Daily Archive: June 23, 2010

Metro

State of Emergency: 6 dead, 3 wounded in 8 days in McKeesport

Only 29 years old, My­lisha Jackson has experienced enough grief to last a lifetime. For her and many others living in McKeesport, the summer months are not a warm and fuzzy time, but a season when the homicide rate rises in the blink of the eye. IN CUSTODY—Suspect Deanthony Kirk is escorted to the Alle­gheny County police headquarters. “Every year it’s getting worse. I think it’s progressing; it’s just increasing. My family has experienced loss every year and most of them are unsolved,” Jackson said. “I place blame on everyone. I don’t think anyone’s doing their part.” In a span of eight days, from June 10 to June 18, there were five shooting incidents, including a Mc­Kees­port man shot in Wilkinsburg, leaving six dead and three more injured. Once again, Jackson was related to one of the victims. “I really don’t believe any of the recent acts have been random at all.

Metro

Mt. Ararat moving to Penn Hills…Still in early phases of building project

Almost three years after purchasing more than 50 acres of land in the Penn Hills area, the ground that is planned to be the new site for Mount Ararat Baptist Church continues to remain unbroken. Mount Ararat, one of the largest churches in the Pittsburgh and East Liberty area, continues to grow their congregation, and with several services on Sunday, a service Saturday night, Bible studies and other programs, promises that they will not abandon the community that has supported them. FUTURE SITE—The land on Universal Road and Main Street will be the future site of Mt. Ararat’s new church. “We are still in the preliminary phases of the building project. Even if we build a new worship facility in Penn Hills, we still plan on maintaining a strong presence in the East Liberty-Larimer community and neighborhoods,” said Rev. Benjamin Calvert, executive minister of the church and project spokesperson. “It will probably be two or three years before the new facility is built.”

Metro

Graduation balloon vendor denied access

When the first graduates of the new millennium attended commencement at Mellon Arena in 2000, Adrienne Lawson was there to wish them well. For a decade now, Lawson and her two sisters have continued the tradition, working as balloon vendors outside of Pittsburgh Public School District commencement ceremonies at the arena. SISTER SISTER—Ursula Lawson, left, joins her sister, Adrienne Lawson, for a yearly tradition. However, in recent years, their entrepreneurial endeavor has become a little less rewarding. In 2008, a competing sidewalk vendor opened a shop in front of the arena entrance and the Lawson sisters were prohibited from using their original location.

Metro

Burgess leads fight to keep block grants in community

In Pittsburgh, approximately 50 percent of the city is eligible to receive Community Block Development Grant dollars through a program enacted in 1974 in an effort to extinguish poverty and urban blight. The program provides grants for a wide range of projects that address the housing, economic and human service needs of low- and moderate-income residents and neighborhoods. Still, community groups and public officials worry this money is not being targeted for the neighborhoods where it is most needed. Rev. Ricky Burgess speaks at press conference prior to the meeting in council chambers. At a city council meeting June 16, council members discussed several pieces of legislation aimed at helping neighborhoods receive the resources necessary to improve or maintain their quality of life.

Metro

Byrdsong building drama continues…Alphas have signed paper of sale

Prior to the June Urban Redevelopment Authority board meetings, Homewood Brushton Revitalization and Development Corp. Sec­re­tary Sarah Campbell told the Authority the organization wanted to sell one of its properties to the current tenant, the Community Empowerment Association, not Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. But that statement appears to have been premature. K. Chase Patterson, legislative aide to U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, speaking for the fraternity, said they have a signed agreement to purchase the building. CALLING FOUL—CEA Director Rashad Byrdsong claims he is being cheated. “We have a signed agreement from an authorized member of the HBRDC to purchase (the former Rite Aid) building for $151,000,” he said. “We have a great deal of respect for Ms. Campbell and for her work in the community, so in no way are we casting aspersions on her. We’re just somewhat frustrated with what she said June 9. But I can confirm that Alpha Phi Alpha was selected by HBRDC. We have paperwork to that effect.”

Metro

Activist Stoudemire files HRC complaint

Reverend Sheldon Stoude­mire, military veteran, long-time anti-drug street preacher and children’s advocate, has filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission claiming he was fired from Auberle in retaliation for a previous HRC complaint about another employee. In February, Stoudemire had told his superiors in writing that on more than one occasion a social worker, who is not one of his supervisors, had threatened him with disciplinary action and that if it occurred again he would file a complaint with the HRC. SEEKING ANSWERS—Rev. Sheldon Stoudemire presents documentation he says supports his claim of wrongful termination from a school for troubled youths.

Metro

Mayor calls for new review board nominations

With the Pittsburgh’s Citizen Police Review Board engaged in two prominent inquiries into possible police abuse, some are questioning Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s call for the appointment of new board members. The action came June 11 as current board members were in Allegheny Common Pleas Court again seeking documents pertaining to police action during the G-20 Summit protests. Tim Stevens, director of the Black Political Empowerment Project, said the mayor’s timing is suspect with the board looking at G-20 and the beating of CAPA student Jordan Miles by three police officers in January.

Metro

Speak Out: What impact do you think the race conference will have?

The University of Pittsburgh recently held a conference on a variety of topics affecting race relations in this country. We asked Pittsburgher their reaction to the conference. Here’s what you said: “I think race in America is still a challenge, it’s an opportunity for us to have dialogue. But the real question is whether or not people care enough to behave differently as the result of a conversation. If they care enough to partner and collaborate with others and if they care enough to spread the word and communicate to people who weren’t there.”Candi Castleberry-SingletonChief Inclusion and ­Diversity Officer, UPMC

Metro

Community Calendar

Community forum JUNE 23—The Allegheny County Department of Human Services and Wilkinsburg’s Weed and Seed will host a Community Forum from 4-7 p.m. at South Avenue United Methodist Church, 733 South Ave., Wilkinsburg. The theme is “Everything Counts” and the purpose is to hear from residents about their thoughts regarding the needs, strengths and resources available to Wilkinsburg. For more information, call 412-350-6897.

Metro

Metro Beat

Looking for information City of Pittsburgh police are looking for information on the person or persons responsible for a shooting early Tuesday morning. Authorities reportedly responded to call where an unidentified 19-year-old male from the Hill District was reportedly shot in the 2400 block of Chauncey Drive and ran to the 2300 block of Bedford Avenue for help. He was taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in critical condition with gunshot wounds to the upper chest and the buttocks. His name has not been released and no arrests have been made. Anyone with information is asked to call the Homicide Squad at 412-323-7161.