In what's become an annual tradition at Tube City Online, we present the story of the blood-sucking monkeys who were raised in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania ... which is really scary territory, kids!
Then the monkeys got too big for West Mifflin, so they hopped on a freight train and went to Sewickley! And then ... well, Count Floyd will tell you the rest.
Just a little blast from the past courtesy of Pittsburgh's own Joe Flaherty and SCTV. Remember, this film won the Western Pennsylvania Fright Award in 1978.
If you want to feel old, I'll remind you that this clip is from 28 years ago. And that is really scary.
(You can get the DVDs from Amazon.com: SCTV, Volume 2)
The city's recreation department will hold its annual Halloween parade for children 10 and under this Saturday in Renziehausen Park, a spokeswoman announced.
Parents or guardians should arrive at the park office (near Jacob Woll Pavilion) at 3 p.m. The parade will begin at 3:30. For additional information, contact Annette James at (412) 675-5020, extension 605.
Official trick-or-treat times city-wide are from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Meanwhile, public safety officials have issued their annual warnings to motorists and parents about trick-or-treat safety.
A spokesman for the state Department of Transportation this week urged parents to add strips of reflective tape to darker-colored costumes and trick-or-treat bags; encourage their children to carry a flashlight or "glowstick"; remind children to stay on sidewalks, if possible; and also remind them to look both ways before crossing streets.
. . .
Editor's Note: Some Towns Trick-or-Treat Saturday: Well, I'm glad I checked on this ... some Mon-Yough communities have moved trick-or-treat to Saturday, apparently to avoid conflicts with Sunday night's Steelers game. Because, you know, God forbid that childhood activities should disrupt the Steelers' pre-game show.
Communities holding trick or treat on Saturday include Duquesne (5:30 to 7:30), Forward Township (5 to 8), Homestead (6 to 7:30), Lincoln (6 to 8), Pitcairn (5 to 7), West Mifflin (6 to 7:30) and Whitaker (6 to 7:30). There may be others.
Notice that there's almost no coordination at all. (I mean, 5 to 8, Forward Township? Seriously?) Honestly, we could screw up a one-car funeral in the Mon Valley. --- Jason Togyer, Editor, Tube City Almanac
. . .
Penn State Sets Career Event: Penn State students and alumni are invited to a career-building and networking event at the university's McKeesport campus.
"Ask the Experts: Internship and Job Search Advice" will be held at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 10 in the Ostermayer Room of the Student Community Center.
The event will include small group discussions on career topics related to helping students and alumni be more effective in internship and job searches. Professional recruiters from a variety of industry areas and organizations will share expertise and tips.
Resume and interviewing advice also will be available. Students and alumni should RSVP to the Career Services Office at Penn State Greater Allegheny by emailing email@example.com.
. . .
Fundraiser Nets $110K for McKeesport Campus: The scholarship fund for local Penn State students is $110,000 richer following the seventh-annual "All That's Jazz" event at the Greater Allegheny Campus in McKeesport.
More than 200 alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students gathered Oct. 16 for the event in the Student Community Center near Renzie Park, said Linda Curinga, campus spokeswoman.
"We more than doubled what we raised last year," Chancellor Curtiss Porter said in a prepared statement. "Everyone who contributed to this event should be extremely proud. We will have the funds available to help students pursue their educational goals here at Penn State Greater Allegheny."
In addition, a "reverse auction" raised more than $14,000 for student books and computers.
This year's event celebrated Pittsburgh's jazz legacy with performances by Ben E. Benack Jr. and Ben E. Benack III; Roger Humphries; Max Leake; Dave Pellow; Eric Johnson; and vocalist Fred Pugh.
Former KDKA-TV personality Bill Flanagan served as master of ceremonies. The event was organized by Mark Gruskin, president of the Penn State Greater Allegheny Advisory Board; Amy Michaliszyn and Jan Pokrifka, auction co-chairs; Nancy Seifert and David Pellow, entertainment co-chairs; and Nancy Traina, Capital Campaign Committee Chair.
Since its inception in 2004, All That's Jazz has raised more than $374,000.
. . .
McKees Cafe Sets Winter Hours: The restaurant in the Palisades Ballroom has gone to a limited operating schedule for the winter, a spokeswoman said.
McKees Cafe is currently open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Beginning Nov. 25, the restaurant will close on Saturdays as well.
The reduced schedule is necessary because of a lack of visitors to the McKee's Point Marina and the biking-hiking trail. Normal operations will resume in the spring.
. . .
Westinghouse Bridge Restricted Monday: Just when you thought it was safe to use the George Westinghouse Bridge, PennDOT has announced periodic restrictions beginning Monday and continuing through Nov. 9.
The restrictions will happen outside of morning and afternoon rush hours, and are necessary so that safety inspections can be completed. Only one of four lanes will be restricted at a time, said Jim Struzzi, PennDOT district spokesman.
A $5 million, two-year project to rehabilitate the bridge was largely completed earlier this month. The span, which carries Route 30 over Turtle Creek, Braddock Avenue and RIDC's Keystone Commons, handles about 24,000 cars and trucks daily.
The inspection work will be done by SAI Consulting Engineers Inc., Struzzi said.
. . .
Tennis Courts Closing Oct. 31: Tennis courts at all county parks will close for the season on Sunday, a spokesman said. They reopen April 1.
McKeesport's growing river-rescue team is poised to become a regional resource, Fire Chief Kevin Lust said.
Seven firefighters and four police officers are now trained in advanced water rescue techniques and handling underwater breathing apparatus, and will soon train in ice rescue, he said.
A new river rescue boat probably won't be delivered before December because the factory is "running behind" schedule, the chief said.
. . .
Allegheny County officials and Pennsylvania's "Region 13" homeland security task force have both been supportive of McKeesport's dive team, Lust said, with Region 13 arranging for some $70,000 in equipment to be used by the city.
With the equipment and the support comes an obligation to help neighboring municipalities when they need river rescue or dive team services, he said.
"We will be expected to assist other departments, not just McKeesport," said Lust, but added the city should view it as an "honor" extended by Region 13 and by Bob Full, Allegheny County chief of emergency services.
. . .
Lust also released the fire department's statistics for July, August and September.
City firefighters answered 292 calls during the three-month period, including 52 structure fires, 75 car accidents, 50 reports of "hazardous conditions," 26 calls for service, and 17 calls classified as "good intent" but unfounded.
Through Oct. 6, firefighters answered 886 incidents total for 2010, Lust said.
. . .
Police Stats Issued: McKeesport police made 221 arrests in August and 178 in September, Police Chief Bryan Washowich said.
Officers also issued 141 traffic citations in August and another 244 in September. Many of those citations were issued as part of the city's participation in state and federal campaigns to crack down on aggressive driving, he said.
Police tagged 70 abandoned vehicles in August and 64 in September, towing 31, Washowich said.
City police also participated in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, an initiative sponsored by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to safely dispose of unwanted, expired or unnecessary prescription drugs. The event was "very successful," the chief said.
(Rants a.k.a. Commentary)
A word, if you don't mind, about supposed voter apathy.
I vote every single time they'll let me, for judges, school board and borough council, and in primaries and general elections.
I'm not looking for a pat on the back, it's just the way I was taught. My mom's parents voted in every election, I think because they didn't take it for granted.
When grandma was born, women weren't allowed to vote. And in tiny coal-mining towns like the one where pap grew up, the company bosses used to try and threaten the miners into voting for the "right candidate."
Ever try to threaten a guy who spends daily spends 12 hours underground with a shovel? You just make him mad. "F--- you, I'll vote for whoever I want to," he says.
And yet we're told that one party currently has an "enthusiasm" gap, while overall turnout in next month's election is unlikely to top 40 percent. What changed since grandma and pap's day?
. . .
Well, grandma and pap didn't grow up with cable TV news, where idiots spend 24 hours a day talking about trivial crap --- "Oooh, Jerry Brown's in trouble after he was caught on tape calling his opponent a 'whore'" or "We've got video of Christine O'Donnell admitting to witchcraft!"
Plenty of time they have to cover nonsense, but they hardly ever tell you where the candidates stand on the issues --- in my opinion, there's lots of stuff about Christine O'Donnell that's way scarier than witchcraft.
So, instead of getting factual information from our news media (which is, you know, supposedly its job), we get bombarded with TV commercials that say things like, "Joe Sestak wants new job-robbing taxes that will cripple our economy!"
. . .
C'mon, whether you like Joe Sestak or not, do you really think he wants to "cripple the economy"? That's just plain stupid.
But as a result of this non-stop circus of electronic political noise --- clowns to the left, jokers to the right --- many people say, "Well, I don't like politics because all of the candidates seem like crooks, and I don't know anything about the issues.
You need to look harder for information, but it's out there. The League of Women Voters produces excellent unbiased voters' guides, and the Allegheny, Westmoreland and state bar associations provide nonpartisan endorsements for candidates in judicial races.
. . .
I know lots of us have a sense the game is rigged. The problem is the Glenn Beck crowd has been told it's liberals/unions/feminists/teachers/minorities/foreigners/gays who've rigged it ... in other words, people who don't really hold any significant power.
They don't seem to realize it's the corporations with the big bucks (Google "Koch brothers" and read about those two slimeballs, if you can stand it) who have the money, and thus the power, and do whatever the hell they want, and who are trying to rig the game.
For that, I again blame the media.
. . .
As a result of tax policies designed to benefit the super-rich, wealth is concentrated in the hands of the top 1 percent of Americans at a rate not seen since the 1900s.
Do you hear about that in the so-called "liberal" media? Probably not, but they recap "Dancing With the Stars" and cover every one of Sarah Palin's tweets as if they're news.
I keep thinking of a line from The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy about "a bunch of mindless jerks who will be the first ones against the wall when the revolution comes." That describes cable TV news anchors in my mind.
. . .
"But," I hear you say, "my vote doesn't matter." Ask Al Gore about that. He lost Florida --- and the presidency --- by 537 votes. That's eight votes in each of Florida's 67 counties that could have decided a national election.
For that matter, ask McKeesport Mayor Jim Brewster. He lost the 1999 mayoral primary by seven votes city-wide.
Seven people could have selected the mayor. Eight people in each of those counties could have picked the President of the United States.
And hey: The voting booth is the one place where the wealthy fat-cats can't touch you. They couldn't in grandpap's day, and they can't now.
. . .
The only bright spot I see is that younger Americans pay almost no attention to conventional talk radio, TV and newspapers. Audiences for those three sources are getting progressively older. Younger Americans are getting their information from political blogs, The Daily Show and other alternative outlets, and many of them are very well informed.
But because their parents and grandparents don't vote, many of them haven't caught the voting habit. And some of them voted in 2008, but because Barack Obama didn't give them a magic pony and a new bicycle, they're pouting.
They need a not-so-gentle kick-in-the-ass this year to go vote.
Well, the line forms to the right, everyone, and I've got my ass-kickin' brogans on: Go the f--- out and vote, you whiners.
A few months ago, I learned that I'm part of the Mayor Jim Brewster Machine, or the "JB Machine" as it's called on other websites. This came as a surprise to Brewster when I told him.
I asked him what sort of benefits accrue to members of the "JB Machine." He said I can park Downtown for up to a half-hour for only 25 cents, and I can use Renzie Park whenever I want (between sunrise and sundown).
Also, I just got my sewerage bill, and it shows a $23.51 credit. This may be because I stupidly overpaid last month's bill, but I prefer to think it's because of my status as a member of the Machine.
Unfortunately, because I'm part of the "JB Machine," when internal city financial reports are leaked, I don't get a copy. Those are only "made public" to people who aren't part of the "JB Machine," I guess.
. . .
I've also recently become part of the "Mayor Luke Ravenstahl Machine." I learned this after I wrote a commentary about Rich Lord's "The Network" series in the Post-Gazette.
I foolishly thought that the stories were about the complicated relationship between private consultants and local governments in the Mon Valley. But I have since been told privately they were actually an attack on Ravenstahl.
Because I professed not to know this, I was told I must be an apologist for the "Ravenstahl Machine" and was gently chided for peddling "the conventional wisdom."
. . .
There are only two cities in Allegheny County whose mayors haven't yet made me part of their political machines --- Clairton and Duquesne.
The balls are in your respective courts, Richard Lattanzi and Phil Krivacek. Let me know if I can peddle some conventional wisdom for either of you gentlemen. I'm also good at apologias.
. . .
One group that isn't part of any "Machine" is comprised of people who post comments on the Topix.com forums. I see from Saturday's Daily News (which is sometimes part of the "JB Machine" and sometimes isn't) that a West Mifflin police sergeant is suing the website to obtain the names of people who made "inflammatory comments" about him and his wife.
Setting aside the obvious First Amendment implications, I noticed that the Daily News refers to those commenters as "bloggers" four times, counting the headline.
Sweet sainted ghost of Eleanor Kratzer! Do we need to have remedial Internet classes?
OK, fine: A "blog" is defined as "a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer."
. . .
Not everything that's on the Internet is a "blog" any more than everything in a newspaper is a "news article." People who comment on an Internet forum are no more "bloggers" than people who write letters to the editor are "reporters."
This isn't the first time the Daily News has made this mistake --- while reporting on a similar case involving a Forward Township supervisor, it kept calling the defendants "bloggers." They're not either --- they're anonymous commenters on the elizabethboro.com website.
. . .
To be fair, the Daily News isn't the only newspaper that makes this mistake, but it is the one I read most frequently (besides Grit and The Hobo News).
Anyway, if the Daily News is going to persist in calling these people "bloggers," then I will begin calling the Daily News a comic book, since they both contain cartoons, right?
Thus endeth this Sunday's lesson. Please contribute generously to the political machine of your choosing.
. . .
Note: For next Sunday's sermon, entitled "I Got Mine, Suckers," I will take for my text St. Newt's First Letter to the Palinites. Brother Pat Toomey will then lead us in singing, "What a Friend We Have in Von Mises."
The man who arguably was McKeesport's most powerful and wealthiest man 100 years ago is all but forgotten today.
A program Sunday at McKeesport Heritage Center will try to rectify that omission.
The center's 2010 Founder's Day Address will examine the life of Edwin R. Crawford, founder of McKeesport Tin Plate Co. and wealthy benefactor of many local charities, including UPMC McKeesport hospital.
The speaker is Miles Richards. Admission is free at the program begins at 2 p.m. at the Heritage Center, 1832 Arboretum Drive, Renziehausen Park.
McKeesport helped break the European monopoly on tin-plated sheets of steel --- used in cans, pots and pans, packages, and roofing material --- beginning in 1875, when America's first successful tinplate mill opened in Demmler, below present-day Highland Grove. (See "The 'Tinplate Liar' of McKeesport" in Tube City Online's Steel Heritage section.)
Crawford was an employee of the Demmler mill who in 1903 struck out on his own, founding McKeesport Tin Plate in Port Vue, at the present site of ELG Metals. Soon the factory employed more than 3,000 people, and was the largest and most successful independent steel company in the world, second only to the much-larger U.S. Steel Corp. in production of tinplate.
Beginning in 1927, McKeesport Tin Plate was traded on the New York Stock Exchange, and it paid reliable dividends of more than $4 per share, even during the Depression.
But failure to modernize spelled the eventual end of McKeesport Tin Plate. At the Port Vue operation, workers packed small sheets of tinplate into wooden boxes for shipment. Newer mills --- including U.S. Steel's Irvin Works, which opened in 1938 --- could run off continuous coils of tinplate much cheaper and more efficiently.
That same year, McKeesport Tin Plate began losing money. Two years later, it sold the Port Vue factory to Jones & Laughlin Steel Co., and in 1941 it changed its name to National Can Co.
Crawford didn't live to see the fall of McKeesport Tin Plate. At his death in 1936 at the age of 66, he was worth an estimated $3.8 million --- about $60 million by today's standards.
About half of his estate was left to establish a charity in his name; the McKeesport-based E.R. Crawford Trust remains in operation more than 70 years later.
Sunday's address also will kick off the Heritage Center's 30th anniversary year, a spokeswoman said. For more information, call (412) 678-1832 or visit the website.
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MSP Sets Oct. 31 Concert, Dinner: McKeesport Symphony Pops is taking reservations for a pasta dinner that will follow the debut concert of its 2010-11 season.
The first concert of the year --- entitled "Tricks and Treats: A Swingin' Party" --- is slated for 2:30 p.m. Oct. 31 at the auditorium of McKeesport Area High School, 1960 Eden Park Blvd.
Under the baton of maestro Bruce Lauffer, the concert will feature trumpeter and bandleader Stephen Hawk, professor of music at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, and a program of big band music made famous by Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Henry Mancini and other greats.
Following the concert, McKeesport High School's Culinary Department will cater a pasta dinner including dessert and coffee. Reservations for the dinner must be made in advance by Oct. 21 and cost $10 per person. Call the symphony office at (412) 664-2854 or email the symphony at mail at mckeesport symphony dot org.
Tickets for the concert will be sold at the door and are $18 for adults, $15 for senior citizens and $10 for students, with children six and under admitted for free. All seating is first-come, first-serve.
Visit the symphony website for more information.
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Trail Newsletter Online: McKeesport Trail Commission's Fall 2010 newsletter is now available.
This issue includes stories about two long-distance charity rides that paused in the city this summer --- one by a father-son cycling team to raise money for juvenile diabetes research, and another by a group of seven college students riding coast-to-coast to raise money for AIDS research.
The trail commission will hold its final meeting of the year at 6 p.m. Oct. 26 at McKees Cafe, located on the first floor of the Palisades Ballroom, Fifth Avenue at Water Street, Downtown.
The Marcellus Shale Coalition, representing ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and EOG (formally Enron Oil and Gas), among others, favors a plan that would tax, at most, one-third of total well production at the full tax rate. The coalition's plan would assess a much lower rate on the first five years of production and eliminate it altogether in later years.
Setting a rate in Pennsylvania comparable to that of West Virginia is well within the range of comparable producing states and could eliminate tax competition between the two states. The rate hasn't hurt West Virginia's production; in fact, as of 2009, more Marcellus Shale wells had been drilled in West Virginia than in Pennsylvania.
(Guest commentary, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 19)
Municipalities in which drilling occurs also will need help repairing roads damaged by heavy truck traffic and providing additional services to meet swelling populations. Many lawmakers recognize the burden and are willing to divert a portion of an extraction tax to municipalities. Yet, Corbett, citing his no-tax-increase pledge, is among those politicians arguing a new levy will send drillers elsewhere.
That argument doesn't hold water. Drillers already have invested heavily to reap the Marcellus Shale payoff. According to geology.com, the extractions from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia have a wellhead value approaching $1 trillion.
(Editorial, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, Oct. 2)
What, no tax? There are no other states we know that allow such a free ticket. Even Texas and Oklahoma have gas taxes.
Common Cause PA and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania have launched a web site, www.marcellusmoney.org, listing reported donations to various officials, including the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates. It shows ... Pennsylvania GOP Gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett has received $372,720. Pennsylvania Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato has received $74,300.
The contributions go back some years, we would note. We'll let you decide why Corbett has received so much more than Onorato. Perhaps it's because Corbett does not support any severance tax on natural gas.
("In Harrisburg" column, Lock Haven Express, Sept. 21)
A coalition of local boroughs, townships and the City of McKeesport may attempt to negotiate more lucrative cable TV franchise fees for taxpayers.
McKeesport, Liberty Borough and Forward Township have agreed to partner with Twin Rivers Council of Governments in negotiating a joint contract with Comcast, and more communities are expected to join, says John Palyo, COG executive director.
"It's still in its very infancy," he says. "We're talking about potentially joining together to negotiate one agreement instead of five, six, seven agreements.
"It'll save legal costs and definitely increase the amount of the gross (cable franchise) revenues for the communities," Palyo says.
. . .
The COG is working with O'Hara Township-based Cohen Law Group --- founded by former Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Cohen --- to revise cable TV agreements that in some cases are out of date, according to Palyo.
Municipalities grant exclusive franchises to cable companies in exchange for a percentage of their gross revenues --- by federal law, up to five percent.
But those agreements haven't necessarily kept pace with the explosion of new cable services, Palyo says.
McKeesport's cable agreement with Comcast, for instance, counts 11 different types of cable TV services towards the franchise fee paid the city, he says. Newer agreements, however, take a percentage of gross revenues from more than 20 different services.
. . .
"Just in the last 10 years, technology has come a long way," Palyo says. "There can be revenues from pay-per-view, sales from home shopping services, on-demand services."
The Cohen group, which specializes in telecommunications law, has agreed to assess cable agreements for all of the COG's 13* member municipalities at no cost.
Cohen Law would collect a fee if it's asked to negotiate a joint agreement, Palyo says, and if five or more of the COG's municipalities agree to the partnership, the group will cut its fees 50 percent.
. . .
As part of a joint agreement, Twin Rivers COG might also be able to persuade Comcast to add new features and public-service channels, if its municipalities want to pursue those options, he says.
"Obviously, the big question is, 'Well, what can you do about getting our rates lowered?'" Palyo says. "This has nothing to do with that. But local governments do have some power when it comes to negotiating rights-of-way, services, and other things within their franchise authority."
. . .
According to published reports, Cohen Law has negotiated similar joint cable agreements on behalf of the North Hills and Turtle Creek Valley COGs in Allegheny County and for the Mercer County Regional COG.
However, not all of those attempts have been successful.
Last year, on behalf of the Steel Valley COG, Cohen Law tried to negotiate a joint agreement with Verizon for its fiber-optic cable and Internet service. According to a 2009 story by Michael DiVittorio in the Daily News, the joint approach was scuttled when Verizon pulled out of negotiations, and insisted the individual municipalities sign separate agreements,
. . .
But with the Mon Valley's communities facing stagnant or declining property tax revenues, the COG is trying to "be creative" on behalf of its communities, Palyo says.
"We need to find a way to maximize revenues," he says. "I think everyone should at least look at it and consider it."
(If the above video fails to load, click here.)
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Three firms --- one of which would bring as many as 1,000 jobs to the city --- are eying the industrial park on the former U.S. Steel National Works site.
But they won't relocate to McKeesport until a new access ramp into the property is complete.
That's the word from local, state and federal officials who attended a formal groundbreaking ceremony for the ramp on Monday morning.
"Those of us who were born and raised in this area, we remember what these sites once were for our parents and grandparents," said U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, Forest Hills Democrat. "But now we're thinking about what these sites will be for our children and our grandchildren ... Access is the key to making these sites work."
. . .
The ramp will connect with Lysle Boulevard at the foot of Coursin Street, then cross CSX Railroad's tracks between the Rite Aid and the Eat 'n Park. Construction is expected to be complete in November 2011.
Meanwhile, work continues to install new sewer lines to the vacant portion of the site.
And in the spring, Regional Industrial Development Corp., the non-profit corporation which owns the industrial park, will begin demolishing old concrete support structures in one of the empty buildings to make that structure more marketable.
"We have some $3 million to $4 million worth of site improvement activity going on besides the flyover ramps," said Don Smith Jr., RIDC president.
. . .
While there's been significant interest in the McKeesport property, the railroad crossings represent a figurative and literal obstacle, he said.
"We've seen an upsurge in prospects, but every one of them, literally, asks about access to the site," Smith said. "This flyover ramp we think is one of the keys to unlocking the value on this site."
Of the three active prospects for McKeesport, one is the new solar panel company which is considering a move to the old railroad roundhouse, said Bill Burroughs, RIDC vice president of project development. That facility would employ about 200 people.
. . .
Burroughs declined to name the other prospects, though city Administrator Dennis Pittman said they include a utility and what he described as a "regional transfer company." He also declined to be more specific.
Access to the industrial park has been a problem since the park was first created. Though several businesses are located in the park, its largest tenant, a Dish Network call center employing 600 people, closed in March. Company executives cited the railroad crossings as an impediment.
"For those of us in McKeesport, the trains don't seem to be a problem," Mayor Jim Brewster said, "but when you're in a service business, you can't afford to have your employees waiting for trains."
. . .
RIDC recently completed a flyover ramp into its industrial park in Duquesne, which like McKeesport was separated from surface roads by railroad tracks. While the ramps have been on the drawing board for more than a decade, they were delayed by a lack of funding.
"But no one ever lost sight of the goal, which was to provide safe access to these sites," said Dan Cessna, district executive for the state Department of Transportation.
A $6 million grant from the federal stimulus program closed the gap and made the ramp possible. The ramp's cost is currently estimated at $10.9 million.
Allegheny County public works officials are overseeing construction with assistance from the city, RIDC and PennDOT.
. . .
City officials have tried to court retail stores or restaurants to the property, but were hampered because of the crossings. "If we can convince RIDC that retail can be a possibility on this site, we certainly don't want people crossing railroad tracks," Brewster said.
Convincing RIDC to allow retail development on the site might be easier said than done. RIDC's Burroughs said the corporation prefers to market the site for industrial and manufacturing uses.
But he added RIDC has "had discussions with retailers over the years" and the flyover ramp "really makes it possible" to develop a shopping area on the site.
"If the right opportunity comes to put a major retailer here, we would welcome it," Burroughs said.
. . .
The new sewer lines are being installed by the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport, Pittman said. Though sewer lines were connected to the buildings when U.S. Steel owned the property, many of them emptied into the Monongahela River and can no longer be used, he said.
The lines will serve some existing customers and also open the site to future development, Pittman said.
RIDC's demolition work will take place in the large, empty structure next to the former Dish Network building. Contractors will remove old concrete support beams that once held pipe-making machinery and other equipment, Burroughs said.
City, county, state and federal officials will hold a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning for the new flyover ramp into the RIDC Industrial Park.
The long-awaited ramp --- estimated to cost about $8 million --- will allow traffic into the former U.S. Steel National Works site to bypass two railroad crossings that currently provide the only vehicular access.
Funded in part by the federal stimulus plan, the ramp will connect with Lysle Boulevard at the foot of Coursin Street --- between Eat 'n Park and the Rite Aid pharmacy --- and cross the CSX Railroad tracks.
But the ramp cleared one of its biggest hurdles on Sept. 3, when Eat 'n Park reached an agreement to vacate part of the parking lot of the restaurant in exchange for the alley on the east side of the property.
Mayor Jim Brewster, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle of Penn Hills, and district representatives from the state Department of Transportation are scheduled to attend Monday's ceremony.
. . .
City Police Seek 'Suspicious' Driver: City police are looking for a driver spotted for several days lurking near a school bus stop in Highland Grove.
The suspect is described as a light-skinned black male in his late 20s, with "bushy eyebrows" and driving a black car.
Police say on Tuesday, the man approached a young girl waiting for a bus at the corner of Highland Avenue and Lime Street and began asking her personal questions, refusing to leave her alone until she finally left the bus stop. She was not harmed.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at (412) 675-5015.
. . .
White Oak P.D. Slate 'Stranger' Program: White Oak police will host a "stranger danger" program at 2 p.m. Oct. 10 at the borough municipal building, 2280 Lincoln Way.
The program is open to the public and no registration is necessary. Parents and guardians are encouraged to attend. For details, call the police department at (412) 672-9726.
. . .
School Sets Craft Show: Mon Valley School will host a craft show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 23, a spokesman says.
The school --- one of three special education centers operated by the Allegheny Intermediate Unite --- is located at 555 Lewis Run Road, Jefferson Hills, between CCAC South Campus and Bowser Pontiac.
A $2 admission ticket also provides a free entry into a "Chinese auction." In addition to craft tables, food and refreshments will be for sale, and door prizes will be given away.
All proceeds benefit student activities at Mon Valley School.