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Puppies on Parade: Dogs walk, compete at annual Mutt March in Monongahela

Puppies paraded down Main Street, from the Aquatorium to Chess Park in downtown Monongahela May 7 for the annual Mutt March, where more than 50 people gathered to pet the pooches, shop local vendors and watch the laid-back dog show and awards ceremony.

“This is purely whimsical,” said Corrina Withrow, of the Monongahela Area Revitalization Corporation. “This is just fun.”

Fun certainly was had by all the costume-wearing dogs and their owners, some of whom dressed up to match their pooches.

Pamela Priches, of Monongahela, donned a sombrero and Mexican jacket and walked her dogs Atlas and Daisy, wore similar, colorful attire, down Main Street and through Chess Park.

“The three amigos,” Priches exclaimed, adding she and the pups were carrying Cinco de Mayo energy into the weekend event.

Between the dog show, where pups impressed four judges, and the awards ceremony, Monongahela City Police Department entertained with K9 unit demonstrations. The new officer K9 Mitch impressed the crowd with successful search missions and garnered “aww”s as he happily chewed his toy ball – a reward for missions completed.

The Mutt March has been held annually for 13 years, in honor of the late Susan Jo Withers, who served as a member of the MARC. This year’s sponsors were Doreen Walters Realty One, Eddie Volkars Body Shop and Sarah J. O’Brien.

More than 60 feared dead in bombing of Ukrainian school
Dozens of Ukrainians are feared dead after a Russian bomb destroyed a school sheltering about 90 people in eastern Ukraine
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ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine – More than 60 people were feared dead Sunday after a Russian bomb flattened a school being used as a shelter, Ukrainian officials said, while Moscow’s forces pressed their attack on defenders inside Mariupol’s steel plant in an apparent race to capture the city ahead of Russia’s Victory Day holiday.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “appalled” by the reported school bombing Saturday in the eastern village of Bilohorivka and called it another reminder that “it is civilians that pay the highest price” in war.

Authorities said about 90 people were sheltering in the basement. Emergency crews found two bodies and rescued 30 people, but “most likely all 60 people who remain under the rubble are now dead,” Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk province, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Russian shelling also killed two boys, ages 11 and 14, in the nearby town of Pryvillia, he said. Luhansk is part of the Donbas, the industrial heartland in the east that Russia’s forces are working to capture.

As Moscow prepared to celebrate the 1945 surrender of Nazi Germany with a Victory Day military parade on Monday, a lineup of Western leaders and celebrities made surprise visits to Ukraine in a show of support.

U.S. first lady Jill Biden met with her Ukrainian counterpart. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised his country’s flag at its embassy in Kyiv. And U2’s Bono, alongside bandmate The Edge, performed in a Kyiv subway station that had been used as a bomb shelter, singing the 1960s song “Stand by Me.”

The newly appointed acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Kristina Kvien, posted a picture of herself at the American Embassy, and described plans for the eventual U.S. return to the Ukrainian capital after Moscow’s forces abandoned their effort to storm Kyiv weeks ago and began focusing on the capture of the Donbas.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and others warned in recent days that Russian attacks would only worsen in the lead-up to Victory Day, and some cities declared curfews or cautioned people against gathering in public. Russian President Vladimir Putin may want to proclaim some kind of triumph in Ukraine when he addresses the troops on Red Square.

“They have nothing to celebrate tomorrow,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told CNN. “They have not succeeded in defeating the Ukrainians. They have not succeeded in dividing the world or dividing NATO. And they have only succeeded in isolating themselves internationally and becoming a pariah state around the globe.”

Russian forces struggled to complete their takeover of Mariupol, which has been largely reduced to rubble. The sprawling seaside steel mill where an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters were making what appeared to be their last stand was the only part of the city not under Russian control.

The last of the women, children and older civilians who were taking shelter with the fighters in the Azovstal plant were evacuated Saturday. Buses carrying over 170 evacuees from the steelworks and other parts of Mariupol arrived in the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia on Sunday, U.N. officials said.

The Ukrainian defenders in the steel mill have rejected deadlines set by the Russians for laying down their arms.

Capt. Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Ukrainian Azov Regiment, a unit holding the steel mill, said the site was targeted overnight by warplanes, artillery and tanks.

“We are under constant shelling,” he said online, adding that Russian ground troops tried to storm the plant – a claim Russian officials denied in recent days – and lay mines. Palamar reported a “multitude of casualties.”

Lt. Illya Samoilenko, another member of the Azov Regiment, said there were a couple of hundred wounded soldiers at the plant but declined to reveal how many able-bodied fighters remained. He said fighters didn’t have lifesaving equipment and had to dig by hand to free people from bunkers that had collapsed under the shelling.

“Surrender for us is unacceptable because we cannot grant such a gift to the enemy,” Samoilenko said.

The Ukrainian government has reached out to international organizations to try to secure safe passage for the defenders.

On the economic front, leaders from the Group of Seven industrial democracies pledged to ban or phase out imports of Russian oil. The G-7 consists of the U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Japan.

The United States also announced new sanctions against Russia, cutting off Western advertising from Russia’s three biggest TV stations, banning U.S. accounting and consulting firms from providing services, and cutting off Russia’s industrial sector from wood products, industrial engines, boilers and bulldozers.

Trudeau met with Zelenskyy and made a surprise visit to Irpin, which was damaged in Russia’s attempt to take Kyiv. The Ukrainian president also met with the German parliament speaker, Bärbel Bas, in Kyiv to discuss further defense assistance.

Jill Biden visited western Ukraine for a surprise Mother’s Day meeting with Zelenskyy’s wife, Olena Zelenska.

Zelenskyy released a video address marking the day of the Allied victory in Europe 77 years ago, drawing parallels between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the evils of Nazism. The black-and-white footage showed Zelenskyy standing in front of a ruined apartment block in Borodyanka, a Kyiv suburb.

Zelenskyy said that generations of Ukrainians understood the significance of the words “Never again,” a phrase often used as a vow not to allow a repeat of the horrors of the Holocaust.

Elsewhere, on Ukraine’s coast, explosions echoed again across the major Black Sea port of Odesa. At least five blasts were heard, according to local media.

The Ukrainian military said Moscow was focusing its main efforts on destroying airfield infrastructure in eastern and southern Ukraine.

In a sign of the dogged resistance that has sustained the fighting into its 11th week, Ukraine’s military struck Russian positions on a Black Sea island that was captured in the war’s first days. A satellite image by Planet Labs showed smoke rising from two sites on the island.

But Moscow’s forces showed no sign of backing down in the south. Satellite photos show Russia has put armored vehicles and missile systems at a small base in the Crimean Peninsula.

The most intense combat in recent days has taken place in eastern Ukraine. A Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northeast near Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, is making “significant progress,” according to the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank.

However, the Ukrainian army withdrew from the embattled eastern city of Popasna, regional authorities said.

Rodion Miroshnik, a representative of the pro-Kremlin, separatist Luhansk People’s Republic, said its forces and Russian troops had captured most of Popasna after two months of fierce fighting.

The Kharkiv regional administration said three people were killed in shelling of the town of Bogodukhiv, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Kharkiv city.

South of Kharkiv, in Dnipropetrovsk province, the governor said a 12-year-old boy was killed by a cluster munition that he found after a Russian attack. An international treaty bans the use of such explosives, but neither Russia nor Ukraine has signed the agreement.

“This war is treacherous,” the governor, Valentyn Reznichenko, wrote on social media. “It is near, even when it is invisible.”

Gambrell reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Yesica Fisch in Bakhmut, David Keyton in Kyiv, Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov in Kharkiv and AP staff around the world contributed to this report.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine:

editor's pick
Cooper urges NAACP banquet attendees to continue 'fight forward'
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LeMoyne Community Center Executive Director Linda Harris said she learned throughout her 30-year career with the state Department of Corrections, where she served as deputy superintendent of SCI-Fayette, that “we have to work with the youth as early as possible, to have them see the possibilities of life.”

After she retired from the DOC, Harris began volunteering at LeMoyne Community Center and served as program director before succeeding longtime executive director Joyce Ellis after Ellis’ death in December 2020.

Over the 14 years Harris has spent with the LeMoyne Center, she has helped children see the possibilities of life through various programs and activities, including the American Girl Book Club, a reading program that culminates with a trip to a city where the American Girl story is set.

For her contributions to the LeMoyne Center and Washington County, Harris was presented with the Human Rights Award Friday at the NAACP Washington branch 62th Annual Human Rights Award Banquet at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel Meadowlands.

The event, held in-person for the first time since 2019, also included a powerful keynote address by pastor and retired Allegheny County magisterial court judge Kevin E. Cooper Sr.

Cooper grew up in Canton Township and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. He is founder and CEO of K. Cooper ministries, and served as founder and pastor of Mulberry Community Church in Pittsburgh. He also established the non-profit Helping Hand Community Development Corporation, and his state truancy conferences have reduced truancy in the city of Pittsburgh.

Cooper urged attendees to “continue to fight forward” on issues including education and the right to vote – both key NAACP issues.

He called on NAACP members and supporters to oppose voter suppression efforts that are making it disproportionately difficult for communities of color to vote.

“This is not the time to be suppressing the Black vote. Now it the time to stand up and count every vote. Don’t make it harder for African-Americans to vote,” he said.

Cooper said he learned valuable life lessons while growing up in the Washington area, and urged everyone to step forward to mentor the current generation of children.

“We, as older adults, have to begin to seek out young African-Americans to teach them, and bring them around, and show them how to be leaders,” he said.

Before Cooper’s keynote address, Harris – who was brought to tears – said she was “humbled, honored and appreciative of this unexpected recognition.”

It was a bittersweet night for Harris, who announced at the banquet she will be retiring May 30.

“When I retired from the Department of Corrections, my goal was to give back, to create, to make a difference and to pay it forward,” said Harris. “I came to the LeMoyne Center with the determination to do just that.”

“Often, kids have trouble envisioning a brighter future. In reality, none of us has a perfect life, we all have problems. What’s important is how we choose to deal with those. I wanted to see these ‘underprivileged, underprepared’ kids be the ‘underestimated’ kids, she continued, as the audience applauded and cheered.

Harris, who was born in Pittsburgh, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a desire to help others.

One of her favorite programs is the American Girl Book Club, which Harris launched because she “wanted them to realize there is a world to them outside of Washington County.”

Harris described her years at LeMoyne Center as “the most amazing of my life,” and said she was honored to work alongside Ellis to rebuild the center, which had fallen into disrepair in the early 1990s.

Harris said she shares the award with countless mentors, staff, volunteers, and her husband, Sam, and son, Darnell.

Harris said she plans to spend more time with her family.

“Now, I’ll focus on my personal goals. I’ve put aside because I put everything I have in the center. But I know I’m leaving the LeMoyne Center in good hands,” said Harris. “I have no doubt the center will continue to prosper and thrive under their leadership.”

Teresa Burroughs has been tapped as executive director and Patricia Robinson will serve a program director.

Lynelle Goins served as mistress of ceremonies, while Dorothy Young, minister of music at St. Paul AME Church in Washington, led the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Also, the Washington County Community Foundation awarded a $3,000 internship grant in Harris’ name to the LeMoyne Center. The grant will allow the center to provide a stipend to a college student intern working at the nonprofit.