South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Borough changes solicitors, updates on holiday events


Last updated 11/29/2017 at 8:48pm

A change of borough solicitors, a new contract for the police chief, and details on the holiday decorating contest headlined the Nov. 20 meeting of Mt. Oliver council.

The new borough solicitor, effective Jan. 1, 2018, will be GRB, or Goehring, Rutter & Boehm. The law firm will replace Deron Gabriel.

According to borough manager Rick Hopkinson, council put out an RFP, or request for proposal, in September after deciding to go in a different direction. The RFP brought in five proposals, including from the current solicitor.

He said GRB was selected for its “vast experience” in the field of municipal law, and its overall fit with borough officials and staff. The borough also used the firm in the past for special blight counsel.

“We wanted to take the borough in a different direction – bigger firm, and get quicker action,” council Vice-president Nick Viglione said after the meeting.

The vote to hire GRB was 4-3, with Mr. Viglione, Tina Reft, David Beltz, and Justin Viale voting in favor.

Council members President Amber McGough, Barbara Keener, and David Lowe opposed the action. Prior to the vote, Mrs. McGough said council should wait until the reorganization meeting to vote.

“The vote can be challenged because Dave Beltz will not be a councilman in January,” she said. But the majority wanted to vote that evening.

Regarding the new, three-year contract for police Chief Matt Juzwick, it contains a one-and-a-half percent increase each year; five percent healthcare contribution; and a sick day buy-back program at 25 percent of the base pay.

The Third Annual Holiday Decorating Contest will be held on Dec. 21, with judging at 7 p.m. Prizes will be awarded for these categories: traditional, Griswold, and themed.

Submit entries to new code enforcement officer Tom McAllister at 412-431-8107 extension 102, or email

Also in the holiday spirit, there will be free parking in the borough from Dec. 18 to Dec. 22.

The meeting began with two loyalty oaths administered by Mayor James Cassidy.

The first oath was for new Patrolman Andrew Guerriero.

The other oath was for Mr. McAllister, who was hired at last month’s council meeting to replace the retiring Chuck Knaus. Mr. McAllister will work 30-35 hours per week.

Mr. Knaus, who worked for the borough since 2011, served as code enforcement officer and building inspector.

Mr. McAllister’s probationary period of employment will be 180 days as council voted last month to extend the probationary period for newly hired non-uniform employees from 90 to 180 days.

In the police report for October, there were 649 total calls and 49 drug-related arrests, the latter for the seizure of marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, and drug paraphernalia.

The report also noted eight accident reports, seven domestic calls, five criminal mischief calls, and 10 fights. Burglaries occurred on Hays Ave., Brownsville Rd., Williams St., Moye Place, and Fredrick St.

The police served nine arrest warrants. Borough police also arrested a male on Rochelle St. for illegally possessing a handgun, and arrested a male on Arlington Ave. and Fredrick St. for fleeing and eluding officers during a DUI.

The K-9 units were used 44 times, including for park-and-walks, drug search, drug arrests, tracking, crowd control, demonstration, warrant service, article searches, building searches, traffic stops, and targeted patrols.

All police computers are up and running. All surveillance cameras are operating properly.

 In the engineer’s report, the 2017 closed-circuit TV project was awarded to Robinson Pipe Cleaning Co., with a borough share of $17,875.50. The work began the week of Sept. 3 and is complete.

Council voted 7-0 is approve payment number 1 to Robinson Pipe for $11,453.41 for the work completed to date.

Council also voted 7-0 to approve payment number 1 to Independent Enterprises for $204,260.64 for work performed on the Anthony St. sewer project.

Next, in the report of the borough’s volunteer fire company for October, there were 42 EMS incidents and 11 fire incidents. Mutual aid was given five times and received three times.

In borough financial news, 80 percent of the property tax has been collected so far, which is average at this time of year. About $701,869 has been collected of a total due of $878,074.

In the code enforcement report for Oct. 26 to Nov. 9 from Mr. McAllister, there were 17 violations, 13 complaints received, six legal actions, and two condemnations.

Any resident who would like Mr. Allister to check out an address should complete a form at the administrative offices. Residents may remain anonymous.

In public works, Councilman Justin Viale reported that last month department employees: patched potholes, winterized trucks, winterized the two parks, removed dead animals, worked on blighted properties, and more.

In economic development, the new Property Stabilization Committee meets the third Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. at 212 Brownsville Rd. Everyone is invited.

The committee is a subcommittee of the Hilltop Economic Development Corp., and was formed in response to community concern about absentee landlords and blighted properties.

The Second Annual Up on the Hilltop celebration will be held from noon to 3 p.m. on Sat., Dec. 2, in the 100-200 blocks of Brownsville Rd. The street will be closed to traffic. There will be free parking.

The free event will feature Santa Claus, crafts, music, and more.

In the questions and answers segment which concludes meetings, a resident asked why a representative from the fire department does not attend meetings and answer questions.

Mrs. McGough said a representative has been attending agenda meetings. But the issue will be revisited in January, she said.

The next council meeting will be on Dec. 18.


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