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Congratulations Graduating Class! INSIDE: McKeesport Summer Concert Series Schedules McKeesport School District Information


Contents McKeesport Area | SUMMER 2011 |





McKeesport Area School District News Letter from the Superintendent | 3

32 |

A Message from the Distinguished Educator for the McKeesport Area | 4 McKeesport Area Contact Information | 5 Outstanding Young Citizen Award Nominees | 6 A Message from the President of the School Board | 7 Graduation Speeches | 8 Trike-A-Thon | 10 Fifth Graders and Kindergarten Students Work Together Using Dr. Seuss | 12 Pennies for Patients | 14 Promenade | 16 Building Updates | 18 | |

McKeesport Military Heroes McKeesport City News | Mayor’s Corner | 29



Pittsburgh Boat Sales & Miller’s Marine | 30 McKeesport Gains New Fire Rescue Boat | 31 Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce | 32 McKees Point Marina 2011 Free Concert Series | 34 2011 City Events | 35 High Tech Officer | 36 Equitable Gas Open House | 37 Serving The Mon Valley | 38


The McKeesport Heritage Center | 40 The Muse House | 42 McKeesport Neighborhood Initiative | 44 McKeesport Garden Club | 46 McKeesport’s International Village | 48


UPMC Today

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Health and Wellness News You Can Use | 21 INDUSTRY INSIGHTS


Equitable Gas


An energy efficient home makes more cents than ever | 19



McKeesport Area graduation and events.

McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 1

SUMMER 2011 Welcome to the Summer issue of

McKeesport Area Magazine.

Summer is so ripe with opportunities for communities to come together. There are Community Days, Fourth of July fireworks, church picnics, Little League baseball games, swimming at the local pool, summer reading activities at the local library, Farmers Markets. The list goes on and on. And some of those activities are listed in this edition.

IN McKeesport Area is a community publication dedicated to representing, encouraging and promoting the McKeesport area and its comprising municipalities by focusing on the talents and gifts of the people who live and work here. Our goal is to provide readers with the most informative and professional regional publication in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. PUB LIS H ER

Summer’s also a great time for traveling, although, with gas prices the way they are, many of us won’t be going too far from home. That’s okay because there are some wonderful sights right in your own backyard. For example, we visited the McKeesport Garden Club’s glorious Rose Garden and Arboretum in Renzie Park. The roses are in full bloom! Right next door to the garden is the McKeesport Heritage Center. We talk about the center’s upcoming book of vintage postcards. In this edition, we also talk to McKeesport Police Officer Mike Mihalko, who tackles high tech crimes. McKeesport Area School District held commencement ceremonies recently for its Class of 2011. Congratulations to all the new graduates. Yes, it’s finally summer! So let’s throw some burgers on the grill, find a shady tree, a lounge chair and a cold glass of lemonade and enjoy the sunshine!

Wayne Dollard M A NAGING ED ITOR

Marybeth Jeffries R EGIONA L ED ITOR

Monica L. Haynes OFFIC E M A NAGER

Leo Vighetti W R ITER

Pamela Palongue GR A PH IC D ES IGN

Wayne Dollard Publisher

Anna Buzzelli Cassie Brkich Sharon Cobb Susie Doak

Jan McEvoy Joe Milne Gail Murray Tamara Tylenda


Hello. I’m Monica Haynes, the new Eastern Regional Editor for Community Magazines. I’m quite at home in the eastern suburbs because, well, that’s where I live, too. I also have quite a bit of experience with suburban news coverage, having done it for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I also was a magazine writer and entertainment columnist for the PG. Some of you I’ve had the opportunity to meet out and about as we’ve been working on stories for this edition of McKeesport Area. I look forward to getting out in the community even more, to meet the people, attend the events and see the sights and sounds that help make your community what it is. Community Magazines is about community, YOUR community. We really can’t do this without your input. We want to know what’s going on in your municipal governments, your schools, churches, libraries, civic organizations. We want to honor those members of your community who are serving in the armed forces; those who are serving others in the community, those who have fascinating hobbies or who have done something extraordinary. If there are things going on in your community or people in your community that we should know about, please email me at As you enjoy the warmth of the summer sun, I hope you enjoy this edition of McKeesport Area Magazine!

Brad Lauer

Jack Megaw


Derek Bayer Brian Daley Gina D’Alicandro Tina Dollard Rose Estes John Gartley Jason Huffman Lori Jeffries Rita Lengvarsky Connie McDaniel Brian McKee

David Mitchell Tamara Myers Gabriel Negri Robert Ojeda Annette Petrone Vincent Sabatini Michael Silvert RJ Vighetti Nikki CapezioWatson

This magazine is carrier route mailed to all district households and businesses. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Copyright 2011. CORRESPONDENCE All inquiries, comments and press releases should be directed to: IN Community Magazines Attn: Editorial 603 East McMurray Road McMurray, PA 15317 Ph: 724.942.0940 Fax: 724.942.0968

Fall content deadline: 7/20

Monica L. Haynes Eastern Regional Editor Please recycle this magazine when you are through enjoying it.


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McKeesport Area

McKeesport A R E A SCHOOL DISTRICT Dear MASD Community Members, The culmination of an entire district community’s efforts was on display June 8 at McKeesport Area’s Weiggle-Shaffer Memorial Stadium with the graduation of 256 students from the class of 2011. The problem solving and critical thinking skills developed throughout their scholastic career has prepared our graduates for many of the challenges that lie ahead. It is with great pride that we welcome these graduates into the illustrious group of MAHS alumni as they follow their chosen paths to a successful and fulfilling life. The commencement exercises signified the conclusion of an exciting and eventful 2010-2011 school year. Among those topics dominating the headlines throughout the state of Pennsylvania has been the governor’s proposed cuts to public education. The initial proposal indicated that the McKeesport Area School District would have to operate with nearly $4.4 million less in state subsidy. Only through teamwork and collaboration with district staff has the school board and

news administrative team been able to effectively address this financial crisis. The teachers and administrators agreed to take a pay freeze for the first half of next school year and the Board of Directors offered an Early Retirement Incentive that was taken advantage of by 35 members of our teaching staff, enabling significant savings to help “bridge” the financial gap to a balanced budget. I applaud these efforts by the staff and school board as they are atypical and not evidenced in many districts throughout the state of Pennsylvania. These, along with multiple other cost saving measures, have enabled us to preserve the outstanding programming that has always been offered as a part of McKeesport Area. Please share our pride in the many examples of what is happening throughout your community’s school system in this issue of IN McKeesport Area. Enjoy the following MASD pages and we encourage everyone to visit to keep up with your schools. Thank you for everything you do for the children of our district. Congratulations and good luck to the graduating class of 2011!

Sincerely, Timothy M. Gabauer, Ed.D Superintendent

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Message from the Distinguished


Educator for the McKeesport Area Dear McKeesport Area Community Members,

For three years, it has been my privilege to represent the Department of Education serving in the capacity of Distinguished Educator for the McKeesport Area School District. The Distinguished Educator (DE) Initiative is a program developed by the Department

“Although your school administration and teachers are working hard to provide quality educational experiences for all students, they need community and parental support.” of Education to assign experienced educators to assist schools and districts who are in Corrective Action. As McKeesport’s Distinguished Educator, I have worked collaboratively with administrators and educators focusing


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McKeesport Area

upon data-informed decision making and assisting with the implementation of the State’s Standards Aligned System. The State’s Standards Aligned System emphasizes the importance of increasing student achievement through the implementation of clear standards, fair assessments, a standards-aligned curriculum, proven effective instructional strategies, appropriate materials and resources, and research based interventions. During the past three years, it has been a pleasure to have worked closely with your Superintendent, curriculum coordinators, principals and instructional coaches to improve the quality of education for your students. McKeesport’s administrators and teachers are constantly striving to increase student achievement and to assist students in developing the skills they will need for success in the workforce or higher education following graduation. It has been refreshing to observe the collaboration of teacher teams, facilitated by curriculum coordinators and instructional coaches, as they met in small collaborative groups to write Language Arts and math curriculum and create common benchmark and

formative assessments. Teacher teams also met with Instructional Coaches to analyze student achievement data to identify what their students knew and were able to do and to determine goals for helping all students to master the State’s Academic Standards and achieve proficiency on the PSSA. I have observed an improvement in the quality of classroom instruction in buildings where the curriculum coordinator and building principals used the district’s Instructional Round walkthrough tool to provide teachers positive feedback and mentoring assistance. Instruction improved within these classrooms as students became actively engaged, instructional rigor increased, formative assessments guided instruction, and teachers implemented proven effective educational practices. Although your school administration and teachers are working hard to provide quality educational experiences for all students, they need community and parental support. Decades of research shows that when parents are involved students earn higher grades, attendance rates are higher, suspension rates are lower, the use of drugs and alcohol decreases, and there are fewer instances of violent behavior. Examples of ways parents may support education include:

McKeesport Area Contact Information School Board of Directors James L. Brown Joseph L. Chiaverini Christopher A. Halaszynski Mark P. Holtzman Vice President Steven E. Kondrosky Dennis J. ( Joe) Lopretto Thomas P. Maglicco Patricia A. Maksin President Wayne N. Washowich

provide time and a quiet place for your child to study; discuss the value of education and the importance of hard work; encourage reading activities; and set high but realistic goals and expectations for your child’s academic achievement. The best curriculum and instruction will not be effective unless students are motivated and have a desire to learn. Students who drop out of school are more likely to be condemned to a lower standard of living. Students who work hard and take advantage of the educational opportunities provided by the school district are more likely to enjoy a promising future following graduation. I would like to close by expressing my deep appreciation to all the administrators and educators who made me feel so welcome and who have worked diligently with me for the past three years to improve the quality of education for McKeesport’s students. Thanks and best wishes for continued academic success to McKeesport School District’s students, administrators, educators, staff, board members, parents and community members.

Sincerely, Mona E. Eckley, Ph.D Distinguished Educator PA Department of Education

Central Administration Superintendent Dr. Timothy M. Gabauer 412.664.3612 Assistant Superintendent Dr. Rula S. Skezas 412.664.3613 Business Manager/ Board Secretary Mr. David M. Seropian 412.664.3600 Director of Human Resources/ Administration Services Mr. James G. Humanic 412.664.3608

Director of Federal/ State Programs (Homeless Liaison) Mr. Michael V. Matta 412.664.3627

Director of Early Childhood Education and Elementary Curriculum Dr. Catherine S. Lobaugh 412.948.1386

Director of Special Education Mrs. Patricia M. Tkacik 412.664.3622

Secondary Curriculum and Transformation Coordinator Mr. Harry A. Bauman 412.948.1310

Director Food Service Ms. Tammi T. Davis 412.664.3685 Administrative Team Special Education Supervisor Mr. David L. Listorti 412.664.3625

Principal of Cyber School/ District Technology Integration Dr. Jane L. Coughenour 412.948.1317 Communications/ Public Relations Specialist Ms. Kristen M. Davis 412.664.3645

Special Education Administrative Assistant Mr. Menas E. Zannikos 412.664.3624 Director of Career and Technology Education/ District Grants and Special Project Coordinator Mrs. Patricia J. Scales 412.948.1363

Director of Buildings and Grounds Mr. Edward F. Fagan 412.664.3631 Technology Coordinator Mr. H. Ben South 412.664.3764

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For 18 years, Trib Total Media has recognized the achievements of local, middle and high school students with the Outstanding Young Citizen Award. Family, friends, teachers and school officials can nominate students based on their character, academic achievements and community service. From all nominated students, 100 from each of five (5) defined regions are selected to receive the Outstanding Young Citizen Award and are invited to attend an awards banquet with their families. At the banquet, each student is individually recognized and presented with a certificate, and they receive a small gift. In addition, an independent panel of judges selects 10 students from each region to receive the Outstanding Young Citizen Gold Medal, signifying that they are among the very best of the best.




Thirteen MASD students have been nominated this year.

✯ Jayme Andrekanic

✯ Melissa Druskin

✯ Eleni Skezas

✯ Jessica Mols

✯ Noelle Novakovich

✯ Matt Pucalik

✯ Alexis Kost

✯ Brianna Toth

✯ Zachary DiBeradin

✯ Ethan Kisan

✯ Brandi Stalter

✯ Josh Walls

✯ Lauren Palmquist

Sixty-one percent of the faculty and staff of McKeesport Area School District are alumni!


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McKeesport Area

McKeesport Students Enlisted in Military Army

Air Force

Dana Hall Michael Moffitt Eric Moody Antoine Simmons Tyle Hrabley Parisia Hughes Evander Williams

Steve McQueen Marines

Keith Berbach Justin Kellerman

Message from the President of the


McKeesport Area School District Board of Directors As we close the book on the 2010-2011 school year and open a new chapter at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, there is a sense of excitement in the air. Our building projects are moving along with Francis McClure being expected to open at the end of this summer and for the beginning of the new school year. We finished the last school year strong and on a positive note with a gorgeous day for a graduation ceremony outdoors. In the following pages you will see some of the highlights from the graduation ceremony, the promenade and also a list of our graduating seniors who have selflessly joined our United States Armed Forces. Also, in this edition, our readers will get a glimpse into some activities held in our schools, some of which include the penny drive and collaborative work done in an elementary school. Additionally, you will get a first hand perspective on what our Distinguished Educator has to say about our district in a letter that she wrote upon her departure from the district. On behalf of the board of directors, I would also like to congratulate the class of 2011 and welcome them into a large and

successful group of alumni spanning world wide. Additional congratulations, for a job well done, should be extended to the fifty five retirees that we had from our district this year. One of the biggest factors in the overall success of our students and our district will always be our ability to work in partnership with our parents and the community. We hope that you feel welcome in our schools and that you will take advantage of opportunities to become involved, to learn more about your school district and to be a part of the many things that are taking place. Members of the school board of directors encourage parents and guardians to be actively involved, in all areas if the district, by attending board and building level meetings. Board Meetings are held on the fourth Wednesday of every month. Sessions begin at 7:30 p.m. in the board room at the district administration building, located at 3590 O’Neil Boulevard in McKeesport. On behalf of the board, enjoy a safe and healthy summer! Sincerely, Wayne N. Washowich President, McKeesport Area School District Board of Directors

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Thomas Neri, Class Salutatorian Commencement Speech – June 8, 2011

Commencement Speech – June 8, 2011 Graduation. . . A moment that we never thought would come so fast. As Senior Class President, I am honored to represent the Class of 2011, who has at times, had a good and bad reputation. We began this journey 12 years ago, a journey that has made us who we are today. We have all been through so much together. We will never forget those silly times like our 6th grade food fight at Cornell, to our 8th grade pool party. Remember that? We have had historic high school moments as well, from Zach DiBeridan’s field goal win against Penn Trafford and Delvon Simmons’ Army bowl draft, to Andre Forte and I being the first boys ever in Mckeesport history to join the dance team. We have all created memories that will last a lifetime!

It is an honor to be here, and to have the privilege of addressing school board members, administrators, teachers, parents, and most importantly, my fellow classmates. Most of us have spent the past 12 years together, and we are assembled here for the last time. Today marks the beginning of each of our separate journeys into the world, but we take with us into our futures all the lessons we have learned in academics and life, during our time at here McKeesport High School. In the time we have spent here, we have all found teachers that we favor, and who have inspired us. One of my favorite people in this building has to be Mr. Hegedus. Along the way he has influenced me through his words of advice. Last year he told me something very meaningful concerning my future. He said, “Be true to yourself, do whatever makes you happy, but be the best at whatever that is.” I think if we can all apply this towards our own future we can find true success in our lives. This class of 2011 is full of diverse personalities, but one thing you can say about us as individuals, is that we certainly stay true to ourselves. Despite the differences between us, we have grown together to achieve this milestone in our academic career. Through our differences we have seen success and failure, but in overcoming each obstacle, we have learned along the way. Tonight, our class of 2011 joins a proud institution of esteemed alumni. To graduate from McKeesport is to become part of a family of a broad tradition that extends over a century. In our close knit community we can always find support and comfort during times of success and failure. The pride found in being a tiger is something that will always bind us together. This bond that we share connects us to our home, where we have lived, learned, and grown together. Though our roots here are strong, as we go out into the world, we will learn that success is determined neither by economic nor social status but by our willingness to follow our dreams and to never be afraid to do what makes us happy. We will eventually all learn the lesson that money does not buy happiness, although it may sometimes seem that way. My wish for all of you is that you find your happiness in whatever you do. And, echoing the sediment of Mr. Hegedus, when you find that happiness, do whatever that is, to the best of your ability. If we can do this, then our time here will not have been wasted. We will find the success that brings meaning to each of our lives and in our hearts we can truly be proud to say we are tigers. Thank you and good luck. 8

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Rah-mel Neal-Means, Senior Class President

McKeesport Area

Today we should be proud of ourselves. Some may have doubted us, but believe it or not we made it. All of those hard and stressful times we’re meant for this moment, right here, right now. None of us could have made it to this point if it hadn’t been for the love and support of our parents and family. I stand before you, proud and blessed to say Mom, I know it’s been rough but because of you, I made it and I love you. As many of you know I suffered a terrible tragedy this year in the loss of my father. As difficult a time as this was, I was astonished at the outpouring of love and support I received from my classmates and from the faculty here at Mckeesport High School. I realized that you are all more than classmates, teachers, and principals. You are family, and family sticks together in good times and in bad. And now I would like to recognize a few specific people. My fellow graduates – thank you for always supporting each other. Mr. Jenny, thank you for cutting our senior debts in half. Dr. Skezas and Mrs. Wanzo, thank you for your love and support, and last but not least, thank you Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Murphy and Mrs. Tomich for helping me to believe in myself and inspiring me to reach new heights. I’m sure that each graduate out there has special friends, family, inspirational teachers and administrators that have helped and supported you along your journey. We owe them all a debt of gratitude. Thank you for pushing us and for believing in us. Mrs. Kirby once said, “Never give up on trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration you can not go wrong.” It is time for us to pass the torch of leadership to the underclassmen. This is the beginning of the beginning. The time has come to take control of our own lives, to be self-motivated and to achieve our dreams. We’re adults now, and entering the real world isn’t going to be easy. To accomplish great things, we must not only dream, but act – not only believe but also plan. Tough times will never break Mckeesport. We are Tigers – we’re tough, we’re strong, we’re survivors. Thank you, and I love you.

Class of 2011

mckeesport area high school Melissa Druskin, Valedictorian Commencement Speech – June 8, 2011

Class of 2011, congratulations on your years of hard work that have gotten you to this point today. Four years ago, at our eighth grade graduation, I stood before you and delivered a speech that attempted to bid farewell, while instilling your minds with inspiration for success in the years of high school that were ahead of us. Now, four years later, I am attempting to deliver words with the same motive in mind: To close a chapter of life, and to inspire and motivate you to achieve success in all your future endeavors. Despite the fact that we all must wear identical caps and gowns, there is no doubt that it is our individuality that has made us the people we are today. From the first day of ninth grade, our character and determination have molded us into the young adults who can now be referred to as “high school graduates”, a title that seems to create a bittersweet feeling. It makes us realize that many of the simple joys experienced everyday in school are never going to exist again. Whether it was performing at the school musical, playing under the Friday night lights, or simply spending class time with someone who has had the same schedule as

you every year, it is evident that these lifestyles end with the end of high school. We have all heard the saying, “high school is the best time of your life.” Looking back at the past four years, it seems like that now, but we must realize we have many years ahead of us to experience new things, meet new people, and create new memories. An anonymous author once said, “There are things that we never want to let go of and people we never want to leave behind. But keep in mind that letting go isn’t the end of the world, it’s the beginning of a new life.” It is important to remember that school has been just one aspect of our lives. We must continue on and set new goals. Author Henry David Thoreau wrote, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.” The goals we have set in high school symbolize our castles. It is our job to now build upon them in order to achieve the success for which we yearn. Whether this entails going to college or working at a family business, effort must be put forth to add foundation to our castles in the sky. I am confident that each and every one of you possesses the potential to build legendary castles. At this time, I would like to thank the administrators, faculty, friends, and most importantly family for providing us with the knowledge and motivation to acquire the opportunity to close this chapter of our lives and move forward to the next. And to my fellow graduates, I would like to once again say congratulations. I am sincerely proud and honored to be among you, an amazing group of people, that make up the McKeesport High School graduating class of 2011.

Ethan Kisan Commencement Statement – June 8, 2011 In a few moments we will be graduating and our lives will change forever. This is the time where we will transition from pupil to graduate, from student to alumni. No longer will we be protected by these four walls, but the spirits of what we gained here will always remain. Friends lets not lie to ourselves the future will not come easy, but never give up on your dreams or your ambitions. These last four years have prepared us for this moment, whether it be because of a special teacher or coach, our hard work and dedication, or because of the friendships we have formed. No matter where

our lives take us, we will always remember our high school years fondly and cherish them with pride. Here we stand at the top of a mountain. A mountain of hard work, dedication and bounties creativity. And now that we are here we must ask ourselves what is next. Nelson Mandela once said “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” So as we begin our journey up the next hill let us always hold true to our roots. MAHS Class of 2011 forever! Good luck seniors and Congratulations!

Good luck seniors and Congratulations! McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 9


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You’re never too young to help someone in need, and certainly Jonna Flannery’s preschool class at McKeesport Senior High School is proof of that.

Trike-A-Thon On the afternoon of April 7, the preschool’s 4- and 5-yearolds “rode their little hearts out until they were sweaty and could ride no more,” Flannery explained. When they were through, the tiny bikers had raised an amazing $684 for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in a Trike-A-Thon. The preschoolers received pledges for each lap they made on their bikes or scooters. Flannery, a teacher at the high school, is director of the child care program which trains high school students for a career in child care. The preschool is used as a learning laboratory. She had participated in a Trike-A-Thon about 10 years ago, she said, and was contacted by St. Jude’s to see if she’d be willing to do so again this year. Parents received a packet of information about the event and to familiarize them with St. Jude’s mission. There were also stories they could read to their children. In addition to raising funds through the Trike-A-Thon, the preschoolers learned about bicycle safety, the importance of wearing helmets and riding on the sidewalk. On the morning of the event, parents brought their children’s “wheels” to school, and the students went up the hall and out the back door to the school’s courtyard. The preschool class’s theme for the week of the Trike-A-Thon was “Community Helpers.” Flannery said during this week the children learned the importance of being a good helper. Trike-A-Thon participants were assisted by high school students who are part of the child care program. The preschoolers rode about a half-hour, taking breaks in between laps. “They’d do so many laps and take a break and get some water and get right back on their little bicycles,” Flannery said. 10

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McKeesport Area

McKeesport Area School District

Happenings McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 11


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F if th G raders and K indergarten S tu dents

W ork T ogether U s ing

D r. S eu s s

At the beginning of the school year at Centennial Elementary, fifth grade teacher Beth Gumbert and kindergarten teacher Trina King knew they wanted to do a joint project involving their respective classrooms. They just didn’t know what. Eventually, they found the perfect vehicle using a Dr. Seuss book, “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back,” and teaching strategies Gumbert was learning via the Penn Literacy Network (although King had done the project before). “I wanted to share these strategies with the district,” Gumbert said. Both teachers prepared their students for the project which paired two fifth grade students with three kindergarten students for a week of interactive education that included reading, thinking, and writing essays. “We taught the fifth graders how to handle the kindergarten students,” King said. That included teaching the older students how to stifle their natural desire to want to give the younger students answers instead of helping them to discern the answers for themselves. The fifth graders also prepared by reading the story and becoming familiar with it so they could read it aloud to their younger counterparts. “They were all engaged and all focused,” King said of the time the students spent


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McKeesport Area

working together. During the week of the project, there were about 50 students in King’s kindergarten classroom. She said her kindergarten students “felt so special, they were on their best behavior.” And so were the fifth graders, she added. The project created an opportunity for students in both grades to bond with each other. “When they see each other in the halls, they smile or wave,” King said. During the week, fifth grade students worked on generating questions using higher order thinking and discussing details using visual imagery, while kindergarten students learned to recap the story in their minds, preparing rough and final essay drafts. On the fourth day of the project, students read their essays from an “author’s chair” designed by the teachers. “The whole room was so patient,” Gumbert said. On the last day of the project, the superintendent and assistant superintendent visited the classroom for an ice cream social. But not before the kindergarten students had one last work-related task. They were given a sheet that contained directions for making an ice cream cone figure. However, the directions were out of sequence and it was the students’ job to put them in the right order to make a “Cat in the Hat” snack. “I think one of the main goals for us was the collaboration with younger students,” Gumbert said. “They learned more than I thought. It was like a life lesson, too. I think helping out other people, building a sense of community was a key part of it.”

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P atients


You’ll probably have even better luck if you gather up those pennies and donate them to a worthy cause just like the students at George Washington Elementary in McKeesport. Students there participated in “Pennies for Patients” with a two-week penny drive in February to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The money collected is spent toward patient and community services, public health and professional education.


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In 2002, the students at the school were involved in a drive that raised $800. When contacted by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society this year, the school decided to undertake that effort again, said school counselor Cory Kunicky.

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. One first grader brought in her piggy bank,” Kunicky recalled. A letter was sent home to parents explaining the drive and asking students to check the couches, chairs and the ground for loose change.

The classroom that brought in the most money would win a party from the Olive Garden.

During the second week of the drive, there were special days such as red and blue

“We had a kickoff assembly with representatives from the

McKeesport Area

day during which students could donate a penny to wear red and blue, the school district colors. On jersey day they could donate a nickel to wear their favorite jersey. Students could ante up a dime on pajama day, a quarter on hat day, and $1 to chew gum in school on a designated day. The two-week drive raised a total of $1,109, with Karen Kittle’s class bringing the top donation of $117.34. Her students enjoyed their party of breadsticks, salads and three different varieties of pasta. “The waitresses came and served them; it was really, really sweet,” Kunicky said. She believes one of the biggest strengths of the elementary school students at George Washington is their willingness

to help others when given the chance. She cited a recent visit by WPXI-TV Chief Meteorologist Julie Bologna, who collects canned goods during her visits to schools. Kunicky said her students had the second highest amount of canned goods collected.

“See a penny, pick it up; all day long you’ll have good luck.” “It’s just impressive how they give to others,” Kunicky said. “I think they empathize with people in need.”

McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 15


   


McKeesport Area High School Prom was held Thursday, May 26, 2011 beginning with the promenade at 5:30 pm in front of the high school. Prom guests posed for pictures on a stage at the high school's main entrance. They then proceeded in the direction of the stadium and around the circle. Students embarked from McKeesport Area High School and traveled to the Sheraton Station Square. The After-Prom was hosted on the Gateway Clipper Majestic.


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McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 17


   


Administration Office 3590 O’Neil Boulevard McKeesport, PA 15132 Office: 412.664.3600 Fax: 412.664.3638 Superintendent: Dr. Timothy Gabauer

Centennial 1601 Beaver Street McKeesport, PA 15132 Office: 412.664.3750 Fax: 412.664.3756 Principal: Ms. Staci Fitzpatrick

BUILDING UPDATES Francis McClure Elementary/Intermediate Site Francis McClure is underway and is on schedule. The district meets every week to get updates on the project and expects the building to be open in August of 2011. The building will additionally serve the entire district’s fifth and sixth grade temporarily. Cornell Elementary/Intermediate Site Cornell is currently in the property acquisition stage for some of the last properties that border the new school. The district is out to bid on the project and construction should start within the next few months. If everything stays on schedule, the building is expected to be open in January 2013.

Founders’ Hall 3600 O’Neil Boulevard McKeesport, PA 15132 Office: 412.664.3690 Fax: 412.664.3768 Principal: Dr. Karen Chapman

New McKeesport Elementary/Intermediate Site The property is currently in the acquisition stages. The district is looking at the terrain and discussing placement at the building. According to schedule, the building should be open in January of 2014.


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McKeesport Area High School and Technology Center 1960 Eden Park Boulevard McKeesport, PA 15132 Office: 412.664.3650 Fax: 412.664.3787 Head Principal of Academics: Mr. Mark Holtzman Director of Career and Technology Center: Mrs. Patricia Scales

George Washington 1818 Sumac Street McKeesport, PA 15132 Office: 412.664.3770 Fax: 412.664.3777 Principal: Mr. Paul Sweda

White Oak Elementary 1415 California Avenue White Oak, PA 15131 Office: 412.664.3790 Fax: 412.664.3794 Principal: Dr. Tamara Sanders-Woods

Francis McClure Intermediate School 500 Longvue Drive White Oak, PA 15131 Office: 412.664.3740 Fax: 412.664.3747 Principals: Mr. Anthony DeMaro Ms. Pamela Gordon Principal of Cyber School/ District Technology Integration: Dr. Jane Coughenour

McKeesport Area

McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 19

Mckeesport Military Heroes My husband is CTR1 (AW/SW) Patrick Sherlock of the United States Navy. He is attached to the forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex LHD 2 stationed in Sasebo, Japan. He is the son of Cheryl and Pat Sherlock, step father Tony Fonzi and son-in-law of Mira Bascovsky and Carl Moller. CTR1 Sherlock has two sons, Tyson (age 5) and Emmitt (age 4). He has been in the Navy for five years. Last year he reenlisted for another tour. He has completed in the Cobra Gold exercise outside of Thailand. Exercise Baliktan with the Philippines. During summer 2009 participated with Australia during the Talisman Saber Exercise. In 2011 has conducted missions in Malaysia and Cambodia. His ship is currently participating in the Operation Tomodachi providing aid and relief to Japan after the tsunami and earthquake happening March 2011. While out to sea in a matter of a year’s time he received both pins available to one when stationed to a ship. Those pins are in (AW) Air Warfare and (SW) Surface Warfare. He has advanced in rank and is an exceptional role model to the Sailors he leads. Along with his professional accomplishments while deployed he has completed an associate's degree in Political Science. We are very proud of him and wish him the best of luck while helping to aid Japan. Go Iron Gator, Go Navy! With love, your wife, Laura Sherlock

A promotion ceremony took place for Master Sgt. Sandra Adams-Jones, 372nd Military Police Battalion on the D.C. National Guard Armory drill floor. Adams-Jones joined the U.S. Army Reserves in 1982 and the D.C. Army National Guard in 1988. She has had many assignments through the DCANG as well as being deployed in support of operation Noble Eagle at the Pentagon, 2002-03, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 2003-04. Adams-Jones has also received many awards including the Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal. Adams-Jones is attaining her second master’s degree in the master of public administration program at Walden University. She is the daughter of Katherine C. Adams of McKeesport and Thomas L. Adams of Rankin. Submitted by Deanna Lee Adams, sister, Katherine C. Adams, mother, and Thomas L. Adams, father.

Do you know someone who is serving in the armed forces from the McKeesport area? We would like to honor their commitment by featuring them in this magazine. Please forward your name, the soldier’s name and where the/she is are serving, along with a photo to Help us recognize these fine men and women!


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Mayor’s Corner REGIS T. MCLAUGHLIN “It was the best of times . . . . it was the worst of times” A TALE OF TWO CITIES - CHARLES DICKENS

“The privatization of State Liquor Stores,” . . . “Education cuts,”. . . “continuing budget resolutions”, . . . “President Obama forms Commission on Medicare reform,”. . . – THE MEDIA HAS BEEN REPLETE WITH HEADLINES AND STORIES ON THE MANAGEMENT OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR FROM HARRISBURG TO WASHINGTON D C.

As your Mayor, I think it is important to report on the factors that directly impact upon your dayto-day government in McKeesport. First, I need to tell you that these State and Federal budgeting decisions directly affect our City, as well. Nevertheless, as Mayor I will continue to work with the Department Heads and the Administration to manage the city’s finances while providing open dialogue to City Council and the citizens so that there will be NO increase in real estate taxes proposed for 2012. Secondly, the City will be business friendly working as a catalyst for new business formation and jobs for the Valley - i.e. the new grocery store being developed at Eden Park/Walnut Street - as well as for business expansion like the re-purchase of Camp Hill by USS, the location of EQT (Equitable Gas) on the former mill site and the renovations to Eat ‘n Park Restaurant. Third, albeit state/federal monies are “at risk”, as a result of creative funding solutions by Community Development Director Bethany Bauer, McKeesport will continue to eradicate blighted structures and be a conduit in the neighborhoods for new residential opportunities and continued reinvestment by existing homeowners.

“There will be no real estate tax increase in 2012”

In order to help you appreciate the challenge(s) facing McKeesport for 2011 and beyond, let’s take a moment to revisit some statistics. The City of McKeesport budget for calendar 2011 is approximately $ 20 million. Of that amount nearly 25% - over $4.25 million - is dedicated to police services and another 10% - $2 million - to the fire department. What does this mean? If the City collects all of its real estate taxes (commercial/industrial/residential) it would “only” pay for the operation of the fire department. If the City collected all its earned income taxes and all of its municipal service fees (the latter helps pay for garbage collection, street lights, snow removal, as well as underwrite police and fire) that amount would “only” pay for the police budget. The street light bill alone, is over $500,000/year. The refuse collection is another $1 million per year. The following pie chart may better graphically depict the relationship of these sources and uses which they must support. These issues notwithstanding, our City continues to provide a plethora of services to the residents and performs a leadership role in the Mon Valley. As such, those amenities to which you have become accustomed like Renziehausen Park - it’s summer concert series, 4th of July, etc. (please see the article in this issue of IN MCKEESPORT), International Village; professional public safety: ambulance/fire/police, will continue to be a staple of our City’s environment. I look forward in the weeks and months ahead to working with you to articulate these issues that test our fiscal resolve, and subsequently develop implementation plans for the balance of 2011 and beyond that will judiciously utilize our most precious resource - the American tax payer! Together, “It will be a far, far better thing we do now than we have ever done before.” McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 29





SWEETWATER PONTOONS! Odds are if you know these words, you are among the thousands of folks in the region who enjoy piloting your own craft along one of the area’s many waterways. If you’re one of the people who dock your boat at McKees Point, the marina in McKeesport then perhaps you’ve seen a few of its newest editions, Pittsburgh Boat Sales and Miller’s Marine, which sells their own boat brand, Bayliner. The dealership is located at 500 Water Street, McKeesport, PA 15132. “It’s pretty much a family run business,” said Coleen Barney, one of the owners of the two boat dealerships. “We enjoy the boat community and the boating industry.” Pittsburgh Boat Sales, which opened in McKeesport last fall along with Miller’s Marine, sells new and used boats and boats on consignment. They also sell boat parts and accessories and service boats, too. The company had been servicing boats at the marina even before moving its dealerships there.”We had a relationship with the McKeesport Marina, where we were doing service and spoke with Ray Daugherty, marina manager, and he invited us to be on the premises with a dealership,” Barney explained. “This is a nice opportunity. They have the most beautiful, state of the art docks and we like working with Ray and his staff. We're happy to be near Pittsburgh.” Barney said Pittsburgh Boat Sales and Miller’s Marine had a big presence at this year’s Pittsburgh Boat Show. “Our boats were very popular,” she added. “We're looking forward to taking a prominent position in the boating market with our new dealership locations and McKeesport is a good place to do it.” Contact Pittsburgh Boat Sales: 412.896.6475


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McKeesport Gains New Fire Rescue Boat

The McKeesport Fire department has a brand new fire rescue boat. The addition of the 26-foot-long, 8 1/2-foot-wide boat will allow the department to patrol the rivers more easily. The former boat was purchased when the River Rescue Team was started in 1996 and was now obsolete. “Former Mayor Jim Brewster told us we could get a new rescue boat because our old one was in such bad shape” says Deputy Chief Chuck Margliotti, who had a hand in designing the new boat. “Once we figured out what our needs were, we were able to start looking around”.

of converting this power source into pumping 2000 gallons of water per minute for both river emergencies as well as water based support for shoreline fire fighting calls. In the case of river rescue, this multidisciplined asset is equipped with sides of the boat that fold down even with the water line so that victims and divers can easily slide into the boat Margliotti said.

“The boat took about seven months to build because the company Manufactures Each Boat

The boat also boasts an impressive electronic system. “The new lights and radios were not things we had in the old boat,“ he says. “The company specializes in making just these kinds of boats.” According to Margliotti, a learning curve is necessary with boats as highly unique as this one. “It will take substantial training,” he says.

Margliotti says the department As A Customized Order.” did a national search and found the California based company, Harbor The boat will patrol the area from the Guard Boats, Inc. from whom they chose to buy the boat. Braddock Lock up to the Elizabeth Lock and on the Youghiogheny River from McKeesport up to Little Boston. Margliotti says the boat took about seven months to build because the company manufactures each boat individually “We do anticipate doing something special, once we get the boat as a customized order. in the water, to give people an opportunity to see what it does,” says Margliotti. “Once the public observes the boat in operation they will The new boat is a state of the art water craft designed to mitigate really be able to appreciate how special it is.” both change in river depth and unpredictable currents. Instead of having propellers, it’s jet driven. It has twin engines and is capable

McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 31



the moniker change at an event held May 19 at the Courtyard Marriott at the Waterfront in West Homestead. Those in attendance included Richard Lattanzi, City of Clairton mayor; Betty Esper, Homestead mayor; Bob Macey, Allegheny County Council member; and Chris Kelly, West Mifflin mayor.

Robert Baum, a member of the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, greets Allegheny County Council Member Bob Macey

Looking to the future by going back to the past, the Regional Chamber Alliance has changed its name back to the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce. “We decided that we wanted to rename ourselves to clearly demark where our region is and what we do,” said the chamber’s president Maury Burgwin. The organization announced

Speaking before the big unveiling of the new logo were Michele Matuch, president of the Mon Yough Chamber Foundation (unrelated to the Chamber of Commerce), which presented the Chamber with a $2,500 check; Mark Urbassik, chairman of the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors; and special guest Jim Lokay, traffic and transportation reporter for KDKATV/Pittsburgh’s CW and Mon Valley native. Matuch said the money was to help defray the cost of the Chamber’s business development initiative and commended the Chamber and Burgwin for taking the first step forward in bringing the Mon Yough Area business community together. Urbassik thanked Burgwin for “his enthusiasm and tireless promotion

Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce President Maury Burgwin and Chairman of the Board Mark Urbassik unveil new logo.

of Mon Yough Area community businesses and individuals.” The Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce, which encompasses approximately 30 communities, has 370 companies as members with a membership database of about 482 names. That’s because some companies have several employees as members of the Chamber, Burgwin explained. “Ninety percent of our businesses are small, sort of mom and pop type businesses with five employees or less. Our marquee sponsors are UPMC, with 50,000 some employees, and Best Buy.” Burgwin, who took over as director of the Chamber last year, was given the task of growing the membership. He has 30 years of marketing experience, he said, six of those years working with the late John Connelly, owner of the Gateway Clipper Fleet and godfather of incentive marketing. Burgwin has been able to, within his brief time, increase the Chamber membership from 220 to 370, he said. Part of that growth is attributed to the Chamber’s acquisition of the Steel Valley Chamber of Commerce, a small chamber that basically covered Homestead, West Homestead and Munhall. “We’re thrilled to have them on board,” Burgwin said. “There are a lot of challenges going on in the Mon Valley with respect to a downturn in the general economy in 2008.” However, things are slowly starting to come back, he said, and the area is beginning


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McKeesport Area

Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce President Maury Burgwin with Executive Board members Howard Murphy, Lori Moffeo, Mark Urbassik, Robin Khorey and Marti Gastel.

Mon Yough Chamber Foundation President Michele Matuch

KDKA TV/CW Traffic and Transportation Reporter Jim Lokay

Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Mark Urbassik

to see some new businesses crop up. “For businesses within our membership base, some of them are starting to see some growth,” he added.

Marcellus Shale presents a very big opportunity for the Mon Valley and beyond. He would like to bring together the various political and economic development leaders from the local, state and federal levels to develop ways to market the Mon Valley and those companies that could be natural suppliers to Marcellus Shale.

working with various leaders in the area, City of McKeesport manager, Dennis Pittman being one of them,” Burgwin said. While he hasn’t met all the mayors and representatives of all the towns within the Chamber, it is something he plans to do.

One good economic indicator Burgwin sees is USX’s purchase of the Camp Hill Tube Company. “As to the specific reason why they’re doing that, I can only speculate, but I have a feeling it’s probably related to the potential with Marcellus Shale,” he said. Burgwin believes

“Obviously, these are issues that need team support and team cooperation, and I’ve been

Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce is located at 201 Lysle Boulevard, McKeesport, PA 15132; 412-678-2450.

McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 33




2011 Free Concert Series


July 2nd Long Run Rd Band July 3rd Mudsharks July 23rd Tim Scott Band July 30th Friends of Elvis August 6th Legacy Band August 13th Top Cats August 27th The Igniters

All start times are 8:00 p.m. Please call for information on all events. Schedule is subject to change. 34

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McKees Point Marina Café & Pizzeria 100 5th Ave McKeesport, PA 15132 412-678-6979

 McKeesport Recreation Department, headed by director Jim Brown in concert with The Allegheny County Regional Asset District (ARAD), works diligently to develop programs and events held throughout the year. The following is the Summer 2011 lineup of events, all of which will be held at Renziehausen Park.






McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 35




Officer Computers, cellphones, the Internet – all technological achievements that have changed how we work and play. Unfortunately, for the criminalminded, it also has changed the way crimes are committed.

“Police work is gearing up toward the technology aspect of crime,” Mihalko said. Technology can be used to commit crime, to plan crime…you have to be able to look at and have that evidence.”

Police departments, large and small, have to keep up with the various ways criminals are using high technology to carry out ill deeds.

In addition to being trained by the state police, Mihalko has also received training from the National White Collar Crimes Center in nearby Morgantown, WV. “People all across the country come to train there,” he said. He is also scheduled to undergo training at the National Computer Forensic Institute in Birmingham, Ala. “It’s just confirming and updating and expanding my skill set as far as computer investigation,” Mihalko said.

In the McKeesport Police Department, Officer Mike Mihalko is the man who helps solve these kinds of cases. And here’s a clue – it can’t really be done in an hour as it is on CSI. “My primary duty is investigating high-tech and computer crimes,” said Mihalko, a 40-year-old plainclothes officer assigned to the Detective Bureau. He’s also on the Pennsylvania State Police Task Force. While the majority of Mihalko’s cases are in McKeesport, his affiliation with the task force allows him to assist the state in investigations and vice versa. People use technology for all kinds of nefarious purposes and while much media attention is paid to the use of the Internet by child predators, Mihalko also looks into other kinds of crimes including Internet fraud, assaults and arsons, etc. The last two may sound like old-school offenses, but factor in the use of technology and they fall into Mihalko’s territory. For example, if someone committed arson and a cellphone was used to record video of the crime, that’s a case he would investigate because it would call for the phone to be examined and for the video to be extracted from the phone. The user of the phone would have to be determined in addition to what phone calls were made before and after the crime.


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Police work is part of Mihalko’s heritage. His father and grandfather were police officers in Port Vue. His uncle, Charles “Tomo” Tomovcsik, was a police officer in McKeesport. Mihalko served in the Marines for four years. Afterwards, he did various jobs until he enrolled in the police academy. Working full time and attending the academy, he graduated in November 2004. By April 2005, he was hired by the McKeesport Police Department. Initially, there was a civilian employee handling the computer department. Mihalko, who had some technology background already, would help out occasionally. When that employee left, he was asked to take over the department. He is considering going back to school at Duquesne University. “The technological aspects of criminal activity are really just coming to light, as time goes on,” Mihalko said.

Equitable Gas

Open House work out of this facility are involved in maintaining the gas system and general distribution. Equitable purchased the building from Huckestein Mechanical Services.

Equitable Gas Co. held an open house for its new McKeesport Regional B headquarters on May 3.

As part of the open house, a meeting room in the building was dedicated to Paul J. Ei, III, an Equitable Gas employee who passed away in May 2010. “Never a negative or unkind word came out of his mouth and he would do anything for anybody,” said Karen Skovran, director of operations field customer service. “Unless possibly during March Madness,” she joked about her co-worker, who was a huge University of Pittsburgh

Company representatives, including Equitable’s executive vice president, William Lucas, and representatives of McKeesport, including Mayor Regis T. McLaughlin and city administrator Dennis Pittman, and Mon Yough Area Chamber president Maury Burgwin were on hand. “We have a long rich history with McKeesport,” Lucas said. “We’re thrilled to be here and plan to be here for a very long time.” The facility, located at 261 Center Street in the city’s industrial park, is 32,500 square feet, 10,000 of which is office space and the remaining 22,500 square feet is warehouse space. It houses the regional operation for McKeesport and the surrounding area. Employees who

basketball fan. Present for the dedication were Mr. Ei’s mother, Lorraine Hays; her friend, Jack Wolfe; uncle and godfather Ron Hays; aunt Delores O’Hara, and fiancée Lynn Sofranko.

McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 37

Serving the Mon 

Serving The Mon Valley City of McKeesport

White Oak Borough

Borough of Dravosburg

500 Fifth Avenue McKeesport, PA 15132 412.675.5020 Fax: 412.675.5049 Mayor: Regis McLaughlin

2280 Lincoln Way White Oak, PA 15131 412.672.9727 Fax: 412.672.0760 Mayor: Ina Jean Marton Borough Manager: John W. Petro, Jr. 412.672.9727

226 Maple Avenue Dravosburg, PA 15034 412.466.5200 Fax: 412.466.6027 Mayor: John Powell

Council: Michael Cherepko Richard J. Dellapenna Lorretta Diggs Dale McCall Darryl Segina Alfred Tedesco Jr. V. Fawn Walker

Council: Edward Babyak Charles Davis George Dillinger Ronald Massung David Pasternak Kenneth Robb Carrie Verbanick

Police Non Emergency Phone: 412.675.5050

Police Non Emergency Phone: 412.672.9727

Fire Department McKeesport Fire Fighters P.O. Box 15134 412.675.5021 or 412.675.5070

Fire Departments Rainbow Volunteer Fire Company 2916 Jacks Run Road White Oak, PA 15131 412.664.9523

McKeesport Ambulance Rescue Service (MARS)

Council: Jay McKelvey Michelle Vezzani William Snodgrass, Jr. Barbara Stevenson Greg Wilson South Versailles Township P.O. Box 66 Coulter, PA 15028 Township Secretary: Carla Barron Treasurer: Carol Haines Board of Commissioners: John Warabak William Haywood Edward Kulasa, Jr. Terry Payne David Stockett Versailles Borough

Edwin Coulter, Chairman, McKeesport Ambulance Authority & Emergency Management Coordinator Emergency Phone: 911 Non Emergency Phone: 412.675.5076


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White Oak No. 1 Fire Company 1130 California Ave. White Oak, PA 15131 412.664.4822 White Oak EMS 2800 State Street White Oak, PA 15131 Emergency Phone: 911 Non-Emergency Phone: 412.672.3055

McKeesport Area

5100 Walnut Street McKeesport, PA 15132 412.751.3922 Fax: 412.751.4430 Mayor James Fleckenstein Joel Yeckel James Sheedy Cheryl D’Antonio Frank Bunda Anita Gricar


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McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 39


 Richard Nixon was held in McKeesport at the Penn McKee Hotel on April 22, 1947, when both were freshmen members of Congress, and that George Washington was the first person to document traveling through the area that would later become the City of McKeesport, while on a diplomatic trip in 1753. In 2007, volunteers from the Heritage Center did an “Images of America” book for McKeesport, published by Arcadia Publishing. It must have been a hit because they were asked to do another book. “We said, ‘Yes we have all these postcards; we’d like to do a postcard book,’” Wardle said, recalling the exchange. So, Wardle and Heritage Center board member John Barna, a former photographer for McKeesport Daily News and historian, co-authored a book of postcards from McKeesport, as part of Arcadia’s vintage postcard history series. The McKeesport Heritage Center has been in existence for 30 years, 20 of them in its Renzie Park location, which houses the first oneroom school house in McKeesport, built in 1832. “We hold a number of programs throughout the year and they’re always open to the public,” said the center’s director Michelle Wardle. “We participate in the International village and the Festival of Trees, so we’re out there, but people are still just learning about us.” A native of Schenectady, NY, Wardle said she’s learned lot since taking a post with the Heritage Center. Among the things she learned is that the first public debate held between John F. Kennedy and


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McKeesport Area

“We started working on it back in September of 2010, and we completed our draft in March 2011,” Wardle said. “At the moment we’re waiting for proofs to come back.” The focus of the book is McKeesport from about 1890 to the late 1930s. “It’s reprints of 216 postcards of either the City of McKeesport or some of the surrounding parks, like Olympia Park and Rainbow Gardens.”

While the parks are not in McKeesport, the city’s residents visited these parks and that’s why they were included, Wardle explained. Half of the postcards were ones that had been donated to the Heritage Center over the years and the other half are on loan from people’s private collections. Only the fronts of the cards are reprinted. The Heritage Center holds various program throughout the year. On June 18, there was a program on how trolleys were used during WWII featuring speaker George Gula of the Western

     Pennsylvania Trolley Museum. Local folklore, including information on Dead Man’s Hollow, will be the subject of the July 16 program with speaker Thomas White. On August 13, the topic will be local historic amateur baseball and football teams with speaker Walter Patton, and on October 13, Wardle and Barna will do a founder’s program on McKeesport vintage postcards in connection with the book. All programs take place at the Heritage Center. For more information on the center, visit

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House It is difficult to imagine that a place as peaceful as the park-environs of The Muse House, with its lush trees and colorful flowers, could have once been the scene of a historic attack. But it was.

Loretta Clark in gazebo at Angora Gardens

The tranquil, two-story 19th century farmhouse on Muse Lane, now part of Angora Gardens, a program that provides mental health therapy and services, sits on property that was once the location of a blockhouse built by the U.S. Government in 1783 to protect settlers from attack by Native Americans. Adam Reburn was put in charge of the station and five years later, he purchased the property, which included 200 acres of land. It was named “Galilee” by the patent office. As the story goes, in 1792, two of Reburn’s daughters and a hired hand, Robert Couzins, were out in the cornfields cutting corn when a group of Indians attacked. The daughters were closer to the blockhouse and escaped, but Couzins was killed, and according to the history of the place, he was the last white man killed in this part of the country. The Native Americans retreated after Reburn sounded a conch shell alarm, which brought scores of neighbors. Anthony Rollins, who purchased the property after Reburn, built a barn and a cabin on it. The road now called Muse Lane, was previously Rollins Road, which was traveled by George Washington and General Braddock on their way to Braddock’s Field.

Fort Reburn Sign at Muse House, Angora


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Loretta Clark, a former employee of Angora Gardens, used to conduct tours of the historic property, citing stories about the place that was eventually purchased by John J. Muse and came to be known as “Galilee Farm.” Muse’s father was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and his grandfather was a friend of George Washington’s. Muse, who was active in politics, served as the treasurer for Allegheny County. He built the house that sits on the property today, calling it “Colonial Mansion With White Shutters.” John J. Muse planted all kinds of fruit trees, including apple, peach, pear and plum. Pine trees were planted, also.

McKeesport Area

“The Muses bought the property and lived in the house, and there was known to be an Underground Railroad Station here,” Clark said. She explained that in some instances, a quilt would be hung in front of a house indicating whether it was safe for escaping slaves to stop there. Clark said someone had come to examine the home to try to verify its use as part of the Underground Railroad. “He said the way the ground is and the way the house is, there’s an opening.” The opening might indicate a place where slaves would be hidden.

“The Muses bought the property and lived in the house, and there was known to be an Underground Railroad Station here,” Clark said. John J. Muse’s son, John Muse, lived on the property most of his life, having moved there at the age of five when his father bought it in 1832. John Muse became known as one of the best farmers in Western Pennsylvania. He passed away in 1910 at the age of 77. In 1972, the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a marker on the property to commemorate its one-time use as a block house also known as Fort Reburn. In 1968, the property became part of the Allegheny County Parks System. It is located in White Oak Park. Angora Gardens got its name because when the mental health program began in 1988, it involved raising Angora rabbits. Today, the rabbits are gone, but participants in the program tend to the gardens and the plants and flowers in the greenhouse. The property also has a pond. The Muse House is on the Pittsburgh History and Landmark Foundations list of historic places.

Greenhouse at Angora Gardens

McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 43


Neighborhood Initiative The organization, which is an offshoot of the now-defunct Housing Opportunity, Inc., received a $1.4 million grant from Pennsylvania Housing Finance to do several projects. The first was to renovate an old house at 1608 Jenny Lind Street, turning it into three large, two-bedroom apartments. The second project was building 10 new homes; three of the homes are located on the corners of Jenny Lind and Union streets, four more new homes are on Coursin Street and three on Grant Street. To bring the dream of home ownership to fruition, the organization has teamed up with other groups including the McKeesport Housing Corporation, Pennsylvania Housing Finance, Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. “We built a neighborhood is what we did,” said Lani Temple, executive director of the McKeesport Neighborhood Initiative. “This is a very exciting program because MNI didn’t just build any home. All of these houses have been built with buyers. We don’t build on speculation. We only build with buyers.”

Home ownership has always been a part of the American Dream and the McKeesport Neighborhood Initiative (MNI) is an organization that is helping to make that dream come true for some fortunate families in McKeesport.


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McKeesport Area

The buyers are low-to-moderate income families and Temple is quick to point out that her organization is not a give away program. “Everyone has a mortgage,” she said. And everyone must have a job, unless they receive disability benefits. Buyers are able to receive $50,000 in grants from Pennsylvania Housing Finance; $25,000 from CHDO and $10,000 through the Federal Home Loan Bank toward the cost of the home. They must make a down payment of $500 and sign a 30-year mortgage. All of the prospective buyers receive credit counseling through the McKeesport Neighborhood Initiative’s partnership with Advantage Consumer Credit. Cost for participants is $40. “We have had zero failure rates,” Temple said. “None of our buyers have had foreclosure problems. They did credit counseling and home buyers classes so they were very aware of what home ownership requires, so they never felt they were set up to fail.”

Just like any other home buyer, buyers who purchase their homes through MNI’s program, have a say in what’s included in the home, albeit with some restrictions. Buyers in this program have a budget and are advised that if they select something that goes over the budget, they will have to pay the increase in the cost of the house. “The other thing I love about this program is that they have a choice of homes,” Temple said. “They, actually, are able to choose their style of house and then they get to choose what’s inside their house. It’s not something that someone built for you and you had to take it, it’s your home.” It has not been an easy task to bring all this about and Temple credits the organization’s all-volunteer 10-member board for its tenacity in getting things accomplished. “It’s been tough but my board has just stuck through it,” Temple said. “I think there’s a fallacy that everybody should have a house. Not everybody should have a house, some people should rent because some people don’t want the responsibility of home ownership.” When she became executive director six years ago, Temple said she had her share of naysayers. “I had people that said, ‘Why don’t you give the money back because you’re not going to do it.’” However, the neighborhood that McKeesport Neighborhood Initiative has helped to create has been well worth the efforts, she said. “Everybody watches out for each other, crime has decreased. It’s been wonderful to see. The area looks nice and the kids are happy.”

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Even after families have moved in, Temple stays in touch, calling to see how things are going or if they need any help. She said she has gotten invited to family cookouts and neighborhood functions. “It’s fun to see when you give people a chance, what they do and what they can become,” she said.

McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 45


Garden Club more than 20 years. “I enjoy the gardens and the camaraderie,” she said. Also out in the garden was Frank DelDuca. “I like all the people down here,” he said. “I enjoy being outside.” Club member Bill Mays, who has about 100 roses at home, still finds time to prune the Gold Medal roses in the club’s garden. “People go to spas and sweat; they should come out here. It’s better than going on a treadmill,” he said. Zalac, who is in her first year as president, has been a member of the club since 2006. “I used to ride past here every day and see all these beautiful flowers. I thought, ‘When I retire this is what I’ll do,’” she recalled. The property also boasts a lovely gazebo, often used for weddings, a pond and an herb garden. The Garden Club of McKeesport began in 1936 as a way for the wives of well-off professional men to get together.

“It started as hat and white glove ladies,” explained club president Fran Zalac. “You had to be voted in.” Since that time, however, “it has evolved into something very different and very, very rewarding,” she added. While members still sport gloves, they are definitely not white. They are more of the garden variety—as in gardening gloves, stained by dirt and grass. But you can’t have the exquisite roses and the heavenly smell that emanates from the club’s award-winning rose garden and arboretum on Pin Oak Drive in Renzie Park without a little dirt and a lot of backbreaking work. On a recent scorcher of a Wednesday morning, garden club members (average age: 75) were pruning, weeding away among the rows of white, pink, red, and yellow roses planted on three of the six acres of land the club leases from the City of McKeesport. One of those working on that day was Grace Krepps, a former club president who’s been a member for 46

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It may be called the McKeesport Garden Club, but members are from a variety of communities including Green Tree, Elizabeth Township, North Huntingdon, West Mifflin, White Oak, Whitehall, Pittsburgh and Sutersville, to name a few. Members meet 10 months out of the year. The club has a two-story building on the grounds with a nice porch to escape to when the sun is beating down. “In December we work with McKeesport Festival of Trees. We have a sale here in conjunction with the festival,” said

(second only to the one in Hershey, Pa.). The club is affiliated with the National Garden Club, Inc., the Pittsburgh Rose Society, and the Confederation of McKeesport District Women’s Club, and is celebrating its 75th year as an affiliate of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania. club member Jane Miller. The Festival of Trees is a contest in which different organizations decorate Christmas trees. The garden club sells wreaths and other crafts made by the members. “We press our own mini roses and put them in arrangements,” Miller said.

The Garden Club of McKeesport Rose Garden and Arboretum is open to the public daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., April through October. Club members meet at the garden every Wednesday morning from 9 a.m. to around 2 p.m. On August 27, the club will hold its annual Flower Show at the McKeesport Heritage Center, next to the club’s rose garden. For more information about the McKeesport Garden Club, visit

On the second floor of club headquarters, members make framed pressed flowers, floral arrangements and sundry other crafts to sell, with the proceeds going to the club – which also holds four teas a year. Club facilities are available to rent for small gatherings such as weddings and baby showers. The McKeesport Symphony meets there as well. There are currently 43 members in the garden club, and while they’d be glad to have more, what they really need is volunteers, Zalac said, adding that members can show volunteers how to grow roses and how to make all the wonderful crafts. In 2010, the Garden Club of McKeesport was selected as one of the top 10 gardens in the country in America’s Best Rose Garden Contest held by the All-American Rose Selection Organization. The club, with more than 2,000 roses, has the second largest rose garden in Pennsylvania

McKeesport Area | Summer 2011 | 47


International Village McKeesport’s International Village is in its 52nd year and for more than 40 of those years, the Free Hungarian Reformed Church of McKeesport has been a part of it. It doesn’t hurt that the church is located at 101 University Drive, across the street from the festival’s Renzie Park location.“Our church has been participating for 47 years, so this is something we consider a fixture on our calendar,” said the church’s pastor Rev. Dr. Daniel J. Borsay. “We always look forward to participating. We have many people that expect us to be there.” After so many years, what would the festival be without the contributions of this church which was established in McKeesport in 1922 as a kind of mission to the Hungarian community, Pastor Borsay said. “But it has grown beyond its beginnings and we are open to all people.” The festival, however, gives the church and festival goers an opportunity to celebrate its roots with traditional Hungarian foods such as Kolbász Szendvics: Hungarian sausage on rye bread served with or without sauerkraut; Töltött Káposzta: Stuffed cabbage (ground beef and rice mixture) served with rye bread; Káposztás Kocka: Cabbage and noodles (can be topped with salt or sugar, never both); Zsiroskenyér: Greasy bread/bacon fry (we roast

high-quality pork fat rubbed with Hungarian paprika on a wood-fire then press the pork onto rye bread and cover it with fresh vegetables like cucumbers, green peppers, red onions, tomatoes. Sometimes called a “szalona sütés,” Paprikás Csirke Nokedlivel: Chicken paprikash with dumplings.

Pastries include: Palascinta: Hungarian crepes with sweetened cottage cheese or apricot filling, served with or without powdered sugar; Csöröge: Fried breadlike dough in diamond shapes served with powdered sugar; Beigli (Mákos, Diós És Barack Lekváros): Long rolls (poppyseed, walnut, or apricot filling); Rácsos Tészta (Ananász És Barack Lekváros): Triple deckers (in pineapple with walnut or apricot with walnut); Kifli (Diós És Barack Lekváros): Kiffles or cold dough cookies in walnut or apricot. There are also Thumbprints with various color frosting and Tassies (made with brown sugar syrup, walnut, and coconut), Butter-cream or apricot fluff pastries (made with light-as-air filo dough), and home-made apple squares. The church sells all this deliciousness in its air-conditioned social hall and from a booth in the village. “It’s the Women’s Guild, the women of the church, who work so hard to prepare all


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these foods. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun because everybody comes and everybody cooperates together,” Pastor Borsay said. Baking begins in late June, early July, but the other foods are prepared fresh that week. “We have a very nice social hall and we’re able to have the ladies here and they are able to work basically around the clock,” Pastor Borsay said. Food is not the only Hungarian offering at the festival; the William Penn Association Magyar Folk Dancers perform on Tuesday and Thursday nights during the event. For those who don’t know the language, Magyar means Hungarian in Hungarian, explained Pastor Borsay. He said the festival is “something that reminds us of our heritage and reminds us all of our roots and where we came from,” the pastor said. “But it’s also a very special opportunity for the church to come together and to share in the fact that we enjoy the bounty of this great land.” This year’s McKeesport International Village takes places August 16 through August 18, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information about the Free Hungarian Reformed Church of McKeesport, visit

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