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Housing Authority of the City of McKeesport
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State Officials Call for More Accountability from U.S. Steel, Health Dept.

January 16, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Roy Luck photo via Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY-2.0.)


Correction appended, Jan. 17:

Three elected state officials are demanding more accountability from U.S. Steel and the Allegheny County Health Department in the wake of the announcement that sulfur dioxide emissions from the Clairton Plant have exceeded safe levels six times since Dec. 24.

State Sens. Jim Brewster and Jay Costa and state Rep. Austin Davis are calling on the state House and Senate Democratic Policy Committees to hold a joint hearing in the Mon-Yough area, which has been under an "air quality alert" since Jan. 8.

Last week, local residents criticized the health department for waiting 16 days before issuing the alert, which warned children, the elderly and people with heart and lung conditions to avoid strenuous outdoor activities until further notice.

"The public needs to know sooner and get better information on how to react," Brewster, Costa and Davis said in a joint release Wednesday.

 
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Health Department Responds to Criticism Over Clairton Plant Warning

January 11, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Brett Ciccotelli photo via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0).


Mon-Yough residents reacted angrily after the Allegheny County Health Department warned people with heart and lung conditions to avoid strenuous outdoor activities due to equipment problems at U.S. Steel's Clairton Plant.

On social media, they questioned why the department waited 16 days before issuing the warning.

The health department's alert, issued Wednesday, cautioned Mon-Yough area residents --- especially children, the elderly and those suffering from conditions such as asthma, emphysema or bronchitis --- to avoid strenuous outdoor activities until further notice.

According to the health department, sulfur dioxide emissions at the Clairton Plant have gone above acceptable levels six times since a fire on Dec. 24 that knocked out two pieces of emissions equipment known as "gas dispatcher" stations.

 
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Emergency Training Comes to City Churches Through UPMC Program

January 10, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: News

Dale Mitchell, an EMT with UPMC, works with participants at a Stop the Bleed training seminar at Noah's Ark Community Center in McKeesport. (Photo by Richard Finch Jr., special to Tube City Almanac)


“Sometimes it’s hard to get people to step up and be interested in something until it hits home, thinking it’s never going to touch them,” said Rev. Earlene Coleman, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in McKeesport.

Even before last year’s synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, an increasing number of law enforcement, emergency medical personnel and school district employees had signed up for Stop the Bleed, a training initiative to prepare people to assist victims in life-threatening situations until emergency medical personnel arrive at the scene.

UPMC, in partnership with Copeland Regional Trauma Council, is leading the nation's largest "Stop the Bleed" initiative. Developed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, the program's goal is to train bystanders and first responders to stop bleeding using dressings, compression and tourniquets.

On Saturday, Bethlehem hosted a 90-minute "Stop the Bleed" class at Noah’s Ark Community Center in McKeesport.

 
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County: Clairton Plant Fire Leaves Potential for Unhealthy Air

January 09, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

U.S. Steel's Clairton Plant in a 2010 photo by Patrick Cain. (Via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0)


An accident three weeks ago that damaged two pieces of equipment at U.S. Steel's Clairton Plant has the potential to create unhealthy air conditions in the Mon Valley, Allegheny County officials said Wednesday.

The county Health Department is warning residents --- especially those with pre-existing heart or lung conditions --- to limit their outdoor activities until further notice.

The Clairton Plant produces coke, a fuel used in the steelmaking process, by baking coal at extremely high temperatures to remove impurities.

Jim Kelly, deputy director for environmental health at the Health Department, said a fire on Dec. 24 damaged two "gas dispatcher" stations, which help to remove pollutants.

 
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Railroad Operations Disturbing Sleep, 10th Ward Residents Say

January 04, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

A CSX train passes through Downtown McKeesport in 2016. Residents of lower 10th Ward say nighttime railroad operations are knocking things from walls and disturbing their sleep, but the railroad says nothing's changed. (D.A. Liscomb photo via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

The author of this story has a conflict of interest. See editor's note.


It sounds like "a pile of steel (being) dropped into an empty barge at two in the morning."

That's how Dwayne Yeager of lower 10th Ward described CSX Railroad's late-night and early-morning operations in his neighborhood.

Yeager, who is retired from factory work, has lived in his home since 1994, so he's used to the sound of trains passing through. He told McKeesport City Council on Wednesday that it's not the normal noise of train operations bothering him and his neighbors.

"That noise is nothing," Yeager said. "What they're doing is hooking and unhooking cars by camera, without a brakeman, at all hours of the day and night. They're shaking things off the walls and off of the windows."

 
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Police Chief Announces Retirement, Effective Feb. 1

January 02, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Crime and Police News, News

McKeesport's police chief will wrap up an almost 26-year career with the department on Feb. 1.

Bryan J. "B.J." Washowich, who has served as chief since 2010, has announced his retirement. His successor has not yet been named.

Washowich, 47, grew up in White Oak, where his father, the late Wayne Washowich, served as a police officer, planning and zoning director, and code enforcement officer.

 
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North Huntingdon Family Hosts a Bright Holiday Tradition

December 24, 2018 |

By Cami DiBattista | Posted in: News

Over 10,000 lights synchronized with Christmas music create a unique holiday display in Markvue Manor. Al and Cindy Harff have been decorating their home for 12 years and donating all funds collected to charity. (Cami DiBattista photo special to Tube City Almanac)


One North Huntingdon Twp. family aims to make the season a little brighter for those in need in a very festive way.

The Harff family, who reside at 1907 Bernice Dr. in the Markvue Manor development of North Huntingdon, deck out their home with thousands of lights and holiday décor each year in an effort to raise funds for Jamie’s Dream Team.

The McKeesport-based non-profit organization, founded by Jamie Holmes in 2005, supports those suffering from serious illness, injury, disability or trauma.

“Jamie is such a wonderful person and works so hard to make dreams come true for local children and adults,” said Cindy Harff. “We are happy to support her organization and just thrilled with the success of the light display.”

This is the 12th year the family has decorated their home for the holidays in this manner. Christmas Eve is the busiest night for visitors.

 
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City Taking Another Look at In-House Trash Collection

December 19, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

Above: Seasonal public works employees Myselo King, left, and Austin Fagan and load recycle bins for delivery to McKeesport residents in this 2017 photo. Mayor Michael Cherepko said this month many bins are still available for city households. (Submitted photo by Jennifer Vertullo, City of McKeesport.)


McKeesport City Council has extended its contract with its garbage collection service for one more year.

But Mayor Michael Cherepko says the city is again considering purchase of its own garbage trucks and bringing the service back in-house for the first time in more than 35 years.

Council this month by 7-0 vote exercised an option with Big's Sanitation of Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland County, to collect the city's trash until Dec. 31, 2019.

Rather than a rate increase, Cherepko said, Big's has lowered its prices to the 2015 level.

The mayor's office has received some complaints about trash collection over the past year, Cherepko said, but added that Joe Eori Jr., president of Big's, has been "responsive every time the complaints have come in."

 
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Water Authority Pledges $843K to Grandview Fire Hydrant Improvements

December 14, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Map courtesy Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County. Click to download.)


The water authority serving McKeesport will invest more than $843,000 to improve the water flow to fire hydrants in the Grandview area of the city.

The improvements --- including more than a half-mile of new water mains and eight new fire hydrants --- were approved Wednesday by the board of directors of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.

Matthew Junker, spokesman for the water authority, said the board is responding to concerns raised by McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko, fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik and residents after a fire June 16 on Cleveland Street leveled one home, severely damaged at least five others and sent several people to the hospital.

"I'm very pleased that they are going to finally make the necessary improvements up there, and make sure that water flow is never a problem again in the Grandview area," Cherepko said Thursday.

 
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No Tax Increase for City Residents in 2018

December 13, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

CORRECTION, Dec. 14, 2018: Police and fire staffing remain the same in 2019 as in 2018. Two firefighter job classifications have changed and are in a different line on the 2019 budget. This story incorrectly said two positions were being eliminated. We apologize for the error. -JT

Download McKeesport's 2019 budget (PDF reader required)


McKeesport officials will hold the line on taxes and fees again in 2019.

The city's $24.5 million budget, approved unanimously by council on Dec. 5, keeps taxes at 6.26 mills on buildings and 18.5 mills on land.

One mill represents $1 in taxes paid for every $1,000 for which a property is assessed. A house assessed at $48,000 by Allegheny County would pay approximately $300 in city property taxes.

"There are no increases in taxes and no salary increases, beyond those we are contracted for," McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko said last week. "There are no increases for the administration."

 
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