McKeesport Area News from Tube City Almanac
Letter to the Editor: 'You're Either In or Out, Sir'
Sun, 22 Jul 2018 16:10:00 -0400

(Above: A.M. Rosenthal began his career at The New York Times in 1943 and retired from the paper as a columnist in 1999. He discussed his career in a 1993 interview with C-SPAN.)

Reader Tim Martin writes regarding our July 10 story about city council's decision to hire the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh to evaluate the reuse of the Penn-McKee Hotel:

I really don't understand why Mr. Togyer is covering the Penn-McKee story, and the editor's notes on top and at the end of July 10's story don't take the curse off the circumstance. You're either in or out, sir.

Tim is absolutely right. Reporters should not be involved with the stories they're covering. Period.

The late A.M. Rosenthal (above), city editor, managing editor and executive editor of The New York Times, supposedly had a colorful rule for his reporters:

"If you want to cover the circus, you can't (make love to) the elephants."

The problem with being a reporter in a small town is that you almost can't help getting involved in your stories. It's a lot easier to not get involved in New York City (population 8.5 million) than in McKeesport (population 19,000).

For that matter, this website and its parent organization are already ankle-deep in conflicts of interest.

For instance, we host the McKeesport International Village website, because there wasn't a website, and we were asked if we'd host one. We don't take any money for it (and neither does our webhost provider) but it's a clear conflict of interest.

And our conflicts of interest are going to get deeper: The city would like our Internet radio station, WMCK.FM, to be a tenant in the Daily News Building. It's a great opportunity for our DJs and hosts to interact with the public. But now we'll be paying rent to the city --- which we're supposed to be covering fairly and honestly.

That concerns me, and it should concern you, too. Or at least you need to know about it.

In the case of the Penn-McKee, the editor's notes on our July 10 story pointed out that I helped to write the marketing materials that the city used to shop the Penn-McKee to potential developers, and I have been asked to sit on an unpaid, volunteer committee that will be trying to raise money to rehab the building, if the project proceeds.

I've been involved with efforts to do something with, or about, that building since at least 2009, when I was a member of the board of directors of the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center. And I haven't tried to hide my involvement.

I thought back then --- and I still think --- that figuring out whether the Penn-McKee is re-usable is worthwhile. If the study comes back and says the building can't be re-used and is unsalvagable and should be torn down, well, that's also useful information.

Getting back to our July 10 story. I cover McKeesport City Council because, frankly, we have a limited budget and a limited staff of freelancers. And while we pay our freelance writers, we don't pay me. (Some people say we get what we pay for, ha ha ha.)

I'm not trying to be a hero or play the victim here. I am trying to be practical and honest. Finding new, reliable writers for Tube City Almanac hasn't been easy. Part of the problem is that we can only afford freelance writers, and most of them have full time jobs elsewhere.

(We have been very fortunate to have some good people, including Cami DiBattista covering White Oak and Duquesne, Lynne Glover covering some political and medical stories, and Vickie Babyak taking photos. And I'm excited to have Richard Finch Jr. coming aboard to help us cover North Versailles Twp. and the McKeesport Area School Board.)

Anyway, when the agreement with the Young Preservationists Association came before city council on July 10, my options were:

1. Don't write about it --- which is dishonest, or

2. Admit that I've been asked to be involved, and that I'm therefore not impartial.

I chose "2," which is the "least bad" option --- but a bad option is still bad, by definition.

The third alternative, of course, would have been for me to refuse to help when I was asked.

That would have preserved the appearance of objectivity, but since I love this community --- which is why I started this website back in 1996 -- that seemed like a lousy idea, too. So when I was asked to help --- as a volunteer --- I agreed to help.

In the 1993 interview with C-SPAN linked to above, Rosenthal --- the author of the elephant quote --- was asked by interviewer Brian Lamb, why do New York Times readers depend on that paper instead of other news sources?

"We're people, we're not infallible," Rosenthal said. "But we think we will carry out a job of giving you as much news as we can without playing around with it. And we respect you. (Readers) trust us to give them as much as we can, and as straight as we can. (That) means fair. You cannot achieve total, pristine objectivity. There is no such thing. But what you can do is try to move toward it."

I am not comparing us to The New York Times. We are to The New York Times what a corner lemonade stand is to Wal-Mart.

But we do respect you, too, and we try to report as many of the facts in a story as we know without, in Rosenthal's words, "playing around with it."

And we promise to try to be transparent here. If we have a conflict of interest, we tell you, and if we make a mistake, we admit it and we say we're sorry.

And if the work on the Penn-McKee goes forward, I will try to have someone else writing about it.

Tube City Community Media is committed to printing viewpoints from residents of the McKeesport area and surrounding municipalities. Commentaries are accepted at the discretion of the editor and may be edited for content or length.

To submit a commentary for consideration, please write to P.O. Box 94, McKeesport 15134, or email tubecitytiger -at - gmail -dot- com. Include contact information and your real name. A pen name may be substituted with approval of the editor.

W.O. Council Seeks $2.3M for Lincoln Way Improvements
Sun, 22 Jul 2018 00:57:00 -0400

White Oak Borough will seek $2.3 million from the state Department of Community and Economic Development for improvements to Lincoln Way.

At July's meeting, council authorized borough officials to apply for the grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority's Multimodal Transportation Fund.

Officials said the borough is pursuing the money to improve the streetscape along Lincoln Way. The improvements would include new lighting and crosswalks as well as solar-powered trash compactors, Borough Engineer Shane Michael said.

In other business, council approved Councilman Ken Robb's request to send representatives from White Oak to an emergency management training course being held in October in Altoona. Emergency Coordinator Mark Jones and Deputy Paul Falavolito will attend the training seminar to learn about disaster education.

Council also approved routine refunds of taxes to property owners whose assessments have been lowered by Allegheny County, as well as to those property owners who overpaid their taxes.

Cami DiBattista is a freelance writer. She can be reached at

NV Twp. Commissioners Promise Action on Storm Sewers
Sun, 22 Jul 2018 00:09:00 -0400

Recent heavy rainstorms are causing concern for residents in the Larimer Street section of North Versailles Twp.

During the public comment portion of Thursday's meeting, resident Mary Henning told township commissioners that water "is shooting out of the sewer system" and that she wasn't satisfied with the results of an earlier discussion she had with the township engineer.

“That’s why I showed up today," she said.

Henning's brother, Donald Rush, said he's helping his sister clear land nearby for possible development. “I’ve been studying this for a year, standing out in the rain just to gather information,” Rush said. “Only when it rains extremely hard and for a long period of time does the basin across the street not handle the water.”

Commission Vice President Sam Juliano said he inspected the site on July 17 and that the issue was discussed at the municipal authority meeting. He said the basin will be inspected to see if it needs to be cleaned or if it's damaged.

“Due to the tremendous amount of water that is occurring (during storms) throughout the county it may be necessary to have a larger basin installed,” Juliano said.

Juliano said township engineer Dave Gilliland will study the problem and devise a solution.

Gilliland said the township municipal authority is working on a smartphone application that will show when storm basins have been inspected and cleaned. The mapping process is almost 50 percent complete, he said.

In other business:

Commissioner Russell Saula recognized police and firefighters for their response to a protest on July 8 that closed Route 30.

Protesters forced the closure of roads in both East Pittsburgh and North Versailles as they demanding justice for Antwon Rose II, who was fatally shot by East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld during a traffic stop last month.

“The police and fire departments did a very professional job considering the short notice,” Saula said. “I don’t believe we ever went through any march or protest in recent years. They all did a good job.”

Commissioner Tracy Yusko said a grant in the amount of $75,000 was awarded from the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County for renovations at Fairhaven Field. Yusko added they are looking into improvements to the park as well as the basketball court.

Commissioners voted to approve a motion for a $500 donation presented by Yusko on behalf of the Parks and Recreation Department for three painting events sponsored by the East Allegheny High School Art Club. The events will take place in July and August and are free of charge for township children.

Commissioners announced the August opening of a new business, Tractor Supply Company, on Route 48.

Richard Finch Jr. is a freelance writer and photographer from West Mifflin. This is his first byline for Tube City Almanac. He can be reached at

Car Cruise, Recycling Event Planned Saturday in W.O.
Wed, 18 Jul 2018 10:26:00 -0400

An electronic and household hazardous waste recycling collection drop off program will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday (July 21) at the White Oak Municipal Building, 2280 Lincoln Way.

Residents must register online or by calling 1-866-815-0016. It is a pay as you go program; information is available on the White Oak website and at the borough office.

Bridge City Church is hosting a car cruise from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at their 3001 Jacks Run Road location. The event is a benefit for the White Oak Police Department.

Other upcoming events include White Oak Borough’s community day Aug. 4 at the Heritage Hill Park and Pool Complex. The annual event begins at 11 a.m. and runs until dark.

A brain cancer awareness 5K is slated for Aug. 18 at Allegheny County's White Oak Park. More information and registration forms are available on White Oak's website.

A community-wide yard sale will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 25. Those who wish to participate are encouraged to call the borough building to register for the event.

White Oak Council Announces Approval of PennDOT Funding
Wed, 18 Jul 2018 10:08:00 -0400

Funding has been approved by the state Department of Transportation’s Green Light-Go program to White Oak in the amount of $601,808, council announced this week.

The program, which is designed to reimburse local municipalities for signal upgrades and intersection safety improvements, should allow for an upgrade to all six traffic lights in the borough, officials said.

In other business, Mayor Ina Jean Marton announced that the White Oak Police Department received a compliance monitoring visit from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency on July 3. The visit was to review how juveniles are being handled within the department.

The visit resulted in no violations or problems requiring formal resolutions, Marton said. The department appears to be in full compliance with core protections identified within federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 2002.

“We were commended for our hard work and dedication toward ensuring how juveniles are being handled in a manner that is consistent with federal requirements,” Marton said.  “I would like to thank Juvenile Officer Ken Wehrli and Chief Mark Sargent for their work to keep our department within compliance standards.”

Council approved a $200 donation to support the White Oak Rotary Scholarship Fund’s annual golf outing.

A motion was passed to authorize Borough Engineer Shane Michael to develop and advertise the design specifications for the Heritage Hill Pool ADA Accessibility Project Phase 1 at a cost not to exceed $5,000.

Additionally, a motion was passed by council to advertise for a public hearing for the demolition of the following structures in White Oak: 738 O’Neil Blvd.; 608 Osborne St.; 606 New Jersey St.; 700 New Jersey St., 2420 O’Neil Blvd., and 1828 California Ave. The hearing is expected to take place prior to council’s regular meeting in August.

Police activity for the month of June included a totally 637 incidents resulting in 16 arrests. Arrests included three assaults, nine drug arrests, one DUI, one for making false identification to law enforcement, one for theft and one for persons not to possess firearms. Seventy-four traffic violations were also reported.

Cami DiBattista is a freelance writer who covers municipal news from White Oak and Duquesne and other topics.

Begin the Beg-a-Loo: Sponsors Needed for I.V. Broadcast
Mon, 16 Jul 2018 14:05:00 -0400

With a month to go until International Village, we're getting ready for our annual video broadcast of events, live from Renziehausen Park.

(Or, as one of our fans charmingly called it last year, "the geeks from the A.V. squad with the equipment they stole from the high school." Jealousy is such an ugly emotion, don't you think?)


We would like to raise $750. Donations may be tax-deductible as allowed by law. All donors will be acknowledged on our website, in a sign on our booth at International Village, and during the broadcasts.

You can make a donation by mailing a check or money order to Tube City Community Media Inc., P.O. Box 94, McKeesport, PA 15134-0094, or just click this button:

Any extra not spent on the International Village broadcast will go directly toward keeping our websites --- Tube City Online, and WMCK.FM --- operational.


If your business or organization would like to advertise during our International Village webcast, we need your information no later than Aug. 7! (Advertising does not qualify as a charitable contribution.)

Contact me at or call me (412) 614-9659.

For $135, we will make a minimum of one 30-second announcement every hour during the broadcast for your group, business or organization, plus we will run an ad on Tube City Online for at least 30 days. We'll also promote your group, business or organization on Twitter and Facebook.

For $250, we will make a minimum of one 60-second announcement every hour to promote your group, business or organization, plus we will run an ad on Tube City Online for at least 60 days. We'll also promote your group, business or organization on Twitter and Facebook.

We are hoping to upgrade our video quality from "1970s local TV station" to "1990s local TV station" this year. Yes, we are still living in an analog world.

(We've priced going all-digital with a computerized switcher and HD cameras. You seriously don't want to know.)

Every year, we have to bring this thing in under a $1,000 budget. And that's despite spending $256.68 in the past 12 months to IBM Cloud Storage to house the video stream, $80 to T-Mobile for the wireless access during International Village, as well as a bunch of other expenses.

(For instance, we just purchased three new higher-powered video links at $200, which should clear up the annoying static and video drop-outs that happened occasionally last year.)

Any extra not spent on the International Village broadcast will go directly toward keeping our websites --- Tube City Online, and WMCK.FM --- operational.

If you're at all able to make a tax-deductible donation, we would very much appreciate it. Thank you in advance!

Four Honored in July for Upholding 'McKeesport Message'
Sun, 15 Jul 2018 23:32:00 -0400

Mary of Nazareth Catholic School student Aleena Halaszynski was honored by McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko for upholding the value of "Love." Aleena, who just finished first grade, raised $1,300 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko and city council on Tuesday honored four people for upholding the "McKeesport Message" of "Respect, Dignity, Hope and Love."

Proclamations were presented to three of the four awardees during council's July meeting. Each of the awardees was nominated by the public and selected the McKeesport Message Committee, a subgroup of the Mayor's Select Committee on Crime and Violence.

Honored for this quarter were Walt Yager for upholding the value of "Respect," Tricia Hoover for upholding the value of "Dignity," Hasaan Allen for upholding the value of "Hope," and Aleena Halaszynski for upholding the value of "Love."

Respect: Walt Yager

Through the McKeesport Allied Veterans Memorial Organization, Walter Yager is working with the City of McKeesport to bring The Wall That Heals to Renziehausen Park in August.

Walter has dedicated much of his life to what he calls, “Operation Sammy and Sean” – a program he uses to honor the late Samuel LaRosa of the local Boys & Girls Club and his own son Sean Yager, who completed a community service project on the club’s longstanding Vietnam Memorial as his senior project for Norwin High School in 2004 before his untimely passing.

For many years, Walter has been on the committee that organizes annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies at the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club to honor 11 members who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam – Norman Johnson, Michael Nemchick, James Brooks Jr., Tyrone Burse, James West, Gregory Popowitz, Curtis Gay, Thomas Sweeney, Louis Huff II, John Germek Jr., and Lee Thomas. Separately, McKeesport Area High School is home to a memorial recognizing 23 students, known as the “McKeesport 23,” who were killed in Vietnam. Ten names appear in both locations.

Walter said The Wall That Heals is important to the McKeesport community. He wants area residents to have an opportunity to pay their respects to all Vietnam veterans.

“It’s of national prominence,” he said. “In all of the years I have been working on ‘Operation Sammy and Sean,’ I wanted McKeesport to get recognized as one of the first Vietnam memorials … Now, we’ve hit a home run in bringing The Wall here to McKeesport.”

Veterans’ organizations from across the Mon Valley and Southwestern Pennsylvania are reaching out to Yager to volunteer their time and donate funds to bring The Wall That Heals to McKeesport. The exhibit will be on display around the clock Aug. 9 to 12 at Jimmy Long Field.

Anyone wishing to support Yager’s effort may send donations payable to the McKeesport Allied Veterans Memorial Organization, 500 Fifth Avenue, McKeesport, PA, 15132. Information is available online at

Dignity: Tricia Hoover

Tricia Hoover is doing her part to guarantee all students at Twin Rivers Elementary have access to creative programming, field trips, and other positive experiences.

As president of the Twin Rivers PTO, Tricia leads a small group of parents in organizing fundraisers – everything from candle or cookie sales to and book fairs – that that cover the cost of field days, pizza parties, assemblies, and special events.

“Not every family can afford to donate to the school, and we understand that,” she said. “We have them contribute in other ways, and we have creative ways to give prizes to the kids.”

This year, students attended skating parties at Eden Park Roller Rink, watched plays at the Gemini Theater, toured Triple B Farms, rode the Gateway Clipper, and visited the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

“Whether it’s watching a play or going to a game, kids start thinking about activities they want to join in high school or what jobs they might want to do as they get older,” Tricia said. “They all have different interests, and we try to expose them to as many good experiences as we can. They can try new things or share their interests with their friends.”

Regardless of whether children have the means to raise funds, Tricia said, they are given every opportunity to participate.

PTO funds also provide classroom resources to enhance students’ in-school experiences, with each year focusing on a different elective. Funding in 2017-18 paid for robots used in STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math) classes.

Parents have noticed Tricia’s effort and thanked her for putting her “heart and soul” into the PTO program. They’ve praised her for working tirelessly to ensure McKeesport Area students have all of the “extras” on top of their already well-rounded curriculum. Tricia is present during and after school on many days – completing her paperwork, organizing materials, and offering a helping hand to Twin Rivers staff. Teachers praised Tricia for her kindness and her love of the McKeesport Area School District and all of its students.

Hope: Hasaan Allen

Hasaan Allen, the creative force behind HADC Pittsburgh, is sharing his love of dance with children and teens in the community and club where he was raised.

Hasaan, a 2012 McKeesport Area High School graduate, has been a member of the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club since his early youth. He earned the club’s Youth of the Year award for his positivity, his participation, and his extra effort in providing dance lessons to fellow club members during his senior year of high school.

“It started off as just a dance group after school,” he recalled. “The club was just a space we were using. Once the kids and the staff noticed what we were doing, they asked for a program for the following year.”

From there, the Hasaan Allen Dance Company was formed. Focusing on hip-hop and street jazz with contemporary and modern styles, Hasaan is a talented dancer and choreographer. He has performed with companies in the Pittsburgh area and Chicago.

“All of the girls I taught during the year I graduated, they graduated this year,” he said. “We started with six girls, and we doubled that. It’s been such a cool ride to watch them evolve.”

Hasaan describes dance as an outlet that builds confidence – a phenomenon that “changes attitudes” and “matures.” Watching dancers gain a sense of discipline as they hone their skill has been rewarding for him.

A member of The Youth Department ministry, Hasaan has a good rapport in the McKeesport community, and he is respected by children and parents, alike. One of the most fulfilling aspects of his work has been knowing that parents are genuinely excited for their children’s progress.

“I want to be for these kids what so many people have been for me,” Hasaan said. “So many people in my life have helped me become who I am today. I don’t look at this as being a huge thing until I see how the kids react. You can see the impact it has on them.”

Love: Aleena Halaszynski

Aleena Halaszynski is proof that a person is never too young to embrace McKeesport’s message. With a bit of inspiration from her family, community, and school, Aleena was looking for ways to raise funds for children less fortunate than herself. She saw YouTube videos and commercials involving lemonade stands and wanted to try it in her own neighborhood, with proceeds benefitting St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

“I wanted to help kids and sick people,” Aleena said. “I wanted the money to go to people who need it.”

Her parents, Jennifer and Chris Halaszynski, contacted St. Jude and obtained permission to advertise their daughter’s fundraiser as a charity event. The family received a formal letter outlining St. Jude’s commitment to patients and examples of what one day of treatment would cost for various patient conditions.

The Halaszynski family expected to raise anywhere from $50 to $200, thinking it would be a nice contribution, but with support from neighbors, city officials, and Turner’s Dairy, they brought in close to $1,300.

On May 26, Aleena set up shop at the corner of Arnold and Wainwright drives in McKeesport’s Haler Heights neighborhood. “People walked up to us and they pulled up in cars,” Aleena said. “It make me feel joyed and happy.”

Aleena’s heart was warmed by the support her project received. For two hours, she was busy serving local residents, first-responders, and more. She talked with strangers as well as friends, including classmates.

Aleena recently finished first grade at Mary of Nazareth Catholic School in White Oak, where she is learning the value of ethics along with other subjects.

“In religion class, they teach me how to be kind and nice,” she said. “We draw pictures of people helping others. We want to help the earth get better.”

Aleena is looking for new ways to support her community, and she hopes to host a second lemonade stand this summer to raise funds for local charities.

Living the Message

McKeesporters of all ages – from youth volunteers to senior citizens – display characteristics of Respect, Dignity, Hope and Love on a daily basis in our community. Whether through organizing community activities or offering a helping hand to those in need, everyday people are doing their part to make our city a better place. If we look within our schools, our neighborhoods, our churches and our service organizations, we will find acts of kindness for which we all can be proud.
Living the Message awards are intended to showcase these individuals and give the community an opportunity to share its good news. Awards are given quarterly. Using 250 words or fewer, describe how the individual of your choice embodies one of the four words.
For more information, contact the mayor’s office at 412-675-5020, ext. 605. Nominations can be mailed to the mayor’s assistant Jennifer Vertullo, 500 Fifth Avenue, McKeesport, PA 15132, or emailed to The deadline for the next round of nominations is Aug. 17, 2018.

School Taxes Increasing for McKeesport Area Property Owners
Fri, 13 Jul 2018 14:35:00 -0400

Related Story: School taxes may be paid at discount through Sept. 14

Many property owners in the McKeesport Area School District will be unhappy when their tax bills begin arriving next week.

School property taxes for the 2018-19 school year are increasing 2.11 mills this year, to 19.48 mills. The increase represents an addition $2.11 in taxes on each $1,000 of value of a property.

The increase, and the district's $67 million budget, were approved by an 8-1 vote at the district's June 27 meeting, with school director David Donato dissenting.

According to the real estate tracking website Zillow, the median home value in McKeesport is $55,300, while the median home value in White Oak is about twice as high, at $104,500. The taxes on a home valued at $55,300 will increase $116.68, while the taxes on a home valued at $104,500 will increase $220.50.

According to the Allegheny County Treasurer's Office, 26 of the county's 43 school districts had tax rates above 20 mills last year, including East Allegheny, Elizabeth Forward, West Mifflin Area and West Jefferson Hills.

The highest millage --- 32.63 mills --- was levied in Wilkinsburg.

McKeesport Area administrators and school board members have said that the district's budget is under increased pressure from the need to pay $7 million to area charter schools, as well as the increased demand for mental-health services, special education and non-instructional items.

"We’re trying to balance a budget that has really seen its better days, and we’re doing our best to do that as responsibly as we possibly can," Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. said at the April school board meeting.

Eleven teaching positions are being eliminated for the 2018-19 school year, including an art teacher at Founders Hall Middle School; a math, Spanish and English teacher at the high school; two first-grade teachers, a third-grade teacher and a kindergarten teacher; and two traveling librarians who served the high school, Founders Hall and Twin Rivers and Francis McClure elementary schools.

Most of the teachers whose positions were eliminated are shifting to other jobs left vacant by retirements or resignations, district officials have said.

"It’s not fun, it’s very challenging and it’s not a situation that anybody at this table enjoys, but it’s one of those situations that unfortunately we have no control over," Holtzman said in April.

172 Houses Head to Demolition; At Least 50 More to Be Added
Fri, 13 Jul 2018 12:05:00 -0400

McKeesport City Council this week added another 172 vacant buildings to its demolition list. The houses will be torn down using a mix of local and federal funds. Click the map to explore the locations.

From approximately "coast to coast" --- including both Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Avenue --- 172 additional vacant houses and commercial buildings have been approved for demolition by McKeesport City Council.

At least 50 more are expected to be scheduled for demolition in the next round, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko promised city council this week. Virtually every neighborhood in the city will be touched this year, he said.

"Nothing's perfect, but overall, I think we did a good job when you talk about preserving the neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city, as well as those on the main thoroughfares," Cherepko said.

Public hearings were held on each of the properties during a three-day period in early June. City officials said that in most cases, no one attended to dispute the inclusion of a particular property on the demolition list.

A check of Allegheny County tax records indicates that practically all of the properties are severely tax delinquent, and in some cases, the last listed owner is deceased.

Many of the properties are listed as "unsound" or "poor" on county tax records and most are wood-frame houses built before World War II.

The demolition work is not cheap. According to published reports and contracting websites, demolishing a single-family house costs between $8,000 and $15,000, depending on the degree of difficulty, the size of the structure, and the presence of lead paint, asbestos or other environmental hazards.

Funding for the demolition will be provided in part by federal Community Development Block Grant funds, as well as by a portion of the proceeds from last year's sale of the city's sewerage authority to Pennsylvania-American Water Co. The demolition program is part of what Cherepko and his administration are calling the "McKeesport Rising" project.

Demolition work will be done by a combination of city public works crews and private contractors. City council this week by 7-0 vote awarded a $742,000 contract to Jadell Minniefield Construction Services of Pittsburgh's Hazelwood neighborhood to demolish 92 vacant structures.

Minniefield was the only bidder, city officials said, but the company has previously done satisfactory work in McKeesport.

Cherepko said the contract was bid using the Enviro 21 reverse-bidding process, and that Minniefield's bid came in "at least six figures lower" than officials expected.

The contract to demolish another 100 houses will likely be voted on at September's council meeting, he said.

Residents who have a vacant house in the neighborhood should call the mayor's office at (412) 675-5020, ext. 605, and ask to have it placed on the list for future consideration. "Every complaint that comes into my office is logged," Cherepko said. "In this case, the squeaky wheel does get the grease."

School District Reminds Residents of 2 Percent Discount on Tax Bills
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 17:10:00 -0400

Related Story: School taxes increasing for McKeesport Area property owners

School tax bills for McKeesport area residents may be paid at discount until Sept. 14, a spokeswoman said.

Tax bills are being mailed out today for property owners in the McKeesport Area School District, which includes the city, Dravosburg, South Versailles Twp. (Coulter), Versailles and White Oak, said Kristen Davis, spokeswoman.

A 2 percent discount applies to all taxes paid in full by Sept. 14. Anyone who has not received a tax bill or has paid their mortgage off this year should contact their local tax collector, Davis said.

School property taxes are increasing 2.11 mills this year, to 19.48 mills. The increase represents an addition $2.11 in taxes on each $1,000 of value of a property.

Properties that qualify for "homestead" exemptions and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may pay property taxes in quarterly installments at face value, with payments due Sept. 15, Dec. 15, March 15 and June 15. Payments made in installments are not eligible for the 2 percent discount.

Properties that qualify for the homestead exclusion through Allegheny County will get a $355.65 discount on their school property tax, Davis, the district spokeswoman said.

Payments may be sent by U.S. mail directly as a check or money order to McKeesport Area School District, 3590 O'Neil Blvd., Attention: Tax Office, McKeesport, PA 15132. If a receipt is requested, taxpayers should include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Payments for properties located within the city may be made at the McKeesport City Treasurer's Office, 500 Fifth Ave., through Dec. 31.

State law requires all current property taxes, except for installment accounts, to be paid before Dec. 31. For more information, Davis said, call the tax office at (412) 664-3609.

County Police Make Arrest in N. Versailles Twp. Homicide
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 16:24:00 -0400

A South Hills man has been charged in connection with the death of a man whose body was found July 8 in North Versailles Twp.

Darrel E. Hardy Jr., 29, was charged Thursday by Allegheny County police with criminal homicide, carrying a firearm without a license and tampering with evidence.

Hardy was already in jail after police accused him of setting a car fire the same day that investigators believe the victim, Zack Moore, 28, was shot.

Through the course of the investigation, county police said, they determined that the vehicle Hardy is accused of burning was the same vehicle in which detectives allege that Hardy shot Moore.

Moore's body was found just after 5:30 a.m. July 8 along East Pittsburgh-McKeesport Boulevard in Dixon Hollow. He had been shot in the head, the medical examiner's office said.

Police have not disclosed the motive for Moore's murder.

Moore was previously charged with arson, causing or risking a catastrophe and felony criminal mischief. He is being held in the Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $200,000 cash bond on those charges.

A preliminary hearing has not yet been scheduled.