Braddock Library Looking Ahead At 125th Anniversary

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Hempel remembers his father, Robert, pausing every time he drove past the Braddock Carnegie Library.

“That’s where I taught myself to read,” Robert would tell his young son as he’d point to the stately building.

The elder Hempel’s story likely mirrors those held by many residents of the library’s service area. For more than a century, the building has served as a hub for community activity and education, as intended by its founder and namesake, Andrew Carnegie. As the 125th anniversary of the building approaches, library leaders are preparing to celebrate all that has taken place during its storied past.

“Andrew Carnegie said he intended this to be a center for light and learning for generations to come,” says John Hempel of Braddock Hills, president of the library’s board. The memories of his father inspired Hempel to get involved more than two decades ago. “It’s such a neat mission statement and really what the whole place is all about.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/lifestyles/morelifestyles/5768153-74/library-carnegie-braddock#ixzz2xV02JAgJ
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Kickstarting A Braddock Restaurant: Kevin Sousa’s Superior Motors

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When chef Kevin Sousa last year announced plans to open a fourth restaurant in Braddock, one of the Pittsburgh area’s poorest boroughs, it was big news. Not only would the high-end destination eatery in the 1929 Couda Building give Pittsburghers one more place to enjoy Mr. Sousa’s award-winning modern cuisine, but it also would bring much-needed life to a town all but left for dead.

Then reality set in.

While various grants from the county and Heritage Community Initiatives were to raise upwards of $300,000 for renovations, the dilapidated structure at the corner of Eighth and Braddock avenues would end up needing way more resources. Too many dollars, in fact, to make the ambitious project feasible. Magarac — as the restaurant was to be named after the imaginary Croatian steelmaking folk hero — was about to be history before it even got started.

Without rich investors or bankers willing to take a chance, Mr. Sousa had to change direction this fall to keep his dream alive. First up was finding a new building that would prove cheaper, quicker and easier to build out. Second was coming up with a creative source of financing to pay for it.

With Mayor John Fetterman’s help, he’s hoping to hit on both cylinders.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/life/dining/2013/12/05/Kickstarting-the-Braddock-restaurant/stories/201312050096#ixzz2md7YTAqp

U.S. Steel’s Lower Taxes Causing Budget Headaches

U.S. Steel

U.S. Steel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A succession of successful tax appeals by U.S. Steel earlier this year, resulting in the assessed value of some of its major properties in Allegheny County plummeting by millions of dollars, has put big dents in municipal and school budgets.

The drop in real estate tax revenue has prompted three school districts — Woodland Hills, Clairton and West Mifflin — to file court challenges to the appeals granted to U.S. Steel by the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review, and is pushing Braddock to consider an earned income tax increase.

Ira Weiss, solicitor for the Clairton City School District, called U.S. Steel’s new assessments, which resulted in the value of its coke plant in Clairton dropping from nearly $10.6 million in 2012 to just above $2 million this year, “laughable.”

“We believe the approach of [U.S. Steel] in these appeals with these communities where they’ve been longtime partners is deplorable, really,” Mr. Weiss said. “It was devastating. … [Clairton's] a small school district in a small town and no local government can sustain this kind of hit from an ongoing concern.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/east/2013/11/30/U-S-Steel-s-lower-taxes-causing-budget-headaches/stories/201311300091#ixzz2m9CxWD00

Killing In Braddock Is 1st Homicide In Borough In 5 Years

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A man was shot and killed early this morning in Braddock, the borough’s first homicide in more than five years, Mayor John Fetterman said.

The Allegheny County medical examiner’s office identified the man as Derrail Roilton, 24, of Braddock.

He was pronounced dead at 3:26 a.m. outside a home in the 600 block of Second Street.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-east/man-shot-to-death-in-braddock-703574/#ixzz2f4IqFrb1

U.S. Steel Touts Coke Plant Project As Good For Jobs, Air

UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION COKE PLANT IN ...

UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION COKE PLANT IN A VALLEY SURROUNDED BY HOMES AT CLAIRTON, PENNSYLVANIA. LOCATED 20… – NARA – 557213 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

U.S. Steel today formally commissioned a new battery of ovens at its Clairton coke plant, a $500 million project the company said will preserve steelmaking jobs in the Mon Valley and improve the region’s air quality.

The project is a scaled back version of the $1 billion proposal the Pittsburgh steelmaker announced in late 2007, before the global recession decimated steel demand and caused the industry to retrench.

President and CEO John P. Surma said even after the scope was reduced, the project was the largest in the history of the Clairton plant and one of the largest in U.S. Steel’s 112-year history.  He said it secures the jobs of 1,300 Clairton employees as well as the 1,400 who work at the company’s Edgar Thomson plant in Braddock and the Irvin plant in West Mifflin.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/breaking/us-steel-touts-coke-plant-project-as-good-for-jobs-air-672843/#ixzz2Jb0uFLsx

Braddock Mayor To Be Honored By White House As AmeriCorps Alumni

The White House Friday will honor Braddock Mayor John Fetterman as an outstanding AmeriCorps alumni who is a “Champions of Change.”

Mr. Fetterman is one of a dozen lauded for what the White House said is “leveraging their national service experience to become an influential leader in their communities.”

Mr. Fetterman, a Harvard graduate with a master’s degree in public policy, was placed in AmeriCorps service by the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. He moved to Braddock in 2001 to do the AmeriCorps work. Four years later he became the town’s mayor — winning the election by a single vote — and has been at the forefront of a massive effort to revitalize the once-prosperous town ever since.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-east/braddock-mayor-to-be-honored-by-white-house-as-americorps-alumni-649273/#ixzz23kIFbGM7

Braddock Looks To New Kevin Sousa Restaurant As Urban Renewal Project

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Now this is walking the talk! Good luck Chef Sousa!

Even more people are going to think chef Kevin Sousa is nuts: He’s not only opening his next restaurant in busted-down Braddock, he’s also moving his family there.

At a press conference today at County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s office, the multi-tasking co-owner of Salt of the Earth in Garfield — and Station Street Hot Dogs and Union Pig and Chicken in East Liberty — announced that he’s opening a restaurant in the former Cuda’s Italian Market building at Eighth Street and Braddock Avenue, a desolate corner in one of the region’s most desolate business districts.

As a sign of his commitment to this broke but the once-bustling borough on the Monongahela River, Mr. Sousa decided he’s going to live there, too, in the old Ohringer Building just down the street.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-south/braddock-looks-to-new-kevin-sousa-restaurant-as-urban-renewal-project-641021/#ixzz1yHTCD9Sl