South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Boro swears in another new council member, picks new trash hauler


A new council member, new garbage service, and Civil Service testing for police officers for the first time in decades topped the news from the Oct. 21 meeting of Mt. Oliver council.

Council members Corey McGough and Christine Brendel were absent.

The evening began with Mayor James Cassidy swearing-in Nicholas Viglione who was appointed by council to fill the seat of Vanessa Talley, who resigned after moving out of the borough.

Ms. Talley was appointed to the seat in April by council to fill the unexpired term until December of Patrick Malloy, who resigned the prior month.

Mr. Viglione, 64, a 37-year resident, is a retired construction worker. He was involved for 19 years in Mt. Oliver Indians football, and for 15 years in the borough’s Little League baseball.

This is his first time on council.

Mr. Cassidy also swore in three new Zoning Board members: John Prokop for a term expiring Jan., 2016; Donna Smith for a term expiring Jan., 2017. and alternate Gerard Wuenschel for a term expiring Jan., 2017.

Next, council President Billie Michener announced Republic Services will be the borough’s garbage hauler, beginning in January for five years.

It replaces Waste Management, whose contract is up at year’s end.

The borough has reported numerous problems with the service over the years, the most recent being its failure to pick up garbage at homes on Frederick St. where mine subsidence occurred.

Mrs. Michener said Republic offered better services at better prices compared to Waste Management.

John McGoran, manager of municipal services, Western PA area, for Republic, said the company has an office in Carnegie, and which answers its phones. A borough complaint about Waste Management was it did not respond to repeated phone calls.

Mr. McGoran said a mailer will be sent to residents in December outlining its services and contact information.

Borough council plans to vote on the new service in November.

Republic and Waste Management were the two bidders for the SHACOG trash collection contract.

To a question about why the borough does not recycle, Mrs. Michener said it cannot afford to do so. Republic offers the service but at an additional fee.

Since the borough has fewer than 5,000 residents, it is exempt from mandatory recycling.

Next, project manager Ricky Hopkinson said the Hilltop Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) has decided to return to economic development after focusing on events the last few years.

For instance, next summer’s focus will be on more housing and on green initiatives. But events are not going away.

At the November block group meeting, the group’s accomplishments will be discussed. Meetings are held the second Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in the fire hall.

In the mayor’s report for September, Mr. Cassidy said there were, among other statistics, 618 calls, 25 drug-related arrests, three DUI arrests, three burglaries, 40 domestics, and eight criminal mischief calls.

To view the complete police report, visit the borough website:

Also, the K-9 units were used 14 times, and the police served 15 arrest warrants.

Mrs. Michener said the police were doing “a terrific job.”

The department is still not up to full force, she said, which ideally would be 10 full-time and two part-time officers. However, the borough is in the process of hiring, and the 2014 plan is to have a full force.

Mr. Cassidy said residents are urged to call 911 when they witness suspicious behavior. They can remain anonymous, so there is no danger of retaliation, he said.

In the engineer’s report, Mrs. Michener said work is continuing on the Frederick St. subsidence problem.

In July, numerous houses on Frederick St. slid from their foundations due to an abandoned underground coal mine.

The borough received a $75,000 grant from the county to demolish all or some of the five condemned properties as a hindrance to others on Frederick St.

While there are at least 20 affected homes on the street, none is as bad as the five.

The end result is four owners accepted the county’s offer for demolition, while the other owner will be repairing his property.

Paving could not commence until the owners of the five condemned properties -- all rentals -- informed officials of their plans for their respective properties. Demolition must occur before the street is rebuilt.

The borough’s share of the cost of paving, asphalt curbs, and sidewalk in the excavation area will be about $41,000 for which it is seeking government assistance.

The borough will also pay $325 per house for asbestos inspections for the four homes prior to their demolition, which is mandatory.

Next, in the report about the borough’s new monthly newsletter, editor and Duquesne University student Kate Dillon said the current title is “Mt. Oliver Messenger.”

The publication will start at three to four pages, and contain news of Mt. Oliver and the Hilltop communities. There is no start date.

In the fire report, Mr. Cassidy said the volunteer fire department recently got five new members, not all of which are borough residents. All firefighters must be nationally certified before they can respond to a fire.

In the planning report, Deana Wuenschel said work has begun on the comprehensive plan.

In public safety, Councilman Darnell Sains said the police are having issues along the main corridor with businesses that are allowing undesirable activities around their businesses.

Council and the police chief will meet to decide how to attack the problem. The building owner will also attend the meeting.

Mr. Sains said he will report back on how it all works out.

In other public safety news, Mrs. Michener said six police officers took the Civil Service test, and passed. It is now legal to work in the borough under civil service, she said.

The borough will advertise it is hiring full-time officers, which could not be done prior to having civil service. There has not been civil service in the borough for decades.

Mrs. Michener said while the borough cannot pay officers $40 an hour like some nearby municipalities, it might give more to pensions or an extra personal day.

Council also budgeted for training for the police.

Police contract negotiations are underway at this time.

In the public works report, Mr. Sains said the borough’s new white pick-up truck will be detailed shortly.

Council approved $1,056 for the purchase of a manhole magnet to ease removing and replacing manhole covers.

The only traffic light owned by the borough, located at Ormsby Street and Hays Avenue, will cost $2,908 to repair damages from a July storm. The county will pay for the repairs.

Also damaged following the storm was the Transverse field house, which the insurance company attributed to normal wear-and-tear, and not the storm.

In the recreation report, Mr. Sains said he was not satisfied with the condition of the field after a football game two weeks ago, and informed the team’s program director.

Mrs. Michener said recreation concerns needs to be revisited, and a decision must be made on whether the football team will be invited back next year.

In the code enforcement report, there were 24 complaints, 26 rental inspections, nine citations, five occupancy inspections, one building permit, and 10 legal actions filed.

In the sewage report, letters were sent to the holders of 55 delinquent accounts owing more than $700. Water shut-offs will occur if payment is not made.

In November, letters will be sent to delinquents owing more than $200, with shut-offs following for nonpayment of the accounts.

In the solicitor’s report, it was announced the borough opened a new, $300,000 credit line that will help renovate the First National Bank building on the corner of Brownsville Rd. and Arlington Ave. that it purchased recently.

The borough administration will move into the new facility, allowing the police department to expand into the administration’s former space in the current Borough Building.

In other news, the Keystone Collections group is pursuing the $529,000 in delinquent real estate taxes owed the borough. There is no cost to the borough as the company’s fees are passed on to the delinquent taxpayers.

The next council meeting will be on Nov. 18.


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