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Boro officials concerned with methane gas in Church Avenue property


The retirement of the street commissioner, a methane gas leakage in a home’s garage, and a request for more information on the ambulance service were among the topics at the Nov. 19 meeting of Mt. Oliver council.

Councilman John Smith, Sr., was absent.

The meeting began with Mayor James Cassidy reporting all police equipment is functioning, and all officers’ training is completed through 2012.

He also reported he received mail about the federal surplus property program, through which the borough has gotten equipment like laptops for the fire department and more over the years. The borough will consider using the program when needs arise.

In the engineer’s report, council authorized applying to Columbia Gas for a grant to buy six laptops for use inside police and fire vehicles.

In his report, ordinance officer Steve Wilharm said there were 73 violations, 26 borough citations, eight pending citations, and 22 violation letters sent.

He said there were six no-shows for court in October from people who never picked up their citations in the mail. The borough will try to locate them; if unsuccessful, a bench warrant will be issued.

Of the 26 borough citations sent, only $50 was collected in fines.

Mr. Wilharm also reported there are dumpster bags in the front yard of a home on Anthony St. Borough secretary Kathy Connolly has made telephone calls to have them removed.

A far more serious concern is the methane gas emanating from a garage on Church Ave. and which began about two months ago when digging was occurring in the street.

“When I opened that garage door I almost passed out,” Mr. Wilharm said, who has contacted the Health Department about the situation.

“It’s not explosive at this point,” he said.

He also said the engineer needs to camera the sewers [to look for a reason for the gas].

Mr. Wilharm is concerned about the health of the inhabitants as well as the borough liability should they get sick.

In the fire department report, 12 calls were answered.

Mr. Cassidy noted the fire department is selling $10 monthly calendars for fundraising.

The department recently sent out letters to residents asking for donations. Last year’s response was disappointing.

Mr. Cassidy said anyone interested in joining of any age, male or female, should stop by the station. Volunteers do not have to be a borough resident, and they can belong without fighting fires; there are many other jobs that needs to be done. All training is free.

In the public safety report for October, Councilman Darnell Sains said there were 900 calls, 12 narcotics arrests, two arrests by the DUI task force, 14 park-and-walks with the canine unit, 274 park-and-walks by officers, and 54 community-oriented details.

In the public works report, council voted 6-0 to accept the resignation letter of street commissioner Ron Smith, who is retiring after 33 years on the job. His last working day was Nov. 9. His last official day will be Dec. 31.

John Michener, Council President Billie Michener’s husband, is serving as interim street commissioner.

Councilman Corey McGough also reported the water company will be sending help to deal with the aftermath of water breaks in the 100 block of Brownsville Rd.

Mr. Cassidy said the opposite side of the street from where the break is should also be looked at because the asphalt has raised and separated from the curb. If not repaired, the road will freeze in the winter.

Regarding pet issues, Mr. McGough said alternatives to Triangle Pet are the dog warden for the county, and Ferree Kennels.

Ferree Kennels, in McKeesport, is licensed, and charges $50 for day calls and $75 for nights. He said Ferree tries to find the owners and, if so, charges them the fee. If they come to the borough, they will charge for the trip.

Mr. McGough said the best course of action at this time is more discussions with the City of Pittsburgh about the matter.

In the meantime, the borough website states residents with pet or animal issues should call the borough secretary from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Otherwise, call the police non-emergency number.

Councilman George Farneth said a resident contacted him about litter at Ormsby Park. Mr. Farneth said the borough needs to keep an eye on the issue.

In the code enforcement report for Oct. 12 through Nov. 7, Mr. Sains reported there were 20 violations and notices, 91-unit rental inspections, 14 complaints, demolition permits for two properties, and six occupancy inspections.

In the economic development report, Mr. Farneth said the county’s facade grant program will continue in 2013. The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation has become involved with the program.

The next Hilltop Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 29 at the Knoxville Elder-ado, 320 Brownsville Rd.

The borough website has been updated, but awaits the biographical information on all council members.

Regarding Waste Management, a resident told Mr. Farneth the company does not return his telephone calls. Mr. Farneth asked all residents to inform him of such problems and he will look into them.

The 2013 application for the ambulance service will be coming soon to residences. The cost is unchanged from the current $25.

In the question-and-answer session, a resident said he heard that a local bar would be shut down.

“It’s home to a lot of people,” the resident said.

Council and Sergeant Williams said they had no knowledge of the bar closing, and that ownership calls the police when there are problems, to which the police respond.

The next resident asked why an ambulance service report is never presented at council meetings. When are its meetings? Who is on the board? When are its elections? he asked.

Councilman Pat Malloy, an ambulance service board member, said the service receives no money from the borough. Its address is listed as 150 Brownsville Rd. Elections are held every January in the borough council chambers.

Mrs. Michener said with the Pittsburgh paramedics threatening to strike, she wants to know the borough’s plan should a strike occur.

Mr. Malloy said the courts would stop such a strike, to which Mrs. Michener said she needs a plan of action.

Mr. Malloy said it would all be reported on at the annual public meeting in January.

At the meeting’s conclusion, council voted 6-0 for Northwest Savings Bank to handle pensions, including investments, for the borough. Mrs. Michener said she hopes to tie up the paperwork with the bank in December.

The next council meeting will be on Dec. 17.


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