of violence on children living in the school district.
McKeesport students "are becoming desensitized," he said. "When I hear about people getting murdered in North View Heights, these kids will smile and laugh explaining how 47 bullets went into some person ... That's PTSD."
May 1-7, 2007: A district magistrate threw out harassment charges filed against a Versailles woman who put a sign in her front yard criticizing the borough's dog warden and the president of council. Carolyn Leitzell accused Ken Ferree of Ferree Kennels and Council President Walter Winkler of cruelty to animals; they denied the allegations, while District Judge Edward Tibbs dismissed the harassment charge.
Members of the Elizabeth Forward High School band were passengers on a school bus that collided with a tractor-trailer on the Pennsylvania Turnpike between the Morgantown and Downingtown interchanges, shutting down the toll road for several hours. The driver was seriously hurt and 30 other people sustained what were described as "minor injuries."
An Elizabeth Township resident wrote to the Daily News to complain because there were no dancers of "American" ethnicity at McKeesport's International Village. She suggested that square dancing be added to the entertainment.
Partial lane restrictions are likely for the remainder of the week on the ramp that takes motorists from the Duquesne-McKeesport Bridge to southbound Route 837, said a district official for the state Department of Transportation.
In addition, the shoulder of the ramp also will be closed for motorists who exit the bridge and head to Dravosburg and Clairton, the PennDOT spokesman said.
Weather permitting, restrictions will be in place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today (May 3) through Friday. All ramps and the bridge will remain open. Crews from Pittsburgh Rigging Company and AECOM are doing work on the bridge's concrete piers, PennDOT said.
After six and a half years, McKeesport city administrator Matt Gergely is leaving the job --- but not McKeesport --- behind.
McKeesport Area School Board last week named Gergely assistant to the business manager for grants and outside funding, beginning July 1, at a starting salary of $85,000. The contract runs through June 30, 2022.
A replacement for Gergely will have to be named by Mayor Mike Cherepko and McKeesport City Council. The topic is likely to be an item for discussion at Wednesday's city council meeting.
"It was a very tough decision for me, being loyal to the city and the mayor, but in the end it seemed to be the right choice for myself and my family," Gergely said Tuesday. The move was made after discussion with Cherepko and other city officials, he said, and is being made on good terms.
"Everyone here has been very nice about it, and it's been kind of overwhelming, which is a little humbling," he said.
Gergely described himself as "very excited" to move into a role at the school district where, he said, he hopes to help strengthen the working relationship between the city and the school system.
McKeesport Art Group's 59th annual Spring Art Show will be held from May 19 to 21 at Jacob Woll Pavilion, Renziehausen Park.
Group president Jan Catalogna said artists of all types and skill levels --- including pen and ink artists, painters, watercolorists, sculptors and photographers --- are encouraged to participate. The show also has a special category for student artists.
In addition, this year's show will include an instructional painting class at 1 p.m. May 20. No previous art classes or training are necessary, she said, and participants of all skill levels are invited.
After little more than a year, Andrew Egan has resigned as chancellor and chief academic officer at Penn State Greater Allegheny Campus in McKeesport.
Penn State on Thursday announced Egan's resignation and the appointment of Jacqueline Edmondson, Penn State associate vice president and associate dean for undergraduate education, as the new chancellor and chief academic officer for the 600 student undergraduate campus.
Edmondson has been appointed for a three-year term and will lead a national search for her own permanent replacement, the university said in a statement.
“Jackie brings tremendous knowledge of the university to this position, along with her experience as an accomplished leader in program and curriculum development, and general education," said Madlyn Hanes, Penn State vice president for commonwealth campuses and executive chancellor.
"She will provide excellent guidance and directions, with deep understanding of enrollment trends, the teaching-learning enterprise, and faculty development across the University,” Hanes said. “Jackie also appreciates the importance of our campuses to their respective communities, and the good that comes from collaborative ventures.”