South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Boro appoints another council member, considers ending Saturday free parking


A new council member, and reestablishment of the Civil Service Commission, were the lead stories from the May 20 Mount Oliver council meeting.

It began with Barbara Keener being appointed to council until year’s end to fill the seat formerly occupied by John Smith, Sr.

Mr. Smith, a longtime councilman and former mayor, died on May 8.

At his seat was a fire helmet with a black ribbon around it in honor of Mr. Smith, a nearly 60-year member of the Mount Oliver volunteer fire department, including 35 years as president.

This will be the first time on council for Mrs. Keener, a former member of the Planning Commission and the Zoning Hearing Board. The retired Pittsburgh Public Schools’ high school teacher is a 60-year borough resident.

“I appreciate the opportunity to give back to my community,” she said.

In announcements, the borough’s new “block group” will meet the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the fire hall. Issues include crime and safety; code enforcement; nuisance properties; trash collection; and more.

Contact borough intern Ricky Hopkinson in the borough offices to become involved, or talk to your local block captain.

“We need nebby neighbors back,” council President Billie Michener said.

In the mayor’s report for April, there were 515 police calls; 13 narcotics arrests; and the K-9 units were used 27 times. Officers conducted 53 park-and-walks; four targeted patrols; and 23 community oriented details.

Council approved a police service agreement allowing off-duty borough officers to direct traffic, etc., for utility companies and contractors working in the borough. They will be paid by those companies.

Councilman Darnell Sains said city officers will no longer be allowed to do this work in Mount Oliver.

Council also approved additional police training: two officers will attend a firearms and armor class; and two officers will attend classes to become field-training officers.

In his report, ordinance officer Steve Wilharm said there were 119 violations, 54 borough citations, 12 state citations, and 32 violation letters.

He reminded attendees TVs, computers, printers, and other such items can no longer be left at the curb for pick-up, according to a new state law. Instead the items must be taken to an electronics retail store or collection location where they will be recycled.

Mr. Cassidy told Mr. Wilharm trash is being stacked beside a fire hydrant by Anthony and Holzer streets, which is a hazard.

In public safety, the plan is to swear in four new part-time officers at the next council meeting: Officers Candioto, Lukas, McCarthy and Young.

Mrs. Michener announced borough council prefers no more free parking on Saturday because the borough needs the revenue generated by the metered spaces. The matter will be discussed with the parking enforcement officer.

When it was reported to a vendor was handing out free telephones, the police asked the man for a permit. The police are now checking for permits for such activities.

Mr. Sains said an aim of increased police walks in the borough is to keep youths from congregating in front of certain stores, which interferes with daily business traffic and makes a mess for the road crew.

“We are committed to making this a better and safer community,” he said.

Acting Chief Sergeant Matt Juzwick announced Corporal Kevin Lockhart has resigned from the K-9 unit. As a result, the “bomb dog” will be leaving for the city of Pittsburgh. The borough will still have a “drug dog.”

Mrs. Michener said while the bomb dog was “free,” its maintenance cost taxpayers a substantial amount, and the borough was not reimbursed for the dog’s use outside the borough.

The vehicle used for the dog will now become a regular police car. It has limited miles, she said, so it will be like a brand new car back in the rotation.

Next, solicitor Deron Gabriel said the borough needed to reestablish a Civil Service Commission to meet state regulations. To that end, three members were appointed, and then sworn in by Mr. Cassidy: Heather Mitchell, 6-year term; Amber McGough, 4-year term; and Mrs. Michener, 2-year term.

The three will undergo all-day training on May 29.

In the public works report, Councilman Corey McGough said the municipal building is now in compliance with the code after the garage floor was demolished, and painting was done to remove stains.

Speed trap lines have also been painted.

Pothole repair is underway. He told attendees to call him about spots needing addressed.

As grass-cutting season is here, Mr. McGough said he had to hire someone as soon as possible. Due to the immediate need, he hired a volunteer firefighter for two months, but forgot to bring it before council.

He will also be recommending to council the hiring of two more part-time summer workers for June and July.

In the recreation report, Mr. Sains said baseball is being played on the fields.

Those holding permits are responsible for cleaning the Transverse Park field house after using the facility.

He recently cleaned out the building, with others including Mrs. Michener and some football coaches, for use for storage. The work involved mopping floors, cleaning locker rooms, giving away old uniforms and hats and more.

Two dumpsters were filled with what they threw away.

Mrs. Michener said the acting police chief will stop by Ormsby Park between 8 and 9 p.m. to remove youngsters from the basketball courts, and lock the facility.

In the economic development report, the Fifth Annual “Cruisin’ on the Hilltop” will be held from noon to 6 p.m. on June 22 along the 100-300 blocks of Brownsville Rd. It will feature car cruise, sidewalk sales, oldies band, kids games, and more.

The Hilltop Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) assists the borough in organizing the event.

Contact Mr. Hopkinson in the borough offices to volunteer.

In the Waste Management report, Mrs. Michener said the borough has to wait until the amount a resident owes in back payment is over $60 to take it to Magisterial District Judge Richard King. Otherwise, it will cost the borough too much money.

The company’s SHACOG contract is up this year, at which time others will bid on the service.

In the solicitor’s report, council voted to advertise two ordinances: one, requiring Jordan Tax Services to send sewage bills to the property owners instead of tenants; and two, a vacant property registration ordinance requiring that after a building becomes vacant, the owner must pay $250 which will be returned if there is a new tenant within six months.

The fee in the vacant property registration ordinance will cover fire and police protection.

In the question-and-answer session, a resident said motorists often stop in the middle of Brownsville Rd. to chat with someone on the sidewalk. Acting Chief Juzwick said to call 911 if they see it happen.

Another attendee said groups with field permits are not following the rule of parking on only one side of the street leading to the field.

Signs will be posted, as will signs at all park entrances stating “Park closes at dusk” and “No dogs permitted in park” signs.

To a question of whether a permit is needed for yard sales, the answer is yes, there is a $5 fee for the permit.

In unfinished business, the borough is still trying to buy the First National Bank building on the corner of Brownsville Rd. and Arlington Ave. The borough administration offices could be moved there if the sale goes through.

A bank vice-president would like to meet with council to discuss the matter.

In new business, Mrs. Michener said no one is angrier than she is about problems with the new, energy-efficient LED lighting on Brownsville Rd. The contractor does not feel he is to blame.

Wagner Electric will do an inspection, and get to the source of the problem.

Mrs. Michener also said that if someone wants to buy a house in the borough that has back taxes, council will likely exonerate the borough taxes. But the person must go to the city, county, school district, and other taxing bodies for those taxes to be exonerated.

The next council meeting will be on June 17.


Reader Comments

why writes:

I'm not sure I understand the purpose of the proposed Ordinance that may require homeowners in the borough to pay $250.00 if their property sits vacant. Homeowner's insurance would cover costs if there were a fire or a break-in so why would the borough want a $250.00 deposit for these services? If an owner does not want to rent their property but still maintenances the property I don't see a need for this. If a property is abandoned or in poor condition then there are already Ordinances.


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