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South Neighborhoods
Mayor issues state of emergency in salt-poor McKeesport

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

By Cindi Lash and Johnna A. Pro, Post-Gazette Staff Writers

McKeesport Mayor Wayne M. Kucich issued a state of emergency in his community last night, saying dwindling salt supplies limited the number of roads that could be treated by public works crews.

Kucich, in a statement, asked residents not to drive on city streets unless it "was absolutely necessary" because of icy conditions.

Kucich said that only main roads in the city would be treated. He did not say that residents would be arrested if they drove, but a state of emergency typically allows communities to penalize anyone on the roads other then emergency officials and medical personnel.

County Public Works Director Tom Donatelli said McKeesport officials contacted him late yesterday afternoon, asking if they could borrow 250 tons of salt from the county's 3,000-ton stockpile. Donatelli said he told McKeesport officials that he could lend them only about 30 tons -- or three truckloads.

Donatelli said the county received about 50 tons of salt yesterday from its suppliers and is expecting more shipments later this week. But the county yesterday also lent about 180 tons to Whitehall, West Deer, Pittsburgh and a couple of other communities whose own salt shipments aren't due to be delivered until later this week.

Those communities will replenish what they borrowed when their supplies come in, he said. The county needs about 400 tons, or 40 truckloads, each time it salts the 410 miles of roads it is responsible for maintaining, Donatelli said.

"I told McKeesport I could give them enough to salt their primary routes, but I can't give away so much that it puts [the rest of the county] into a state of emergency," Donatelli said. "We said we couldn't give them the 250 tons, but told them to give us a call if they were in a pinch. We could give them the 30 tons."

Donatelli said McKeesport initially did not take him up on his offer. Then while driving home last night, Donatelli said he was puzzled to hear a radio news report announcing the state of emergency in McKeesport.

Moments later, a employee telephoned him with the same news.

Cindi Lash can be reached at clash@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1973. Johnna Pro can be reached at jpro@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1574.

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