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McKeesport's 'Crown Jewel' Prepared for Sale

January 19, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photo special to Tube City Almanac)


Amazon.com? Your new Pittsburgh-area headquarters is waiting at the corner of Walnut and Lysle.

If not Amazon, says city resident Regis Mellinger, why not Apple Inc.? The company has announced plans to re-invest $350 billion in the U.S. economy --- why couldn't it be in McKeesport?

Mellinger, a sales associate for Howard Hanna Wilson Baum Agency and the operator of the "Positive McKeesport" Facebook group, knows it's far-fetched to think that Apple or Amazon would want to open an office in the city.

But Mellinger doesn't think it's a crazy idea to envision the 112-year-old People's Union Bank Building --- which has just gone up for sale at $400,000 --- as the headquarters for a high-tech company, or as loft apartments.

 
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New Detox Unit at UPMC McKeesport Addresses 'Growing Epidemic'

January 18, 2018 |

By Lynne Glover | Posted in: News

A view of the new inpatient detox and rehab unit at UPMC McKeesport --- the only one of its kind in Allegheny County. (Submitted photo courtesy UPMC)


Every day in Allegheny County, between six and 14 people are admitted to a hospital emergency room after an overdose, according to a 2016 study by the county's departments of Health and Human Services.

With its soon-to-open detoxification and rehabilitation unit, UPMC McKeesport is “stepping up to address the growing epidemic,” says Mark Sevco, hospital president.

Epidemic indeed: In 2016 and 2017, there were 35 fatal overdoses in the McKeesport zip code, 15132.

On Jan. 10, one day before UPMC McKeesport held an open house for its soon-to-open inpatient detox and rehab unit, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf declared the heroin and opioid epidemic a statewide disaster emergency.

 
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Emergency Work Begins on Executive Building; Street Still Closed

January 12, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photos special to Tube City Almanac)


City officials are hopeful that the 300 block of Fifth Avenue will reopen early next week after demolition crews finish removing damaged bricks from the facade of the Executive Building.

The street was closed Jan. 5 after part of a decorative brick pillar on the Ringgold Street side of the building collapsed on the sidewalk. Similar cracks were spotted in the brick pillars on the Fifth Avenue facade as well, leading the city to close the street to through traffic.

Betters Company of Lincoln Borough is working to remove the damaged sections of the pillars from the five-story brick office building. The building has been vacant since late December, when the final tenants were forced to leave.

 
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Minor Flooding Reported in District as Region Braces for Icy Blast

January 12, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photos special to Tube City Almanac)

Minor flooding closed several area roadways on Friday morning as the Mon-Yough area braced for another icy blast.

Melting snow, followed by steady rain, caused ponding in low-lying areas, including along Route 837 in Dravosburg.

The unseasonably warm temperatures on Thursday and Friday are expected to be followed by a blast of freezing rain, ice, sleet and snow, which could freeze flooded roadways and make them treacherous.

The National Weather Service in Moon Twp. said Friday that accumulating snow on top of freezing rain was likely to result in "extremely dangerous if not impossible driving conditions" in parts of the region tonight.

The forecast has led several organizations to cancel activities scheduled for Friday night and Saturday morning.

 
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Falling Bricks from Executive Building Force Street Closures

January 08, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photos special to Tube City Almanac)


Parts of two Downtown streets remain closed today after a brick pillar fell from the Executive Building.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko hopes the incident, which occurred last week, is the catalyst that convinces its New York owner to either invest in the troubled office building --- now vacant --- or sell it.

The final tenants moved out of the five-story yellow brick building at the end of last year.

"I'm trying to find out if I can find anyone interested in investing in the building," Cherepko said. "We've not been happy about the situation at all."

The bricks that fell into the sidewalk along Ringgold Street appear to be decorative, not structural, Cherepko said. No one was injured and no other damage was reported.

 
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Sub-Zero Temperatures Keeping Emergency Docs 'Extremely Busy'

January 06, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Above: After two weeks of temperatures hovering in single digits, ice has formed all the way across the Youghiogheny River at McKeesport. A warming trend is expected this week. (Almanac photo)


As temperatures rise above freezing for the first time in two weeks, doctors, nurses and support staff at UPMC McKeesport hospital should receive a slight respite.

Between the bitter cold and the flu season "we've been extremely busy," says Dr. Rani Kumar, who chairs the hospital's emergency department. "We're bursting at the seams sometimes, but we're here to help."

According to the National Weather Service, average temperatures in the Mon-Yough area in December were about 4 degrees below normal. As of this weekend, the last time the temperature in the McKeesport region went above freezing was Dec. 25, when the high recorded at Allegheny County Airport was 33 degrees.

Temperatures dropped below zero for four of the first six days of 2018, according to the weather service in Moon Twp. The average temperature so far for January has been 7 degrees.

 
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PurePenn Declared Operational, As Pa. Officials Blast AG Sessions' Policy Change

January 05, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A medical marijuana production facility in McKeesport has been declared operational by the state Department of Health and has permission to begin growing its first plants within 60 days.

But in the meantime, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and state Sen. Jay Costa of Forest Hills are angry at U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his decision --- which was long rumored to be in the works --- to reverse the Obama Administration's guidance on prosecuting federal marijuana laws, including against medicinal users and growers.

April Hutcheson, communications director at the state Health Department, told Tube City Almanac that PurePenn LLC was inspected and deemed operational on Dec. 22.

The facility, located at the RIDC Industrial Center of McKeesport on the former U.S. Steel National Works site, is now cleared to begin growing cannabis plants from either seeds or "clones" --- essentially, cuttings from other plants --- within 60 days.

 
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Bitter Cold Prompts Shelter Announcements, School Closings

January 04, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

(National Weather Service graphic)


McKeesport Area, Clairton, East Allegheny and South Allegheny schools are closed on Friday as bitterly cold temperatures descend on the Mon-Yough region.

The districts, along with Serra Catholic High School and Mary of Nazareth Catholic School, announced closures on Thursday night, though staff in McKeesport Area will be required to report for a so-called "Act 80" in-service day.

According to the National Weather Service in Moon Twp., the Mon-Yough area will be spared the worst of the blizzard that is bearing down on the New York City area. McKeesport can expect "little or no snow accumulation" over the next few days.

But the winds, and the wind chill, are a different story. The weather service has predicted a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit in McKeesport at 6 a.m. Friday, with winds between 13 and 26 mph that will make the temperature feel like -18 degrees Fahrenheit.

 
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Resident, 86, Says City's People Are 'Wonderful'

January 04, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Hall Park resident George Mushalko told McKeesport City Council on Wednesday that he's tired of hearing the community be disparaged by the media. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)


McKeesport resident George Mushalko gave a passionate defense of his hometown on Wednesday night with the vigor and spirit of someone much younger than his own 86 years.

One of five people presented with citations on behalf of the McKeesport Message Committee, Mushalko took objection to only one thing --- Mayor Michael Cherepko's characterization of him as the "epitome" of a caring person.

"I don't think I'm the epitome of a caring person because I've met a lot of wonderful people in McKeesport," said Mushalko, who was honored for upholding the value of "Respect."

 
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Cold Weather Adds to Fire Calls, Concerns About Space Heaters

January 03, 2018 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

(Photo courtesy Your Best Digs, licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).)


Bitterly cold weather has led many people to use space heaters to supplement their regular furnace or boiler. But the American Red Cross and local fire officials are warning that those devices can be dangerous.

"We do see a lot of people overloading circuits using space heaters," McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik says. "It's a general cause of fires this time of year. We also see Christmas tree fires this time of year, too. It's a busy time of year for us."

Dan Tobin, regional spokesman for the American Red Cross in Pittsburgh, says the Western Pennsylvania Region of the agency last year assisted 4,000 people in 1,700 disasters over the past 12 months, and most of them were house fires.

Heating equipment fires are the second-leading cause of house fires, Tobin says, and are responsible for about 19 percent of deaths in residential fires.

 
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