South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Michener walks out of boro council meeting, Sains new vice-pres.

McGough appointed to McGough’s seat


Last updated 5/26/2014 at 5:20pm

The May 19 meeting of Mt. Oliver council featured a new council member, new council vice-president, and an early exit by council president Billie Michener.

The meeting began with Mrs. Michener nominating Councilwoman Barbara Keener for vice-president.

The position arose last month when Vice-president Corey McGough resigned from council to take a full-time laborer’s position in the public works department.

After no one seconded the motion on Mrs. Keener, Councilman Frank Bernardini nominated Councilman Darnell Sains, who was then elected vice-president, 5-1.

Mrs. Michener, who dissented in the vote, said she chose Mrs. Keener for her level of stepping up to the plate and helping her with projects.

She said the position is one she needs to call on. As council does not feel Mrs. Keener can do the job, she will call Mr. Sains and expect things to be done.

She said she would also be reassigning committees.

To her point of expecting things to be done, Mr. Sains said there were some issues he did not partake in as he did not have the expertise. With some issues, a professional needs to step in.

He said when he is called in and does not have the expertise, he will step off, and expects other council members to do the same.

Mrs. Michener said her fellow council members feel they can do a better job.

She said she would adjourn the meeting because of a “hostile environment” and not respecting the president. She then made a motion to adjourn, and left the meeting.

In her absence, no one seconded the motion to adjourn, so the meeting proceeded.

“This is not a dictatorship,” Mr. Bernardini said.

As vice-president, it fell to Mr. Sains to conduct the meeting.

“I don’t believe in a lot of her choices, but I have belief in her presidency and where she has taken this borough,” he said of Mrs. Michener.

The issue quickly arose about the vacancy created by the resignation of Mr. McGough.

As it was a personnel matter, council adjourned to an executive session for 30 minutes.

Afterwards, Mr. Sains said of three candidates for the open seat, one was disqualified, one reconsidered, and another applied late.

By default, the choice became Amber McGough, by a 5-0 vote, to assume her husband’s former seat. To accept the post, she resigned from the borough’s Civil Service Commission.

Prior to being sworn in by Mayor James Cassidy, she was given a notary form to be returned within 24 hours stating she lived in the borough for at least a year.

Mrs. McGough, 33, works full-time for UPMC as a compliance administrator.

As for why she sought the seat, she said as she attends all the meetings, she might as well help out.

In his report, project manager Ricky Hopkinson said the Mt. Oliver Business Owners Association (BOA) will hold its next meeting at 4:30 p.m. on May 29 in the borough building.

Decorative banners containing photos of the clock tower will soon be hanging along Brownsville Rd. For $50, business owners can have their names printed on the banner in front of their businesses.

Business owners should call 412-431-8107, extension 106, by May 28 to order a banner.

The Keystone Collections Group collected $2,000 in delinquent real estate taxes in April, raising its 2014 total to about $35,000.

There is no cost to the borough as the company’s fees are passed on to the delinquent taxpayers.

In his grant update, Mr. Hopkinson said $10,000 was received from the PNC Foundation for Ormsby Park Phase II improvements.

An application was submitted to the Gaming Economic Development Fund for $500,000 for the Brownsville Road streetscape.

In other news, he said last week’s planting in the community garden drew about 60 to 70 volunteers.

The borough has also begun the process to demolish a vacant, dilapidated apartment building on Anthony St., and hopefully by the end of summer the demolition will be completed.

In the police report for April, Mr. Cassidy said there were 683 police calls, 55 domestic calls, two accident reports, nine criminal mischief calls, five fights, 16 community-oriented police details, and 58 drug-related arrests with guns often confiscated.

Of those 58 arrests, 24 were based on traffic stops, which is why there are often multiple police cars at stops he explained.

The Mt. Oliver Police also issued an arrest warrant for a Megan’s Law offender.

Acting Chief Matthew Juzwick said two bicycle officers finished training last week, and are expected to be on the road within a few weeks.

Council then voted to approve a series of purchases for the police department:

Three new tasers for a total of $3,574. Tasers are usually good for five years, and the current ones are eight years old.

Replace two shotguns for a total of $1,087. The two shotguns being replaced will be sold to the officers who use them at $150 each, with those proceeds going toward the purchase of the new shotguns.

Two new laptops for cars for a total of $4,512. Most of the funding will come from $3,500 in grant money to be used for laptops only.

Three new radios with speakers for a total of $2,688. The ages of the current radios range from 6 to 12 years.

“Radios are one of the most important things we carry,” Acting Chief Juzwick said.

In his report for May, ordinance officer Steve Wilharm said there were 143 violations, one state citation, and 36 borough citations.

There were also 84 violation letters sent, with most for high grass. Sixteen of the 84 violations were for vacant properties.

To view the engineering report, it is available in the borough offices.

In the fire report, assistant chief Ron Lowrey of the Mt. Oliver Hook and Ladder Co. said donations in the annual fund drive are trickling in, for a total so far of $5,500.

The company also received its annual state fire grant for $12,000, which will go toward the ladder track payment.

There were no serious fire calls in April.

Beginning April 14, the fire company started responding on all priority medical calls within the borough.

The fire company responds with Pittsburgh EMS to either assist them, or start initial treatment in the event one of the EMS units is coming from a distance or is delayed in responding.

Mr. Lowrey said the fire company is averaging two to three medical calls a day.

To a question from Mr. Sains about a recent large fire in Dormont, he said in SHACOG (South Hills Area Council of Governments) there are 20 mutual aid agreements. Mt. Oliver responded to the Dormont fire as a third alarm.

In the planning report, Deana Wuenschel said she and Mr. Hopkinson are applying for a grant to pay for the engineer to help with the borough’s comprehensive plan.

In the public works report, Mr. Sains said the goal is to have lines painted on Brownsville Rd. before the Sixth Annual “Cruisin’ on the Hilltop” on June 21 along the 100-300 blocks of Brownsville Rd.

The event will feature car cruise, sidewalk sales, oldies band, kids’ games, and more.

Classic cars are sought as are vendors. A table is $25.

Mrs. Keener said new this year will be magic shows during breaks by the band. The magician will also make balloon figures for youngsters.

In the parks and recreation report, Mr. Bernardini said he is working on having representatives of the Armed Forces at “Cruisin’ on the Hilltop.” He is also interested in reviving the borough’s sports program.

In the code enforcement report for April 17 to May 9, there were 11 complaints, one zoning permit, 21 rental inspections (65 units), five building permits, three occupancies, 17 violation notices, one citation, and two legal actions filed.

In the waste/sewage report, Councilman Dave Lowe reported 321 residents did not pay their garbage bills the past two months, costing the borough $14,007.

When residents do not pay, taxpayer money is used to ensure all garbage is collected.

The Keystone Collections Group will go after payment to recoup the taxpayers’ money.

He also reported there were 26 water shutoffs for those with over $500 in delinquent sewage accounts.

All of those whose water was shut off have either reconciled their accounts, or are on a payment plan.

In public hearings, a resident complained about the worn and crumbling curb on Church Ave., which endangers his property.

Mr. Sains said it is on the list to be repaired, but he could not give a definite date when that will occur.

In the question-and-answer session, a resident said something needs to be done about all the potholes on West Way.

Mr. Sains said it will be looked into.

Another resident said that all of the work on the community garden the prior week would never have happened without all the efforts of Mr. Hopkinson.

In unfinished business, council voted to spend $13,667 to repair the roof on the field house at Transverse Park.

In new business, the borough received four applications for three part-time public works hires; two applications for the parking officer position; and two applications for tax collector.

The public works hires are budgeted; phone interviews will be conducted. Formal interviews will be scheduled for the parking and tax collector positions.

The next council meeting will be on June 16.


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