Filed Under: Commentary/Editorial, History, Politics || By Jason Togyer
Category: News || By Staff and Submitted Reports
Penn State students and alumni from the McKeesport campus will head to Harrisburg Tuesday to lobby legislators and ask them not to cut support for higher education.
A spokeswoman for the Greater Allegheny Campus says the Penn State Grassroots Network has joined forces with three student government groups to organize this year's Penn State Capital Day.
Small teams of students, alumni and friends of Penn State will meet with state legislators and provide updates on the university's programs.
According to a Penn State press release, the university is trying to emphasize that it provides education, training and research that directly benefits taxpayers by improving the state's business climate, creating jobs, supporting agriculture and boosting quality of life.
In addition, alumni and students will rally at 12 noon Tuesday in the main rotunda of the state Capitol.
Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed 2011-12 state budget, unveiled March 10, would slash Pennsylvania's support to Penn State University by more than 50 percent --- from $334 million to $165 million. Other state-related universities, including the University of Pittsburgh, and the 14 state-owned universities, including those in California and Indiana boroughs, would see cuts of similar magnitude.
During a press conference March 11 in University Park, Penn State President Graham Spanier called the proposal "devastating" and said that state subsidies are used to support the cost of tuition for in-state Pennsylvania residents, as well as to operate the statewide network of county agriculture extension offices.
"It will undoubtedly push the cost of a Penn State education out of reach for many Pennsylvania families who are already at the maximum level of loans and grants," he said.
Spanier added that cutting the subsidy so drastically would lead to tuition increases, furloughs of many employees and the "distinct possibility" of closure of some of the university's branch, or "Commonwealth," campuses. He called it the "single largest appropriation cut in the history of American higher education."
. . .
Adult Ed Administrator Honored: An administrator at Penn State's McKeesport campus is this year's winner of an award that recognizes "visionary accomplishments" towards educating adult learners.
JeanMarie Jacob of Forest Hills was chosen from among nominees across the state to receive the Shirley Hendrick Award. Named for a former associate dean for continuing education in Penn State's Smeal College of Business Administration, the Hendrick Award is presented each year by Penn State Outreach.
The award includes a $1,000 stipend. Jacob was recognized at a faculty-staff luncheon March 23.
"JeanMarie is committed to researching, developing and implementing innovative adult programming that culminates in employment opportunities for Penn State Greater Allegheny students in our region's growing job sectors," said Rosemarie Picconi, director of continuing education for the Greater Allegheny Campus,
A graduate of Penn State, Jacob has served as area representative for education and training at Penn State Greater Allegheny for two years and has worked in the campus' continuing education department for six years. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in adult education, a spokeswoman said.
"As a returning adult student, I can sympathize with the many challenges adults face when making the decision to return to higher education," Jacob said in a prepared statement. "This award is especially meaningful to me because the nomination came from my co-workers and clients. I am grateful to have such great people to work with and I truly appreciate their support."
. . .
New Textbook Fund Established: A new textbook support fund will help students at the McKeesport campus to pay for those items, as well as instructional supplies and other material.
The fund --- created with $20,000 in proceeds from last year's "All That's Jazz" fundraiser, as well as private donations --- the money will be offered to eligible students at the Greater Allegheny Campus who show a "high financial need," a spokeswoman says.
Books obtained from the program will be considered loaned and will be returned after use so that other students can obtain them. There is no limit to the amount of support a student can receive if they qualify, and no limit to the number of times a student can get assistance if they remain eligible, a spokeswoman says.
For more information, call the Penn State Center for Academic Excellence and Career Program office at (412) 675-9491 or the Learning Center at (412) 675-9454.
Category: Cartoons, Commentary/Editorial || By Jason Togyer
Making good on his promise not to raise taxes, Gov. Tom Corbett has released a $27.3 billion budget ... public schools, state-related universities and the Department of Community and Economic Development took the biggest hits.
The spending plan cuts basic education funding from $9.9 billion to $9.1 billion ... the DCED budget, meanwhile, was slashed from $337.9 million to $223.6 million.
Support for the four state-related universities, which include the University of Pittsburgh, was halved in the budget proposal ... the Corbett budget also cuts funding in half for the State System of Higher Education, which includes 14 colleges.
Corbett ... wants to cut environmental protection funding from $147 million to $140 million, even as more and more energy companies are introducing chemicals into the ground as they drill for natural gas.
(Tracie Mauriello and Laura Olson, Post-Gazette's Early Returns Blog)
Category: Announcements || By Submitted Reports
Kindergarten and pre-k registration for the 2011-12 school year in the McKeesport Area School District will be held from 12 noon to 7 p.m. May 4 and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 5.
The sessions will be held in the gymnasium of Founders Hall Middle School, 3600 O'Neil Blvd. at Eden Park Boulevard, says Kristen Davis, district spokeswoman.
To register for kindergarten, children must be at least 5 years old on or before Aug. 31. They must be registered by a parent or legal guardian, and the parent or guardian should bring the child's birth certificate, immunization records and proof of residency within the McKeesport Area School District. (Mortgage or rental agreements, utility bills and tax statements are all considered valid proof of residency.)
To register for pre-k, including Pre-K Counts and partners such as Long Run Children's Learning Center, Tender Care, Head Start and Vocational Head Start, students must be at least 3 years old on or before Aug. 31. Both 3- and 4-year-olds are eligible for pre-k.
Only a legal parent or guardian may register a child, but the child does not have to be present at the registration session.
To download all of the requirements, visit the district's website and click on the link under the heading, "KINDERGARTEN AND PRE-K REGISTRATION." For more information, call (412) 948-1386.
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Construction Begins Thursday on Clairton-Glassport Bridge: Work begins Thursday on a $4 million project to repair and upgrade the Clairton-Glassport Bridge, a spokesman says.
Jim Struzzi, district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, says work will include replacement of guide rails and barriers, repair and replacement of expansion joints, upgrades to traffic signals, repairs to the bridge structure, painting and other improvements. The project continues through October.
Built in 1987, the bridge connects state Route 837 with Glassport-Elizabeth Road and carries about 12,000 vehicles daily, according to PennDOT traffic volume maps. Beginning Monday, traffic on the bridge will be restricted to a single 11-foot-wide lane in each direction, Struzzi says.
The prime contractor is J.F. Shea Construction of Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County.
. . .
South Park Golf Course, Tennis Courts Open Friday: Golf courses and tennis courts in Allegheny County parks will open for the season on Friday, a spokesman says.
In the Mon-Yough area, a nine-hole, par-35 course is operated at South Park, while tennis courts are located at South and Boyce parks.
Season golf permits are available for $60 for senior citizens and disabled American veterans with identification cards. Season locker permits are available for $25. Hours of the South Park course are dawn to 7 p.m., and rates vary according to age and day of the week.
For more information, call the South Park golf course at (412) 835-3545, or visit the county's website.
The tennis courts are free to the public and open every day from 8 a.m. until sunset. The courts are also available for high school matches and practices for $30 per session. More information is available at the county's website.
Category: Events, News || By Submitted Report
Members of North Braddock Cares will show off the borough's revitalized Braddock's Field neighborhood during an open house April 8.
The event, dubbed "Cupcakes, Cookies and Craftsmanship," includes a tour of a newly renovated home for sale at 614 Baldridge Ave. It runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Leanne Aurich, spokeswoman for the Mon Valley Initiative, says the house is among the last of 30 new or renovated houses developed by North Braddock Cares, is a nonprofit community development corporation that's trying to foster "economic and social development" in the borough. The group meets the fourth Monday of every month at 7 p.m. in the North Braddock Borough building.
In addition to the homes, the $7.6 million project includes a new basketball court and extensive landscaping. The project --- which also incorporates a portion of neighboring Braddock Borough --- began in 2008 and wrapped up in September, Aurich says.
The house at 614 Baldridge Avenue includes a fenced-in yard, front and rear porches, two bedrooms, one full bathroom plus a powder room, an eat-in kitchen and a separate dining room, and is priced at $49,000.
The tour will be hosted by members of North Braddock Cares and staff of the Mon Valley Initiative, Aurich says. For more information, call (412) 464-4000.
. . .
Job, Career Events Slated: In other business, Mon Valley Initiative will host six events in April to connect job seekers with employment.
Participants --- including Comcast, Express Employment Professionals, Labor Management Clearinghouse and Shelton Trade Center --- will be at the MVI office on Eighth Avenue in Homestead to host on-site recruiting events and information sessions.
Attendees should dress in "business casual" attire, Aurich says. Hats, hoodies and sunglasses are not permitted.
The recruiting and hiring events begin at 1:30 p.m. sharp and include:
Category: Announcements || By Submitted Reports
Category: Commentary/Editorial || By Jason Togyer
It's been more than a year since I announced that Tube City Online was looking for writing and reporting help ... and that I was even willing to pay for assigned contributions.
The response has been underwhelming, to put it gently.
In a related matter, you may have noticed that activity at Tube City Almanac has been fairly light this month. Well, when the primary editorial voice (a phrase I stole from Ohio Media Watch) is also the only editorial voice, things tend to drag.
I'm just running out of gas. I am doing 95 percent of this website by myself, and after 15 years of it, I'm just tired.
. . .
So I'm going to lay it on the line: Either I get some help, or I drastically scale back the site. This isn't a threat; it's just the reality of trying to hold down a job and have some semblance of a life.
I continue to believe there's a need for Tube City Almanac and Tube City Online. The reasons I cited back in December 2009 in this interview with Chris Potter of Pittsburgh City Paper remain true today:
Togyer tells me he launched the site in part because "the Pittsburgh media really doesn't care about McKeesport unless we're shooting each other." There are exceptions, of course: Togyer has kinds words for the Mon Valley beat reporters at both the Trib and the Post-Gazette. But extra voices never hurt.
Togyer's goal is to provide "newsmagazine-type coverage" of his community -- occasionally breaking stories, but more often shedding a different light on them. Which is why he's looking for help now.
Category: Events, News || By Staff and Submitted Reports
McKeesport firefighters responded to 61 calls in February, fire Chief Kevin Lust told city council earlier this month.
A civil-service examination was held March 5 for 21 applicants for part-time firefighting positions. The department's biggest need is for part-time firefighters who can fill weekday positions, the chief said.
Federal grants have paid for new equipment, including 5-inch hoses and thermal imaging cameras, Lust said.
McKeesport police Chief Bryan Washowich reported that officers received 1,559 calls in February, making 129 arrests and issuing 157 traffic citations. Officers tagged 21 abandoned vehicles on city streets and were forced to tow five.
More than 600 parking citations were issued in February.
Officers held community outreach events at Centennial and George Washington elementary schools, TenderCare day care and the LaRosa Boys and Girls Club; a "junior police academy" at Founder's Hall Middle School on Feb. 9; and a crime watch meeting in Myer Park on Feb. 28.
On Feb. 24, in cooperation with Allegheny County Juvenile Probation, McKeesport police participated in the second of four planned call-in sessions for troubled youth, Washowich said.
In addition, police are increasing their patrols of the areas around Founder's Hall and McKeesport Area High School during dismissals to curb rowdy behavior, Washowich said. McKeesport Area School District officials have been "extremely cooperative" in helping police identify unruly students, he said.
. . .
Cassatt Talk at Library: Carnegie Library of McKeesport will hold a discussion of the life and works of painter Mary Cassatt on March 24. The discussion will be led by Amanda Zehnder, associate curator of the Fine Arts Department at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
Born in 1844 in Allegheny City, now part Pittsburgh's North Side, Mary Stevenson Cassatt lived much of her adult life in France. In an era when few women were allowed to pursue professional careers, Cassatt became one of the most important "impressionists" and her work was shown alongside those of Degas and other prominent French artists.
Many of Cassatt's paintings depict the everyday lives of women and children. Zehnder's talk will explore Cassatt's links to Pittsburgh, her role in the Impressionist movement and her works.
The talk begins at 6:45 p.m. and will last approximately an hour. Refreshments will be served, but registration is requested. For more information, go to the library's website or call (412) 672-0625. The library is located at 1507 Library Ave.
. . .
'Run and Fun' April 16: The American Cancer Society will hold its 10th annual Renziehausen Park five-kilometer run and one-mile walk on April 16.
Registration begins at 7:45 a.m. at the "blue top" Jakomas Pavilion and the race begins at 9 a.m. Advance registration is $15 and includes a T-shirt. Race day registration is $18. Checks should be made payable to "American Cancer Society."
Awards will be given to the top three runners (male and female) in each age bracket and the first walkers (male and female) to complete the 5K. All fun-mile participants will receive ribbons for completing the course.
For more information, call Janice Boyko at (412) 885-2537.
Category: Events, News || By Submitted Reports
Penn State's campus in McKeesport will hold a five-kilometer run/walk to benefit a local charity.
The run begins at the Greater Allegheny Campus' residence hall parking lot at 9 a.m. April 9. Registration is $25 for adults and Penn State staff and $15 for students. The registration fee includes a T-shirt, and participants can register online.
A campus spokeswoman says the 5K will benefit McKeesport-based Sonshine Community Ministries. The ministry provides clothing, food and counseling services to area residents. The event was created to provide students at Penn State Greater Allegheny the opportunity to be challenged both physically and mentally while contributing to their surrounding community.
The 5K is being hosted by the Penn State Greater Allegheny Student Government Association and is sponsored by the Penn State Greater Allegheny Alumni Society.
Check-in will be held from 8 to 8:30 a.m. and runners will be timed by Runner's High of Grove City.
For more information, contact Sara Holtzman via email at email@example.com or at (412) 675-9223.
. . .
Speaker to Discuss Human Trafficking: Slavery and exploitation remains a problem throughout the world, says a Carlow University who will deliver a lecture at Penn State's campus in McKeesport next week.
Mary Burke's presentation on "modern day slavery" begins at 12:15 p.m. March 22 in the Ostermayer Room of the campus' Student Community Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Burke is director of Carlow's doctoral program in counseling psychology and also serves as affiliate faculty in the Department of Counseling and Human Services at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
A graduate of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and the University of Memphis, Burke's primary teaching interests are in counseling, clinical techniques and the mental wellness of underserved groups. But Burke also founded and directs the Project to End Human Trafficking, a non-profit group that works regionally, nationally and internationally to raise awareness about the enslavement and economic exploitation of human beings.
She currently represents the Association for Women in Psychology on the United Nations Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations Committee on Mental Health.
Burke's appearance is a part of the Globalization and Sustainability Speaker Series sponsored by Penn State Greater Allegheny's Teaching International, Greener Allegheny and Honors programs.
. . .
Churches Host Wednesday Lenten Services: The McKeesport Ministerium is sponsoring ecumenical Lenten community services on Wednesdays through April 13.
Services are held at 12 noon and a light lunch is served following each service. A free-will offering is collected.
Upcoming services will be held:
Category: Events, News || By Staff and Submitted Reports
A city charter school has received its third consecutive EPIC award for student achievement.
Propel McKeesport and its sister school in Kennedy Township were two of only 18 charter schools across the United States to receive Effective Practice Incentive Community awards from New Leaders for New Schools, says Anne D'Appolonia, director of development.
EPIC last year named Propel McKeesport the top charter school out of 89 in the United States that were surveyed.
The award was the first EPIC for Propel Montour, she says. The two schools together serve about 400 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
According to the award citation, 90 percent of Propel McKeesport students in 2010 scored "proficient" or "advanced" on state standardized reading and math tests.
The test scores are comparable with those in more affluent school districts such as North Allegheny, Fox Chapel, Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair, D'Appolonia says, even though some 84 percent of McKeesport students qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches.
Established in 2006, New Leaders for New Schools is funded by private foundations, corporations and donors, with additional funding coming from the U.S. Department of Education's Teacher Incentive Fund. The group is designed to allow charter schools to share their best practices and also encourages members to tie incentive pay for teachers and administrators to student performance.
Propel McKeesport and Montour were chosen for EPIC awards from among 175 charter schools in 23 states and Washington, D.C., D'Appolonia says.
. . .
Brewster Tribute, Roast Set Saturday: Friends, allies and maybe even a few antagonists of state Sen. Jim Brewster will pay tribute --- and poke a little fun --- at his career this weekend.
Author Jim O'Brien will serve as master of ceremonies at a testimonial/roast of Brewster on Saturday at the Palisades ballroom, Downtown. Singer Bo Wagner, famous locally for his Frank Sinatra impersonation, will provide entertainment, along with strolling violinists The Gypsy Strings.
Tickets are $50, but the event is "entirely non-political and is not a fundraiser," says Mike Joyce of the Palisades. "We just wanted to praise Jimmy for what he's done and what he continues to do."
Brewster, a former vice president at Mellon Bank, served as an elected official for 16 years --- first as a McKeesport city councilman and then as mayor for seven. In November, he was elected to fill the remainder of state Sen. Sean Logan's term after Logan resigned to take a job with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Catering will be provided by Twin Oaks Lounge in White Oak. Doors open at 5:30 and dinner will be served at 6:30. Entertainment begins at 7:30. For more information, call Joyce at (412) 370-2971 or the Palisades at (412) 672-2001.
. . .
Port Vue Police Seek Burglars: Port Vue police are warning residents that two burglaries have been reported along Washington Boulevard in the borough.
On Sunday, a home in the 900 block was targeted and a 40-inch flat-panel TV and approximately 200 Hummel figurines were taken, police Chief Gary Cartia said in a statement. In another, separate theft, $285 was reported stolen from a home on Washington Boulevard, though no signs of forced entry were found, the chief said.
Anyone with information should contact Port Vue police at (412) 672-2255.
Category: Another Viewpoint, Commentary/Editorial || By Marc Gergely and Bill Kortz
(The following is a submitted commentary. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the board of directors of Tube City Community Media Inc. The authors are Democratic state representatives from White Oak and Dravosburg, respectively.)
By Marc Gergely and Bill Kortz
Gov. Tom Corbett presented his blueprint for spending for the next fiscal year last week. While he made some good points, and we knew to expect a tough budget, there is reason for grave concern.
Education is being hit hard all across Pennsylvania. A proposed cut of $1.5 billion would devastate our system of learning. Basic education, which is considered pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, is slated to be cut by $814 million.
Our local school districts will be hit hard --- projected funding cuts range from 8 percent to as high as 9.7 percent. Sadly, local property taxes would have to be increased to make up for Gov. Corbett's cuts. This is nothing more than a tax shift to our constituents, who have been hit hard enough in this economy. These draconian cuts are too drastic and must be changed.
Higher education was smacked with a 50 percent decrease in spending, and PHEAA's funding was slashed by $29.6 million. Tuition at higher education institutions will go through the roof under his plan --- those that survive the massive cuts, that is.
The University of Pittsburgh would lose $80 million, plus another $33 million in medical and research funding and Penn State's $186 million cut could threaten the McKeesport campus. Students at Slippery Rock, Indiana, Clarion, California and all 14 state-owned universities should expect a big tuition hike.
What Gov. Corbett proposes for education is a complete step backwards. In short, it is unrealistic and totally unacceptable.
Further, Gov. Corbett failed to address Pennsylvania's dire transportation needs. This $3 billion problem facing roads, bridges and transit wasn't even acknowledged in his budget proposal. Six thousand of Pennsylvania's 32,000 bridges are structurally deficient. We also have 10,000 miles of road crumbling. The Port Authority is cutting service on 29 routes this month and laying off hundreds of workers.
The governor made these severe cuts all while giving a pass to Big Business. He failed to address the business tax loopholes that could have mitigated drastic cuts to education, such as the On-Line Retailers sales tax, which could generate up to $300 million each year in revenue, and the Delaware loophole, which could bring in $600 million each year to Pennsylvania.
On Feb. 24, Gov. Corbett gave businesses a $200 million tax break --- and a mere five days later, he allowed 41,000 working class adults to be cut off from adultBasic health care coverage. That sends the wrong message to the people of Pennsylvania.
Corbett also gave a pass to Marcellus Shale gas players, an industry that gave him more than $1 million in campaign contributions. Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that does not have a severance tax.
Meanwhile, Corbett proposed a $7 million funding cut for the state Department of Environmental Protection. Already we have seen the impacts on our roads and water sources from natural gas drillers. The people of Pennsylvania must not be forced to pay for the cleanup required from this industry.
Gov. Corbett's message is a terrible one --- that businesses take priority over people. Corporate welfare comes first and students, working class families and retirees come second.
This proposal is drastically out of balance, shifting a significant tax burden to local school boards across the Commonwealth. We call on Reps. Rick Saccone, George Dunbar and Eli Evankovich to join us to amend this flawed budget to stop these cuts to our schools and protect the interests of the Mon Valley and beyond.
. . .
The preceding was a guest commentary. Responsible replies are welcome.
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 jtogyer -at - gmail -dot- com. Include contact information and your real name. A pen name may be substituted with approval of the editor.
Category: Events || By Submitted Report
Category: News || By Submitted Report
Crews will resume work on the Boston Bridge this Thursday --- weather permitting --- as a $17.3 million rehabilitation of the span continues.
The northbound lanes from Boston into Versailles will be completely closed from Thursday night through Friday morning so that workers can reinstall the paint containment system, says Jim Struzzi, district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. Southbound traffic will still be able to use the bridge.
Work began in September to replace beams, bearings and expansion joints; the steel and concrete bridge deck; and the sidewalks and railings on the nearly 1,200-foot bridge, which was built in 1931 and daily carries about 17,000 vehicles. The bridge carries state Route 48 over the Youghiogheny River between Versailles and Elizabeth Township.
The official detour for passenger cars takes traffic bound for McKeesport south on Route 48 to Finney Road; then west to Liberty Way, north to Washington Boulevard, down Rebecca Street to West Fifth Avenue, across the Jerome Avenue Bridge into Downtown, then onto Route 148 (Walnut Street) and back to Boston.
Trucks are required to take Route 48 south to Route 51; then take Route 51 north to Route 837 north, across the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge, onto Route 148 and then back to the Boston Bridge.
Work on the Boston Bridge will continue through this fall. Normal traffic patterns will be maintained during daylight hours from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., Struzzi says, but lanes will be restricted to 10 feet wide and periodic 15-minute traffic stoppages may occur in either direction at anytime.
In addition, one of the sidewalks on the bridge is currently closed to pedestrians. General contractor is Trumbull Corp. of Pittsburgh.
Category: Commentary/Editorial, History, Politics || By Jason Togyer
Commentaries represent the views of individual authors and are not those of Tube City Community Media Inc., its directors or affiliates.
Guest commentaries from residents of the McKeesport area and surrounding municipalities are welcomed. To submit a commentary for consideration, please write to P.O. Box 94, McKeesport 15134, or email jtogyer -at - gmail -dot- com. Include contact information and your real name. A pen name may be substituted with approval of the editor.)
. . .
"Nazi" and "fascist" have been slung around so much in the last 50 years that the words are almost meaningless. As several commentators have noted recently in reference to Glenn Beck --- who has essentially re-defined "Nazism" to mean anything he doesn't like --- references to Nazis should probably be confined to talking about actual Nazis.
But at some point, if something walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, has feathers and swims in the water, it's safe to call it a duck.
At what point will our so-called liberal media wake up and realize that we're seeing the rise of a fascist movement in the United States?
(Click the "More" link to continue ...)
Category: News || By Jason Togyer
Council may open an investigation into whether the city is being overcharged for garbage collection.
At issue are figures which show that the amount of trash being picked up has increased more than 20 percent, even as McKeesport's population has continued to drop.
While officials say that poor recycling compliance by residents and garbage dumping by out-of-towners may account for some of the increase, council members this week asked publicly whether Nickolich Sanitation of Clairton, which has held the city's trash contract since 2008, is mingling garbage picked up from other municipalities with trash collected in McKeesport.
Because McKeesport pays for trash collection by the ton and not by the number of houses collected, that would make the city's tonnage figures artificially high.
As of 2 p.m. Friday, Company President Nickolas Nickolich had not returned a phone call from Tube City Almanac seeking comment.
. . .
McKeesport pays Nickolich $73 per ton for trash collection, then bills homeowners a municipal service fee for garbage removal and other activities. Residents may put out as much garbage as they want to, though businesses are required to contract for their own trash removal, and contracting waste or commercial garbage isn't supposed to be removed by Nickolich as part of its residential trash collection.
The city paid $170,000 more for garbage collection in 2010 than it budgeted, City Controller Raymond Malinchak says.
It is possible that more garbage is being put out by residents, officials say, though they add a 20 percent swing is unlikely. "We had a target amount that we budgeted, and we went over the budget, but ultimately, we have to pick up the garbage that's out there --- that's the bottom line," Malinchak says.
Recyclables are still collected by city public works employees, although the city is considering using a private contractor and reassigning those workers to other duties, probably in the street department, City Administrator Dennis Pittman says.
Switching trash collection from Allied Waste to Nickolich was expected to save McKeesport taxpayers about $1.5 million over the life of the contract, Council President MIchael Cherepko says. While the city is still saving money by using Nickolich, he says it's not the savings council was promised.
. . .
Council this week was considering a proposal to extend Nickolich's contract through 2014, and was prepared to award the company the contract to collect recyclables as well. But the doubts about the unexpected increase in the amount of trash being collected led council to put those actions on hold.
Officials also want to know whether there's any truth to an anonymous letter sent to all city council members that accuses Nickolich of picking up McKeesport trash using garbage trucks that aren't completely empty, and not subtracting the weight of that garbage from the bills being sent to the city --- in effect, double-billing.
Nickolich also collects garbage in several nearby Mon Valley municipalities, including Elizabeth Township, Port Vue, Pitcairn and New Eagle.
Although no one from Nickolich Sanitation spoke at this week's council meeting, at least two of its competitors --- Allied and Waste Management --- did attend. Representatives of both companies urged the city to rebid the trash collection contract at the end of this year.
. . .
Some neighboring municipalities charge residents by-the-bag for garbage collection, or limit the amount of trash that can be placed outside for collection. If the amount of garbage generated in McKeesport really has increased dramatically, Mayor Regis McLaughlin says, it may be time for McKeesport to join other communities that charge by the bag or in limiting the amount of trash put out by each household.
Among those pressing for an official investigation is Councilman Darryl Segina, who's challenging Cherepko, Malinchak and McLaughlin for the Democratic nomination for mayor. While Segina says the anonymous letter sent to council "should be taken with a grain of salt," he says the city does need to examine Nickolich's hauling practices.
"I don't care who picks (the garbage) up, as long as we're getting a fair price, and we're getting billed for the right amount of tonnage," Segina says.
Category: News || By Jason Togyer
What The Daily News has dubbed the city's "solicitor drama" has now been held over for a third straight month.
City council on Wednesday was poised to appoint Gary Matta of Dodaro, Matta and Cambest as McKeesport's attorney of record, but Matta withdrew his name from consideration before last night's scheduled vote.
Matta is the second attorney to remove his name from nomination. In February, Mayor Regis McLaughlin nominated Bert Moldovan, a McKeesport attorney who would have served the city in conjunction with a Pittsburgh law firm headed by former Allegheny County Solicitor Ira Weiss.
But after McLaughlin and several members of council clashed at the February meeting, Moldovan's nomination was taken off of council's agenda. Now Moldovan and Weiss "are no longer interested," McLaughlin told the Almanac on Tuesday.
. . .
Dodaro's firm would have been considerably cheaper than either Weiss' firm or former City Solicitor J. Jason Elash, the mayor said. While Elash was a full-time city employee with a salary of $120,000, Dodaro, Matta and Cambest would have been independent contractors with a monthly retainer of $1,500, plus an hourly rate of $100.
"I'm trying to save the city some money," McLaughlin said. "It's a big savings."
McLaughlin in December told Elash he would not be reappointed as the city's solicitor. The move came as candidates prepared for a heated Democratic mayoral primary which has pitted McLaughlin, the city's interim mayor, against three current councilmen --- Cherepko and Councilors Darryl Segina and A.J. Tedesco Jr. --- along with City Controller Ray Malinchak.
Former McKeesport Area school director Lori Spando is also an announced candidate for the Democratic nomination.
. . .
Although McLaughlin has not given any public reason for his decision to replace Elash, Elash's past political support of Cherepko is rumored to be a factor.
Elash has continued to provide legal advice as requested on a pro bono basis and has attended all of the recent council meetings. But Matta's withdrawal means that for the third straight month, the city is without formal legal representation.
"My impression was that (Matta) didn't want to get involved in everything that's been going on," Cherepko said. "He didn't want to be considered at all unless it was a 7-0 consensus" vote of city council.
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Also on Wednesday's agenda was a resolution to appoint Elash as "special counsel" to city council at a flat fee of $3,333 per month. Council by unanimous vote pulled that item from consideration.
Cherepko asked McLaughlin to meet with him "at any time" to discuss an "amicable solution," but said he didn't want to publicly rehash the dispute. "There's no reason for us to air our dirty laundry again," Cherepko said.
Category: News || By Staff and Submitted Reports
McKeesport Trail Commission has announced its schedule of meetings for the year.
Meetings are open to the public and will be held at 6 p.m. in McKees Cafe in the Palisades ballroom, Fifth Avenue at Water Street, Downtown, on March 22, April 26, May 24, June 28, July 26, Aug. 23, Sept. 27 and Oct. 25.
In addition, the commission's Winter 2011 newsletter has been distributed and is available for free download from Tube City Online. The six-page newsletter includes stories about the new trailhead informational kiosk located near the McKees Point Marina and recent cleanup days along the trail.
Current Trail Commission members are Linda Brewster, president; Kimberly Myers, vice president; Bob Baum, treasurer; Joyce MacGregor, secretary; Mayor Regis McLaughlin; Darlene Allen; Lynn Dougherty; Rev. Brian Evans, newsletter editor; and Laura Jenkins.
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Mansfield Bridge Closings Begin: Allegheny County Public Works today announced long-term lane restrictions on the William D. Mansfield Bridge.
Beginning at 10 p.m. Sunday, traffic on the Mansfield Bridge will be restricted to one lane in each direction until further notice. Traffic exiting the bridge will have no restrictions. The lane closures are necessary for contractors to work on the bridge.
In addition, between the hours of 2 and 6 a.m. on Monday, the contractor will completely stop traffic in both directions for up to 15 minutes to conduct repairs. After the closure, the bridge will reopen to traffic with one lane in each direction. There will be no detour posted for this short-term closure.
Opened in 1951, the more than 1,900-foot-long bridge that connects Dravosburg with Glassport and McKeesport is owned and maintained by Allegheny County. A three-year-long, $35 million complete reconstruction program is scheduled to begin later this year.
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Dorothy's Candies Boosts Robotics Team: White Oak-based Dorothy's Candies is pledging its support to help the McKeesport Area High School robotics team attend two competitions later this month.
Through March 15, any promotional fundraising candy ordered through the store's website will be available at a 10 percent discount, and a portion of the sale will be contributed to the robotics team. Customers must type the promotional code "MASDROBOT" to receive the discount.
The discount is limited to web orders only, and only to items listed in the fundraising section, a spokeswoman said.
Coached by teacher Mike Dischner, McKeesport Area's Team 1708 competes in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, robotics league for students. The Pittsburgh Regional FIRST competition is slated for March 10 to 12 at the Petersen Events Center in Oakland.
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CCAC Job Fair Planned: Community College of Allegheny County will host a job fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 9 at its South Campus in West Mifflin.
The event will take place on the fourth floor of the campus' commons building.
Representatives from many of the region's employers will be present to answer questions and discuss job opportunities for full-time, part-time and summer employment.
The job fairs are open to CCAC students, alumni and the general public, a spokesman said. Attendees should dress in professional attire and bring copies of their resumes. For more information, call (412) 469-6214.
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MVI Homebuyer Workshop Slated: The Mon Valley Initiative will host a Homebuyer Education Workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 26.
Topics include budgeting to purchase a home, shopping for a loan, closing procedures and home maintenance, said Mike Mauer, MVI housing counselor. Attendees also will be taught qualification guidelines for low-to-moderate income loan products that offer down payment and closing cost assistance. Free parking as well as a light breakfast and lunch will be provided.
The workshop will be held at MVI's office, 305 East Eighth Ave., Homestead. For more and to register, call Mauer at (412) 464-4000, ext. 4008.
Category: Announcements, Politics || By Jason Togyer
(Political Candidates: Deadline for submissions to Tube City Almanac is May 2. Entries will be published May 9. Details below.)
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As a public service, Tube City Community Media Inc. again will make available this space as a free, public outlet for local political candidates --- with strict rules attached.
If you know any political candidates, please let them know of this opportunity. Deadline is May 2; profiles will be published at Tube City Online on May 9.
Profiles received after the deadline will be published at the editor's option, time permitting.
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Free Space for Candidates
1.) Any candidate for a municipal or school board office in the Duquesne City, McKeesport Area, South Allegheny or West Mifflin Area school districts* may submit a candidate profile for publication at Tube City Online.
2.) "Candidate" includes anyone registered to run in the Republican and/or Democratic primary. Independents, write-ins and third-party candidates will not be considered.**
3.) Candidate profiles may include biographical information, statements on various issues, and website URLs or other public contact information. Personal attacks on other candidates and commercial endorsements or other irrelevant information are not permitted. In case of any dispute over content, the decision of the editor is final.
4.) Candidate profiles must be 400 words or less. Handbills and fliers are acceptable submissions, but may be modified to fit the space or converted to plain text. Tube City Online reserves the right to edit for style with or without notice, at the editor's option.
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Complete rules follow after the "more" link and are subject to change at any time.
Thanks for your cooperation, and for running for local office!