The Jan. 16 meeting of Mt. Oliver council featured the announcement of new committees and members, news of the borough website, and the potential implementation of a Civil Service Commission for police hiring.
Councilman George Farneth was absent.
In the Mayor's Report, James Cassidy said there were eight narcotics-related arrests in December for heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and guns. There were also two DUI arrests. The police department answered 722 calls.
Council President Billie Michener announced the new committee memberships:
Public Safety/Risk Management: Darnell Sains, chair; Corey McGough and John Smith;
Public Works: Mr. McGough, chair; Mr. Sains and Christine Brendel;
Planning: Deana Wuenschel;
Administration/Finance/(Treasurer report - new): Ms. Brendel, chair; Mr. Farneth and Mr. Smith;
Recreation (Fundraising - new): Mr. Smith, chair; Mr. Sains and Mr. McGough (after Patrick Malloy declined);
Economic Development (Website - new): Mr. Farneth, chair; Ms. Brendel and Mr. McGough;
Waste Management/Sewage/Ambulance/Ordinances (new): Ms. Brendel, chair (after Mr. Malloy declined); Mr. Farneth and Mr. Smith.
In other business, Robert Fuchs was appointed to the Vacancy Board. Mr. Fuchs can step in if, after a vacancy on council, a new member is not appointed by council within 30 days.
In the engineer's report, Kurt Todd confirmed a workshop at 7 p.m. on Jan. 24 in borough council chambers to discuss sewers and other projects. The closing date for a $575,000 loan from PennVest, the Pa. Infrastructure Investment Authority, for mandated sewer repairs is Feb. 7.
A $100,000 grant, funded from the casinos through the county, has been acquired for remediation of the arsenic contamination in the playground at Ormsby Park. The soil testing report attributed the arsenic to the playground equipment, which has been removed.
The soil evaluation was requested by KaBOOM!, a national program for installing new playground equipment. The new equipment will be provided once the soil is replaced.
Mrs. Michener said the community must get involved in the playground project.
"You pick what equipment you want," she said.
During the police report, new solicitor Deron Gabriel explained what a Civil Service Commission is. The borough does not currently have a Civil Service Commission.
A Civil Service Commission would consist of three borough residents appointed by council. The commission makes recommendations on police hiring, firing, promotions and other departmental issues.
The matter will be researched further for rules and regulations, and information on the training of the three residents.
Mr. Sains said it would strengthen the police department.
In the public works report, Mr. McGough because it is a slow time of year for the street crew, residents should call him or the borough about potential projects, such as bad street signs or curbs.
Mrs. Michener said the new borough website, http://www.mountoliverboro.org, will eventually include information like council members' phone numbers, fundraisers, budgets, maps, and more.
"We are trying to be more accessible," said Mr. McGough.
He also said residents wishing to address council at meetings no longer need to sign in a week in advance.
A resident commented that she would like to know the order of salted streets so she would know which ones to travel in snowy weather. Mrs. Michener said that while such a map will be posted on the website, it will not be adhered to 100 percent due to weather conditions.
In the recreation report, Mr. Sains said he wants to get a small football league started this spring with the help of a couple of residents. He also would like to see a small basketball league for teens.
Mt. Oliver pride tee-shirts are also a possibility.
A resident suggested a hockey league also.
In any case, an athletic association must be formed first.
Mrs. Michener said the effort requires networking, flyers, and more to inform residents of the proposed activities. Money has been allocated for advertising.
An attendee commented she was never notified of recent street work by the water company. Mr. Cassidy said utility companies have to inform the borough of road closures.
The attendee also wanted to know if the borough will inspect the completed work. Mrs. Michener said someone on council will be accountable for seeing the inspection is performed.
Former councilman Dennis Obeldobel told the attendee the borough code details what a contractor is allowed to do. When he would not stop speaking when Mrs. Michener told him to, she had him removed from the meeting by a police officer.
In the report of the Hilltop Economic Development Corporation (HEDC), Mr. Sains said the next meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 26 at the Elder-ado McKinley Center, 900 Delmont Ave ., Beltzhoover. Anyone can attend. The HEDC meets the last Thursdays of the month at the Elder-ado.
"People are trying to help this borough. They get money we can't get on our own," said Mr. Sains of the HEDC.
"They are a team of people worth their weight in gold," he said.
Fire chief Fran Kestner reported that a fish fry will be held every Friday in Lent from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
So far, the fire department's annual fund drive has netted $6,000.
Mr. Cassidy is now certified as a safety officer.
Mrs. Michener said the fire department is all volunteer. Fundraising has not been as successful as in years past. Bingo income is off since the casinos opened and the smoking ban went into effect.
When fire fighters ask for help, residents should send $25 or more, she said. Of the 1800 mailings to residents for a donation, only 450 were returned.
Mr. Sains said the fire department also acts as an ambulance before the EMS arrives, so they save lives in more ways than one.
Ordinance officer Steve Wilharm reported he issued 104 violations, with 89 of the citations for unshoveled sidewalks. A borough ordinance states residents must keep their sidewalks clean and the snow cannot be shoveled into the street. Residents have 24 hours to clear sidewalks after a snowfall. Regulations will be put on the borough website.
Mrs. Michener said a work session will be held on how council can assist Mr. Wilharm.
In the solicitor's report, Mr. Gabriel said the borough's 2012 tax anticipation loan is for $110,000 at 2.3 percent interest through Northwest Savings Bank on Brownsville Rd. Last year's rate was 2.4 percent.
During the public hearings, a resident complained, as he has repeatedly, about a dumpster overflowing with debris outside a Stamm Ave. apartment building. He also asked if a landlord must inform the borough of any rental property they own. The answer is yes, landlord are required to inform the borough about their rental properties.
He said the landlord tells him he sees people coming and going from the building who he does not know.
Mrs. Michener also told the resident to start a block watch.
Another resident asked if the borough would place barriers, like bails of hay, as a bumper zone in front of a chain link fence she and her husband own that sled riders crash into. She is also interested in protecting the youngsters from getting hurt.
Mrs. Michener said because the resident owns the fence, she should call her homeowners insurance; But if major destruction occurs, to call police.
Mr. Malloy also said to contact the parents' homeowners insurance if she knows who the sled riders are.
A resident said he was there to thank the police department for taking care of a drug situation.
The evening's final action was approving a final bill from the prior solicitor, James Perich, for $2,209. A letter from Mr. Perich stated he would not release the files to the new solicitor until his bill was paid.
"I don't know what else he's going to hold us hostage to," said Mr. Sains in voting against paying the bill.
Mr. Gabriel will send Mr. Perich a letter stating he will send the check after he gets the files.
The next council meeting will be on Feb. 20.