South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smykla
Contributing Writer 

'New' is the word of the day for Mt. Oliver Council


“New” was the focus of the Dec. 16 meeting of Mt. Oliver council: the borough’s new monthly newsletter; and for 2014: a new garbage service, four new full-time police officers, and two new council members.

The evening began with Mayor James Cassidy swearing in a new Zoning Board member: Christina Reft, for a term ending Jan., 2015.

In his report, project manager Ricky Hopkinson distributed drafts of the borough’s new monthly newsletter, “Mt. Oliver Times.”

When it is finalized later this month, copies will available on-line and at various borough sites.

The editor is Duquesne University student Kate Dillon. To contact her with stories ideas, email

The six-page publication contains news of Mt. Oliver and the Hilltop communities. The December issue topics include the borough’s 2014 budget, reconstruction of Ormsby Park, communal garden in Transverse Park, and the Hilltop Alliance annual summit.

Mr. Hopkinson also reported the borough was approved for a $95,000 grant for Ormsby Park. Green space, playground safety features, benches, and pavilions will be added. A community garden at Transverse Park is also in the works.

In the police report for November, Mr. Cassidy said there were 565 calls answered, 22 narcotics arrests, three DUI arrests, and more. To view the complete police report, visit the borough website:

All the police’s equipment is up and running, he said.

In the engineer’s report, council President Billie Michener said Frederick St. was paved, and the street reopened to traffic. Council then voted to pay the borough’s share of the cost of paving, asphalt curbs, and sidewalk in the excavation area of $41,000.

In July, numerous houses on Frederick St. slid from their foundations due to an abandoned underground coal mine. The borough received a county grant to demolish all or some of the five condemned properties.

Four owners accepted the county’s offer, and will be demolished, most likely in February, while the other owner will be repairing his property.

In his report, ordinance officer Steve Wilharm said there were 276 snow violations. Residents have 24 hours to clear snow from the sidewalks in front of their home or risk being cited.

Citations may also be issued for residents who shovel the snow onto streets.

Councilman Darnell Sains said some businesses are putting their garbage in borough cans on the street. Mr. Wilharm said he would send letters to businesses informing them that is a violation.

He will also send a letter to businesses and owners of multiple-unit residential properties about getting a private hauler.

In the fire report, Mr. Cassidy said there were no major calls in November.

However, due to Christmas lighting which may be old and faulty, December is a high fire month. Anyone with doubts about their lighting should call 911, and fire department members will come by and check on it.

In the public safety report, 79 borough citations were issued for parking violations, with $865 collected.

From Dec. 16--25, there will be free parking at the meters to encourage shopping in the business district.

Mr. Sains also reported that an officer will be returning to the police force from medical leave on Jan. 3. He will take the civil service test in a few months.

To a question about police staffing from Mrs. Michener, Acting Chief Matthew Juzwick said there will be five interviews next month, from which four full-time officers will be hired. Two more part-time officers are also needed.

In the public works report, Councilman Corey McGough said the prior day, the new dump truck was involved in an accident with an illegally parked car. No one was hurt. The car was damaged, with light damage to the truck.

The acting chief said he would look into towing the car as it reportedly has multiple violations including having and expired inspection sticker.

Council next voted 6-0, with Mrs. Michener abstaining, to adopt a carpenter’s union agreement with the public works employees. Its highlights include slight raises and an extra personal day.

In the recreation report, Mr. Sains briefly discussed a recent summit in Mt. Oliver aimed at forming an alliance of the youth programs in the area. Attendees included representatives of Potter’s House Ministries, The Lighthouse, Pittsburgh Christian Fellowship, and Voices Against Violence.

The goal is to involve youngsters in athletics, after-school programs, summer activities and more, to foster discipline and provide structure.

“It will take a lot of kids off the street,” he said.

Funding is being sought from the Brashear Association and Birmingham Foundation.

Councilwoman Barbara Keener, who attended the summit with Mr. Sains, said she heard about a lot of activities she did not know were available in Mt. Oliver.

The January issue of “Mt. Oliver Times” will include a list of such services open to all borough youngsters.

In the code enforcement report, there were five complaints, 78 rental units inspected, five citations, two new businesses, and six legal actions filed.

In the Waste Management report, Republic Services will be the borough’s garbage service, beginning in January for five years. It replaces Waste Management, whose contract is up at year’s end.

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

Landlords, and not the tenants, will receive the quarterly bills.

A mailer will be sent to residents soon by Republic outlining its services and contact information.

Councilman Dave Lowe said 184 accounts may have their water shut off by Jordan Tax Services this month for non-payment of sewage bills. About $250,000 is owed the borough from the delinquent accounts.

Mr. Lowe said the borough will work with those delinquents who are behind due to sickness or other problems.

In the solicitor’s report, council voted to raise the rental license fee from $50 per unit to $75.

In the public comment, a resident asked what happens if a resident does not pay their garbage bill. Mrs. Michener said the borough will make the payment so the garbage is picked up, and then bill the resident.

A resident next complained cockroaches have infested the apartment building next to his home. He is afraid they will migrate to his house.

Mrs. Michener said the county Health Department will be contacted, and will bring roach traps.

At the meeting’s conclusion, Mr. Sains reminded everyone it was Councilwoman Christine Brendel’s final council meeting. Applause followed for her eight years of service.

Council’s reorganization meeting, with new council members Nicholas Viglione and Frank Bernardini, will be held at 7 p.m. on Jan. 6.

Vanessa Talley, who was on the ballot and won, no longer lives in the borough. If she is not at the Jan. 6 meeting, council will contact the Elections Bureau about their next step.

Lastly, the borough will absorb the 17 percent raise in Alcosan rates so residents won’t feel the increase.

The next council meeting will be on Jan. 20.


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