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Superintendent Defends Treatment of Minority Students; Board Will Review Black Student Union Concept

March 12, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: News

McKeesport Area School Board members will meet with people who have pressed the district to create a Black Student Union.

The decision came after former city councilwoman Fawn Walker-Montgomery and others urged the district during the school board's Feb. 27 meeting to create the group as a safe space for students to talk about racial issues, including a lack of African-American representation on the faculty.

“This is something I feel like I've been advocating for since I was in ninth grade at McKeesport High School,” Walker-Montgomery said, adding that “every time we want something for the black community it has to be a struggle.”

“We don’t want that this time, so that's why we came to you all with this,” she said. “Let's work together.”

School Superintendent Mark P. Holtzman Jr. defended the district's record and asked for examples of how minority students are being mistreated.

 
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Residents Worried About Future Landslides on Haler Heights Street

March 07, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Almanac photo)


Repairs to McIntosh Drive in McKeesport's Haler Heights neighborhood are expected to begin within 30 days, city officials said.

At Wednesday's meeting, council by 7-0 vote awarded a $316,125 contract to Geobuild LLC of Punxsutawney, Jefferson County, to stablize and rebuild about 122 feet of the street, part of which is down to one lane following a landslide in the 900 block last year.

But residents are worried that other parts of the dead-end street, located just above old Route 48, are also beginning to collapse. On Wednesday, one homeowner criticized city council and Mayor Michael Cherepko, saying they didn't act fast enough.

Harriet Siegmund said the McKeesport post office has temporarily stopped mail delivery to her and her neighbors, and, she said, she was told that city fire trucks can no longer navigate the partially closed street.

 
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School District Will Partner With Pitt on Violence Prevention Research

March 06, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: News

McKeesport Area School District will partner with the University of Pittsburgh on a research project about how to prevent violence among pre-teens, teens and young adults.

At their Feb. 28 meeting, school directors approved the district's participation in "Expect Respect Middle School: Preventing Severe and Lethal Violence Among Youth with Prior Violence Exposure."

The violence prevention program is part of a study being conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, said Mark Holtzman Jr., district superintendent.

“The university is doing great work in studying violence in Allegheny County, looking at violence as a disease, violence prevention, dating violence and criminal activity,” Holtzman said.

 
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School Board OK's New Software System

March 06, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: News

McKeesport Area school directors and staff took time during the February school board meeting to remember the late Debra Bertoty.

Bertoty, 46, of White Oak was employed in the district for 23 years as a learning support teacher at George Washington, Cornell and Centennial Elementary Schools and, most recently, at Francis McClure Intermediate School, where she was a life-skills teacher for third, fourth and fifth graders. She died Feb. 16 following a brief illness.

“Students and staff are struggling with the unfortunate and untimely passing of Ms. Bertoty,” said Mark Holtzman Jr., district superintendent. “She was a very important member of the McKeesport school district family.”

In other business, the board accepted a bid of $142,920 from Skyward Inc. for student management software. The package will replace the district's existing GoEdustar and ProSoft record-keeping system.

 
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McKeesport Area Student Proposes Wellness Initiatives

February 21, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: News

A McKeesport Area High School student has urged the school board to investigate programs to combat gun violence, substance abuse and what he referred to as “emotional regression” issues negatively impacting students.

Nearly two dozen students were on hand at January's school board meeting as Alex Dalton pitched his ideas to the school directors.

Dalton told the board about programs like Me2We that focus on supporting students struggling with mental health and other stressful issues. He also discussed a proposed student solution center, where students could get help “from peer mediators and learn about coping mechanisms, to better deal with emotional distress in a safe environment.”

 
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Three MAHS Students Awarded Seton Hill Scholarships

February 21, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: News

Three McKeesport Area High School students have been awarded scholarships to Seton Hill University in Greensburg to pursue degrees in science, math or technology.

The awards to Terayah Parris, Myah Roka and Emily Filotei from the Girls of STEM program were announced at  the Jan. 23 school board meeting.

Each student will receive $20,000 per academic year, district officials said. Filotei was presented with a certificate of recognition from Holtzman. Parris and Roka did not attend the meeting.

 
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Speakers: Reuse of Daily News Building a Big Win for Mon Valley

February 13, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

WATCH: Video of Monday's event

The reopening of the former Daily News Building as the "Tube City Center for Business and Innovation" is a signal that McKeesport officials want to direct their focus to revitalizing the city's Downtown area.

"We have development coming in at all different corners of town --- in Christy Park, on East Fifth Avenue, and RIDC is going to be out with a big announcement within the next 30 days," McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said at Monday's ribbon cutting ceremony.  "Up and down the Walnut Street corridor, we have new businesses and construction."

One part of the city hasn't seen that level of activity: Downtown. "That's the part of town we're here about today," Cherepko said.

More than 300 residents and business owners packed the lobby of the former Daily News Building at the corner of Lysle Boulevard and Walnut Street for the ceremony, hosted by Cherepko and state Sen. Jim Brewster.

 
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Mayor: People's Building to Be Transferred Soon

February 13, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Tube City Almanac photo)


The People's Building --- a landmark 1906 office building in McKeesport's Downtown that has fallen into disrepair --- will be in the hands of the city's Redevelopment Authority in the near future.

At Monday's grand opening for the Tube City Center for Business and Innovation, Mayor Michael Cherepko confirmed rumors that the building, which has been up for sale for more than a year and is currently condemned, is about to be sold.

"Very soon that is going to be in the hands of the Redevelopment Authority and that will be in the hands of a developer as well," Cherepko said. "We have someone very interested."

The potential developer is rumored to be a McKeesport business owner who has successfully rehabilitated other properties in the city. Sources contacted by the Almanac declined to confirm or deny the speculation publicly.

 
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Lawmakers Hope Company, Environmentalists Can Find Common Ground in Aftermath of Clairton Fire

February 13, 2019 |

By Charlotte Hopkins | Posted in: News

Above: The crowd overflowed city council chambers at Clairton's municipal building on Feb. 7 during a hearing on air quality problems following a fire at U.S. Steel's Clairton Plant. (Charlotte Hopkins photo, special to Tube City Almanac)


Workers at U.S. Steel's Clairton Plant said they want to have an open discussion about the air quality around the facility --- but they also want to preserve thousands of jobs in the Mon Valley.

"Simply put, if U.S. Steel ends up idling batteries, our members will lose their jobs," said Don Furko, president of United Steelworkers Local Union 1557. "This will begin a chain of events that will have a devastating impact on them, their families and our communities across the Mon Valley."

Following a standing-room-only meeting last week at the Clairton Municipal Building, state lawmakers are hoping to bring the company, employees, residents and environmental advocates to the table to work together. State Sen. Jim Brewster said U.S. Steel has agreed to open quarterly meetings to lawmakers, health groups and concerned residents.

“The purpose of the meeting wasn't to find blame but to find a process to keep U.S. Steel open and producing coke, and also pay attention to our air quality," Brewster said. "I want closer discussions, and invite them to the meetings, not to argue or debate but create partnerships in communication.”

 
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Wagner Hears Concerns During Healthcare Meeting

February 07, 2019 |

By Charlotte Hopkins | Posted in: News

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner listens Monday to testimony during a meeting at Carnegie Library of McKeesport. (Charlotte Hopkins photo special to Tube City Almanac)


Customers are concerned about what will happen when a consent decree between UPMC Health System and Highmark, the area's largest Blue Cross Blue Shield provider, ends on July 1.

At the first of a series of community meetings organized by Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner, held Monday night at Carnegie Library of McKeesport, Highmark subscribers said they were angry about some of UPMC's practices.

Wagner is holding another meeting at 6:30 tonight (Feb. 7) in room B-434 of CCAC South Campus, 1750 Clairton Road, West Mifflin.

Some of the people who spoke Monday asked that their names be withheld. One woman said she has a brain tumor and has been treated by a UPMC doctor even though her insurance is with Highmark. That arrangement will end June 30, when UPMC is no longer required to accept certain Highmark patients.

 
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