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Executive Bldg. Coming Back to Life

January 13, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Condemned signs have been removed from the Executive Building, Downtown, whose new owner, Jonathan Stark, has four potential tenants ready for the first floor. (Tube City Almanac photo)


Although the “Condemned” notices were recently removed from the doors of the Executive Building on Fifth Avenue, don’t expect to see a movie at the Quad Cinemas in the basement any time soon.

The seats and projection equipment are long gone, but the four auditoriums are still there, and they’re still plagued by the same problem that forced the theaters to close in 1980 — they’re prone to flooding.

“They’re more than 20 feet below street level,” said Jonathan Stark, who purchased the building in April 2020.

While the old theater spaces are likely to stay vacant, four tenants have signed letters of intent for the storefronts along Fifth Avenue, Stark said.

 
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Downtown Park-Ride Lot to Close for Upgrades

January 13, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The Downtown park-and-ride lot will be closed through the end of the year while Port Authority of Allegheny County makes improvements to the facility. (Tube City Almanac photo)


The McKeesport Transportation Center will close Saturday for the remainder of the year as Allegheny County’s transit agency begins the second phase of improvements to the facility.

A spokesperson for Port Authority of Allegheny County said the work will include four new bus shelters with benches, 19 additional parking spaces, two bus ticket vending machines and improved access for bicycle riders who want to use the Great Allegheny Passage trail.

In addition, a restroom building will be constructed for bus drivers and the sewerage system at the site will be improved to accommodate more rainwater runoff through use of an underground retention tank.

The cost of the improvements is $3.4 million.

 
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Court Fight Over, Brewster to Take Oath

January 12, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

Linda Brewster and her husband, state Sen. Jim Brewster, at his 2017 swearing-in at the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Brewster is scheduled to take the oath Wednesday morning after a federal judge dismissed a challenge filed by his opponent, Nicole Ziccarelli of Lower Burrell. (Courtesy office of state Sen. Jim Brewster)


State Sen. Jim Brewster will be sworn in for his third full term representing the 45th District on Wednesday morning at 11 a.m.

The decision by Pennsylvania Republicans to seat Brewster came Tuesday afternoon, after a federal judge in Pittsburgh dismissed a lawsuit filed by Brewster’s opponent that challenged the results of the Nov. 3 election.

Allegheny County Judge David Spurgeon of White Oak is scheduled to administer the oath to Brewster, Democrat from McKeesport.

“I just feel so relieved, for my family, my friends, my staff and for all of the people in the 45th District, no matter who they voted for,” Brewster said Tuesday night, as he worked through some 300 messages from well-wishers congratulating him on his victory, as well as from news reporters from around the United States asking for comment.

 
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Sanders to Team: ‘Mistakes Are Very, Very Costly’

January 11, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Corry Sanders speaks to members of the McKeesport Tigers men’s varsity basketball team. The longtime barbershop owner now works for the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office and for Pittsburgh’s Center for Victims. (Mike Manko photo, special to Tube City Almanac)


Corry Sanders went to the McKeesport Senior High School gymnasium last week with a simple message for the men’s varsity basketball team.

“Mistakes are very, very costly nowadays,” Sanders told about 20 members of the squad on Thursday night. “You might not be blessed with an opportunity to choose again.

“This is not a ‘Call of Duty’ game on Xbox, where you get a reset button,” he said.

 
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Plant Will Grow Food, Jobs in Duquesne

January 11, 2021 |

By Jason A. Mignanelli | Posted in: Duquesne News

(Editor’s Note: This is the first of two planned articles. The second will explore community reaction to the project.)

An architect’s rendering shows what In City Farms’ Duquesne facility will look like. Construction is expected to begin soon. (Submitted image courtesy In City Farms)


Minnesota entrepreneur and businessman Glenn Ford is looking not only at creating jobs in Duquesne but also addressing the problem of food insecurity.

“Community engagement is much more than a marketing pitch for us,” said Ford, chief executive officer of In City Farms, which has recently purchased 25 acres of land at RIDC’s City Center of Duquesne, the industrial park where U.S. Steel’s Duquesne Plant operated until 1984.

“Our facility is being built literally a block away from where nearly 1,500 people waited in line at the local food bank during COVID,” Ford said in a recent interview with Tube City Almanac. “We want to be a part of fixing this food shortage.”

 
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Duquesne Budget Includes Tax Increases

January 11, 2021 |

By Nick Zurawsky | Posted in: Duquesne News

Duquesne City Council has approved a budget for 2021 that includes a boost in spending of about $73,000.

Increased expenditures will be paid for by a combination of a wage tax increase, a property tax increase, and improved water bill collections, city officials said.

Last year was to have been the first year since 1991 that Duquesne was not included under the state’s Act 47, the Financially Distressed Municipalities Act, where the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development assists municipalities that are experiencing severe financial difficulties to ensure residents’ health, safety and welfare.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city’s participation in the program has been extended.

“We are anticipating that we should be out of Act 47 real soon,” Mayor Nickole Nesby said.

 
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Questions Raised After Meeting Closed to Public

January 06, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A former McKeesport city councilwoman is encouraging supporters to call officials and voice their displeasure after Wednesday’s council meeting was closed to the public.

In a video posted to Facebook Live, Fawn Walker-Montgomery, co-founder of Take Action Mon Valley and a candidate for state representative in 2018, said Wednesday night she planned to file a complaint against the city for allegedly violating the state’s Open Meetings Law, commonly called the “Sunshine Act.”

“There are so many violations that are happening here right now,” Walker-Montgomery said.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said the decision to close the meeting was made due to the sharply increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the region.

“This is only going to happen for a couple of months,” he said. “We’re hoping no more than two or three meetings before we’re in the clear.”

 
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Source of Gas Odor Undetermined

January 06, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, North Versailles Twp. News, White Oak News

A strong odor reported by residents of McKeesport, North Versailles Twp. and White Oak on Tuesday night was not a natural gas leak, a spokesman said.

Allegheny County emergency personnel said firefighters were dispatched to several locations along Route 48 just after 7 p.m. after 9-1-1 callers said they smelled natural gas.

But Barry Kukovich, spokesman for Peoples Gas, said there were no gas leaks or any service problems reported in Route 48 corridor on Tuesday night.

Natural gas is odorless, and the “gas smell” actually comes from a chemical called methyl mercaptan, which is designed to help customers detect a leak.

Kukovich said that it’s possible that a truck carrying mercaptan, or a similar chemical, passed through the area on Tuesday night, but the smell was not related to Peoples Gas.

 


What Others Are Saying About Senate Dispute

January 05, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Tuesday’s decision by the Republican majority in the Pennsylvania State Senate not to seat state Sen. Jim Brewster of McKeesport has made national and international headlines, with even a cartoonist from Nairobi, Kenya, weighing in.

Here’s what some media outlets are saying:

 
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Anger, Chaos as Senate Denies Oath to Brewster

January 05, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Politics & Elections

(This story was written by Jason Togyer from press pool reporting by Elizabeth Hardison of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, with additional coverage from the official video feed of the Pennsylvania State Senate at pasen.gov.)


State Sen. Jim Brewster of McKeesport poses for a photo with state Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia before Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony. The Republican leadership is holding Brewster’s 45th District seat vacant after an election challenge by Nicole Ziccarelli of Lower Burrell. (Photo via Twitter @SenatorHughes)


Shouting broke out in the Pennsylvania senate on Tuesday after the Republican majority refused to swear-in state Sen. Jim Brewster of McKeesport for his third full term.

The dispute has turned a national political spotlight on the 45th Senatorial District, which includes the city, most of the Mon Valley, Monroeville, Plum and part of the Alle-Kiski Valley in Westmoreland County, and which is now without a state senator.

Republican senate leaders have not said when they expect to resolve the situation, but Democrats are vowing to fight to get Brewster sworn back into office.

Brewster has been certified by both state and county officials with winning re-election to the 45th District by fewer than 70 votes. During a swearing-in ceremony Tuesday afternoon, he stepped forward to take the oath of office along with nine other Democratic senators.

But state Sen. Jake Corman, Republican of Centre County, serving as president pro tempore, said the oath would not be administered unless Brewster left the rostrum.

 
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