By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

Changes made in borough public safety departments' personnel


Last updated 5/27/2021 at 8:16am

In a short May meeting, the Mt. Oliver Borough Council public meeting included news about personnel changes in the police and fire departments.

Missing from the meeting were councilmen Nick Viglione and Francis Heckmann along with Mayor Frank Bernardini. Councilman Paul Doyle joined the meeting in progress.

Ron Lowrey, representing the Mt. Oliver Fire Department, informed the council that Francis Kestner had resigned as chief of the fire company for personal reasons. He said Mr. Kestner had been considering stepping back from the position for some time.

However, he will remain a member of the volunteer fire company.

Mr. Kestner had been fire chief since 2007.

Mr. Lowrey will take over as interim chief until the fire company's reorganization meeting in June. At that time, he expected he would be made chief, a new lieutenant would be elected and all junior officers would move up according to procedures outlined in the fire company's bylaws.

Having worked closely with Mr. Kestner for more than a dozen year, Mr. Lowrey anticipated there wouldn't be any changes at the fire department. "it will be the same moving forward."

In the general Fire Report, there were 39 incidents in April: 16 were fire calls and 23 were EMS related.

The fire company is also putting together a committee to explore partnerships with their mutual aid companies. He said they started last year with accountability standards to use the same system for the incident command system.

"We're just looking to expand upon that and take it to the next level to have better cooperation between all the departments in the area," Mr. Lowrey said. "(We're) looking to try and get better services for everybody, for all the communities."

Council President Amber McGough said she wanted to thank Mr. Kestner for his years of service as chief and looked forward to working with Mr. Lowrey.

In other personnel matters, the council approved the hiring of Jennifer Steuernagel as a full-time police clerk. She will work under the supervision of the chief of police.

The council also accepted the resignations of police officers Tom Snyder and Stephen Beers.

Ms. McGough asked Police Chief Matt Juzwick to thank them for their time in Mt. Oliver as officers and wish them well in their next endeavors.

In further proceedings, the council approved a final payment to A. Folino in the amount of $21,906.35 for the 2020 Road Program.

Contracts were also awarded to:

State Pipe Services for the 2021 SHACOG Joint O&M Point Repairs – Year 10 in the amount of $41,695 with a borough share of $16,325.

State Pipe Services for the 2021 SHACOG Joint O&M Lining Project – Year 15 Contract A (spot lining) in the amount of $54,890 with a borough share of $27,710.

Jet Jack for 2021 SHACOG Joint O&M Lining Project – Year 15 Contract B (manhole to manhole lining) in the amount of $288,515 with a borough share of $8,680.

In other news, Borough Manager Rick Hopkinson said Highmark committed to being a partner in the Hilltop Economic Development Corporation's (HEDC) Neighborhood Partnership Program (NPP) application in the amount of $150,000 for six years. In their application, HEDC already had commitments from Northwest Bank and Fragasso Financial Advisors. The total committed for the application, at the time of the meeting, was $275,000 a year for six years.

The application includes commercial district investments, housing stabilization and social services. As an all-volunteer organization, the HEDC will be partnering with the Hilltop Alliance and The Brashear Association to provide services.

The NPP is a tax credit program through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

Before adjourning for the evening, Mr. Hopkinson was asked about the status of the Auberle Family Healing Center in the former Mt. Oliver School building. He replied Auberle has resumed working on the building under its original building permit. The building inspector continues to work with them on the inspections required under the permit.

He said Auberle is expecting completion by the end of the year, but wouldn't be surprised if the construction timeline got pushed back.


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