By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Business as usual at May meeting of the Mt. Oliver Borough Council


Last updated 6/27/2019 at 9:16am

Upcoming social events were among the topics at the June 17 meeting of Mt. Oliver Council.

Council members Aaron Graham and Barbara Keener were absent.

The meeting began with the public safety report for May delivered by Mayor Frank Bernardini.

He reported there were 715 total calls for service, and 45 drug arrests, the latter for the seizure of marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, and drug paraphernalia. Mr. Bernardini said the total is expected to go up with summer here.

There was one burglary on Giffin Ave. of money, which was solved, a robbery on Hays Ave. and three DUI arrests in the borough.

The K-9 units were used 39 times, including for drug searches, arrests, park-and-walks, targeted patrols, tracking, and a warrant service. Eleven warrants were served by the police department.

The police responded to eight commercial alarms and 13 residential alarms.

Parking Enforcement wrote 96 borough tickets, while the Police Department wrote 12 borough tags. There were 33 state citations issued for parking violations.

The total collected for payment of fines for tickets issued in May was $915. The total paid in magistrate ordered fines was $295.

All police equipment is operating properly.

A total of 79 arrests were made during May.

Mr. Bernardini also reported 19 shots were fired into a rental house on Giffin Ave., putting it at the top of the nuisance properties list.

"We have to stop this kind of stuff," Councilman Nick Viglione said.

The mayor concluded his report with his remembrance of Marty Palma, who died recently. He said the former council president "served Mt. Oliver borough honorably and with respect."

"Marty was able to resolve a problem before it escalated.

 "His insight will be missed," Mr. Bernardini said.

Next, in the fire report for May read by council President Amber McGough, there were 59 total incidents, of which 48 were for EMS and 11 were fire related. The average response time, lights and siren, from dispatch to arrival is five minutes 30 seconds for EMS, and seven minutes 27 seconds for fire.

In the planning report, Deana Wuenschel said the meeting to update ordinances was moved to next month.

In the code enforcement report for May, borough manager and code enforcement officer Rick Hopkinson reported there were 111 violations, with 65 open cases year-to-date.

There were seven hearings in front of District Magistrate Richard King.

Twenty-one rental licenses were issued for 37 units, and 38 rental applications were mailed out for licenses expiring June 30.

Two occupancy permits and two building permits were issued.

He also reported the Property Stabilization Committee cleaned up a vacant lot at Stamm and Walnut on May 15.

In zoning news, council voted 5-0 to accept the resignation of Sharon Stadler from the Zoning Hearing Board.

In the public safety report, Councilman Justin Viale reported the police department will be advertising for a test in August for a full-time position.

The fire department, in conjunction with the Option Independent Fire Co., will hold a Sportsmen's Bash fundraiser on September 14. 

It will be held at the Braddock VFD #2 Social Hall. There will be free off-street parking and free food and drink. Doors open at noon.

Animal Friends will be giving pet vaccines at the borough fire department on July 21. Cash only.

In the public works report for May, Councilman David Lowe reported routine facility maintenance was conducted, including emptying trash, cleaning/sweeping, and re-stocking supplies.

Trash cans were emptied three times per week in the business district, and TVs, tires, and debris were picked up throughout the borough.

A stop sign was replaced at Hervey and Margaret. A stop sign was repaired at Locust and Walnut streets. Old sign posts were painted and refurbished.

Pot holes were patched around the borough.

In Transverse and Ormsby parks, workers emptied trash cans/spot swept three times per week. Grass maintenance was conducted. Maintenance was performed on the following right of ways: Hays Ext., Sunoco Steps, and Gas House Steps.

In sanitary/storm sewer maintenance, inlets were cleaned throughout the borough. One dye test was performed.

Council did not approve an application for handicap parking on Carl St. as there is off-street parking.

In the economic development report, the "Cruising into Summer Street Fair" will be held from 2 - 7 p.m. on July 20 in the 100-200 blocks of Brownsville Rd. It will feature a classic car cruise by Beckman Motors.

The event will include a live DJ, food/drink, games, vendors, activities for children like face painting and more.

It will be hosted by the borough and the Mt. Oliver Area Business Owners Association.

Mr. Hopkinson said the borough newsletter is completed, and will be mailed soon. It includes information on the open burning ordinance, which was discussed recently at a council meeting after a resident complained about her neighbors' fire pit on their porch.

In resolutions and ordinances, council voted 5 - 0 to amend its Personnel Policies and Procedures manual to now read that: "under no circumstances shall a borough employee be permitted to use borough tools, equipment and supplies for their own personal use."

Council also voted to appoint John Prokop to fill a vacancy on the borough's Disruptive Property Appeals Board for a one-year term from Jan. 1, 2019, to Jan. 1, 2020.

In unfinished business, an attendee asked the status of the former Mt. Oliver School building, which is scheduled to house the Auberle Family Healing Center.

Mr. Hopkinson said the property has not transferred yet.

Under Auberle's substance use disorder program proposed for placement in the borough, families impacted by a caregiver's addiction will move into one of the facility's apartments for four to six months with treatment focused on everyone challenged by that addiction.

Mr. Bernardini has repeatedly expressed his opposition to the plan, stating the police department is overloaded with all of the drug activity in the borough. He is also concerned for public safety as numerous school busses drop off students by the Hays and Ormsby intersection, or very near the proposed facility.

The mayor said on June 6 he and Mr. Viglione, who also opposes the plan, met with Congressman Mike Doyle and officials of Auberle and Action Housing.

The mayor told them he wanted an itemized list of what they said they would do, like make repairs and safety improvements and pay school taxes, and they agreed.

He said if there are any problems, he would be on it. Mr. Doyle said he, too, would get involved.

"We had it shoved down our throats. Any government program is a no-win situation going in," Mr. Bernardini said.

Mr. Viglione said youngsters "broke out" of a similar facility in Latrobe and stole cars. He told attendees to remember the inaction of local officials at election time.

In the question-and-answer segment which concludes meetings, a resident commented that Hays Ave. looks good now, and asked about Ormsby Ave.

Mr. Hopkinson said Ormsby is on the list for paving. He said he did not want to pave it if the water company was planning to tear it up again. But if that does not happen the paving will occur next year.

To a question if calls for officers to a domestic situation constitute a nuisance property, police Chief Matt Juzwick said no, as otherwise domestic victims would be fearful of calling for help.

He said if neighbors call, it will be up to the officers to decide if it constitutes a "nuisance."

The borough now has a Nuisance Property Board to deal with problem properties.

The last question was about the Free Personal Wills Program of the Hilltop Alliance for qualifying Hilltop homeowners, age 50 or older.

The purpose is to ensure their homes have a defined heir who will more easily be able to gain control of the properties and possibly receive financial assistance for home improvements after their loved one has died.

The Hilltop Alliance has found such properties fell into a state of disrepair after the owners of record died without having the legal framework in place to transfer ownership to a defined heir.

The next council meeting will be on July 15.


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