More than football, crime, Aliquippa mayor says as city moves out of 36 years of financial distress

ALIQUIPPA, Pa. — Founded by steel, formed by its people. That’s the slogan of the City of Aliquippa and it’s those people that have pushed the city out of distress after nearly four decades.

“I was born during world war two, and so I saw it as a thriving mill town, a lot of buildings, a lot of community involvement,” said Beverley Meade.

But over the decades, Meade has watched Aliquippa fall. The loss of jobs from the steel mill closing, the hospital closing and US Airways pulling out of Pittsburgh, blight began filling this community.

“In 88 I remember coming from a football game driving through town and all the lights were out and find out the next day the city didn’t pay it’s bills,” said Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker.

That’s when this city went into Act 47 - a title that deemed them in financial distress.

“Distressed status means you don’t have nothing,” Walker said.

But Walker and this city have worked to right the wrongs since 1987 for the people.

“It’s a sense of pride because it’s my city and seeing the ups and downs of the city yet I see that the people are really determined to not let the city die,” Meade said.

The city is now financially stable, bills paid and ready to move forward with business and new jobs as the state rescinds their distressed status.

The heart and pride of this moment is evident.

“Be proud of this day, 36 years of struggle, 36 years of humps, 36 years that all we produce is football players, 36 years of you don’t do nothing else but violence and crime, 36 years of that, put it on the shelf and put the city on your back,” Walker said.

Hearing that, Meade beamed with pride as she watched her former student, now mayor, lead the future generations as she did from her high school classroom with him.

It’s a full circle moment for her and her city.

“I told him he was destined to do this type of stuff and that I would be with him all the way,” Meade said.

So, what’s next? The mayor said the city is open for business. The doors are open for growth and the future is bright.

Download the FREE WPXI News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Channel 11 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch WPXI NOW