Monday, July 19, 2010

Clairton News

Lots of Clairton news today

Hot off the presses: The explosion last week at the Clairton works sent ripples of fear through the Mon Valley. Reports of the number injured ranges from 15-20 depending on the report. With memories of Nicholas Revetta’s death last September still fresh in the minds of residents, questions of the mill’s relevance are again being raised. The blast occurred at an oven in the Coke Works about 9:30 last Wednesday. At least two and possibly three of the injured were critical. Most of the injuries were burns. By Friday nine were still hospitalized.

Although most of the U. S. Steel mills in the valley have been shuttered for decades, Clairton Works is one of the few remaining. It employs about 1,500 and manufactures nearly five million tons of coke per year. The plant is an anachronism left over from Clairton’s glory days. Besides coke the plant also produces putrid air that exposes Clairton and Glassport resident to toxic air that increases their risk of cancer by 20 times the national average. That makes Clairton and Glassport the third and fourth highest risk air pollution in the nation. U.S. Steel had announced a $1 billion renovation of the plant last year but later cancelled those plans. Ironically, Clairton’s new, young Mayor, Richard Lattanzi, is the safety coordinator for nearby Irvin Works.

Magic Mike Super: Clairton native Mike Super can make plenty of things disappear. Ok, maybe not the bad air that surrounds the community, but the young magician recently brought his act to the Palace Theater in nearby Greensburg. In his act, Super mixes humor with illusions, makes audience members levitate, and even makes a vehicle disappear. The 1987 CHS grad also made The Daily News disappear... well, more accurately, he was one of many newsboys who tossed the paper six days a week. His high school magic, which he began performing at age six, also included being a member of the CHS Marching Band. He is in the midst of preparing a TV series. Mike Super, magician and Clairton boy.

Ghosts from Clairton past: The Pastore family name is well known in Clairton. Dan, Sr. was a local store owner and newspaper distributor, other family members were football heroes and achievers who added to the Clairton story. Sadly for at least one Pastore, life ended too soon. Eddie Pastore was killed 21 years ago. At the time Clairton was struggling fiscally and was in such turmoil that it had no police department. No local detectives, no hometown force that knew the community, and the case languished. A childhood friend has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the murderer of Eddie Pastore.

Mike Boss grew up with Eddie and the fact that the investigation has not moved forward has stuck in his craw for more than two decades. So he is trying to get the case reopened. In addition to the reward efforts include a Facebook page, “Eddie Pastore Memorial” and a show on We hope the efforts of Mike Boss and his collaborators will provide new information for this cold case.
Clairton man hiking Appalachian Trail: On November 24, 2003 Clairton resident Rodger Henry Biddle had a very bad day. That day he was arrested for aggravated assault, discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure, 23 counts of terroristic threats, and 26 counts of recklessly endangering another person. He was shot six times by a SWAT Team with bean bags and pleaded guilty to all counts. But he fled to South Carolina and made the number one spot on the Allegheny County Most Wanted list. The second worst day of his life was a couple of weeks ago when authorities in South Carolina arrested him on the outstanding warrant and shipped him back to PA. Not quite the reason Clairtonians want to shout, “We’re Number 1!”

Hot August Nights in June: The area of Third Street and Baker Avenue became the hub of activity a couple of weeks ago. At 2:00 a.m. police from 12 different communities answered the “Officer needs assistance” call and went to that location. There they discovered what was described as a riot. Although there were reports of shots fired the only apparent injury was to a woman who broke her arm during the brawl.

Hometown loyalty: Ralph Imbrogno was recently furloughed from his job as Clairton’s City Manager after more than a decade of service in that position. The reasons were purely fiscal. The City has to cut costs and Ralph understands that. His history with the City of Clairton extends back to the early 1970s. The positions of City Manager and Finance Director were combined and a part time employee was hired to do that job. Although his tenure as a paid employee for Clairton has ended Mr. I. has vowed to assist the city with his expertise in any way he can. Specifically he said, "It's my home. Anything I can do to help out, I will do it." THAT is the attitude that will bring Clairton back to prosperity.

A special thank you for all who sent me information that appeared on today’s blog.

A little blogging music Maestro... “My Hometown” by the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.

Dr. Forgot

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