DuBOIS — City officials have been gratified by the response to a story in Tri-County Sunday concerning a recent water rate increase for certain Sandy Township customers.
The state Public Utility Commission gave the city permission to increase rates to Sandy Township by 35 cents per 1,000 gallons, raising the rate from $5.15 to $5.50 per 1,000 gallons.
The township increased rates by $3.67 per 1,000, making the total charge $16 per 1,000 gallons.
Councilman Ed Walsh said he’s “gotten a ton of calls” over the story and Councilman Randy Schmidt said he’s gotten numerous calls and comments, too. “Lots of people didn’t understand the situation,” he said.
For his part, Suplizio said, “We’re just stating the facts,” adding that for those who don’t believe the city’s version, the PUC can verify the rate increase it approved.
Downtown DuBois Revitalization Group President Julie Stewart told the council that all the group’s committees are fully functioning, as is the board of directors. The financials and budget, while modest, “are in the black” and a reorganization is underway.
Part of that effort will result in hiring a full-time manager, as opposed to two staff members sharing the duties. Stewart said, in reply to a question from Walsh, that the starting salary will probably be in the $27,000 to $30,000 range.
Focusing on economic development in the downtown will be a priority for the group, as will forming partnerships with city government, employers, media, county and regional economic development agencies and others.
The other officers are Kay Boyd-Rowe of First Commonwealth Bank, vice president; Dr. Chris Shaw, optometrist, secretary; Linda Crandall, Merle Norman Boutique, treasurer; and directors Megan Baummer of S&T Bank, Matt Checcio of Penn State University, Michael Federici of DuSan Ambulance Service, M. Scott McBride, Penn State DuBois, Dori Samanka of Trousseaux Bridal and Eddie Tate of Luigi’s Ristorante.
The council adopted resolutions of condolence for former Councilman Jack “Swede” Peterson and former city employee and city Treasurer Lance Marshall.
It also held a moment of silence for Peterson, Marshall and former city employee Joe Kruckow.
Of Marshall, Stewart said he was “very instrumental” when the downtown redevelopment group was formed. He served as the city’s Redevelopment Authority director for 19 years. He was also health, code and zoning officer for 11 years, water plant operator for two years and sewage treatment plan operator for six years.
Suplizio echoed Stewart’s compliment and added that his family is “in our thoughts and prayers.”
Peterson was public works superintendent in 1999-2000 and a councilman from January 1996 to December 1997.
The Main Street project will be advertised for bid. The project will include curbing, stormwater management, paving, sidewalks and lighting.
Suplizio called it “a big deal” and said, once finished, Main Street will look as good as West Long Avenue.
He added a special thanks to state Sen. Joe Scarnati, for “all he’s done for this area and very, very much for what he’s done for DuBois.”
The council approved a recommendation from the Watershed Committee to begin a timber management program on the well property.
Committee Chairman Brian Sekula noted in a memo to the council that, “There is a sizable amount of undesirable tree species now on the property … we suggest that a program of removal of the undesirable trees (largely consisting of beech and stripped maple) be undertaken to allow desirable species such as oak and maple to seed into the areas.”
The program will not provide large income in the short term, Sekula continued.
Mayor Gary Gilbert added that a reforested property could offer profitable timber opportunities someday.
The council is expected to appoint a new controller at its next regular meeting. The position is vacant as a result of the election of Lisa LaBrasca Becker to the city treasurer’s post. The council interviewed two prospective candidates Monday: George Kutsel and Shane Dietz.
The council passed the second and final reading of Council Bill 1929, which authorizes the city to incur non-electoral debt in conjunction with the purchase of a new Freightliner truck with plow and spreader. The amount of debt, as part of a grant/loan package from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is not to exceed $181,000.
The council’s next work session will convene at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18. The next regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22. Meetings are held in council chambers in the city building on West Long Avenue.
DuBOIS — Just days before Linda Fisher’s birthday, she and husband Ron Fisher received a call informing them that they had won a new a car. On Tuesday, a week before the couple’s anniversary, their 2018 Ford Escape was delivered.
“We still can’t believe it,” Ron Fisher said. “We’re excited.”
The couple won their new ride through a fundraiser they entered at Eat’n Park supporting the company’s annual Caring for Kids Campaign. Their ticket was drawn randomly from a pool of more than 45,000 submitted by participating restaurants.
Caring for Kids is an annual fundraising effort organized by Eat’n Park to benefit children’s hospitals. It has raised more than $10 million since 1979.
It ran in 2017 from late October to mid-December, raising $402,160. Its local beneficiary this year was Penn Highlands DuBois.
Although the Fishers paid just a few dollars to enter the drawing, they came out of it with a car for which Kelley Blue Book lists a fair purchase price of $23,828. It was donated to the campaign by the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Ford Stores, and supplied by Murray’s Ford Lincoln in DuBois.
Eighty-one Ford dealerships participated in the fundraiser, owner Greg Murray said.
“We’re just so glad this program has culminated in somebody winning here locally in DuBois,” he said.
JAMES CITY — State police are investigating an assault and shooting that occurred on Mosier Road in Highland Township, Elk County, Sunday evening.
According to Ridgway-based state police, sometime between 5:30 and 6 p.m. Sunday, the victim, who was not named, was driving on Mosier Road when a vehicle traveling behind him began to flash its high beams.
When the victim stopped his vehicle and got out, he was met by a man who began to assault him. The victim reported hearing a gunshot, and then two other men began to assault him as well. During the fight, the victim was cut with a knife or razor across the forehead and in the rib area.
He later found a bullet hole through his jacket.
Police say the suspects are three white men. They were traveling in what the victim thought was an older Ford truck.
Police continue to investigate the incident. Anyone with information is asked to contact state police at Ridgway at (814) 776-6136.
ST. MARYS — Could the St. Marys Area School District soon have its own spokesperson? There’s no official answer to that question yet, but members of the district’s board of directors discussed the idea during a regular meeting Monday night.
Toward the end of the meeting, Board President Eric Wonderling asked other board members if they would be consider the creation of a position in the district for a communications director. An official in that capacity, he said, could help spread word of the positive occurrences within the district’s schools.
Wonderling also said that a communications director could aid in the creation of an alumni association, which the district currently does not have. Other members of the board seemed interested in the idea, though they did have their questions.
“Is this a position that’s typical of a school system of our size?” Board Member James Condon asked.
Wonderling deferred to Superintendent J. Brian Toth, who said that some districts of St. Marys’ size do have the position, and that they are common in larger districts. Responding to a question from Board Member Stacy McKee, Toth also said that he has previously worked at districts that employed such a person.
Toth said that in his experience, such positions deal not only in general communications but with fundraising as well.
“It’s a possibility that that position can end up paying for itself,” Toth said.
Lewis Murray, who was appointed to the board last week, asked Wonderling if a communications would be working with students or focusing on outreach; Wonderling said it would focus more on the latter.
Wonderling also said that a communications director could act as something of a liaison between the district and the press. He clarified, though, that he had no official job description in mind, saying that he hoped Toth would know what that might entail.
Toth said that he would be happy to research what such a role might look like for presentation at a future board meeting.
“It never hurts to check it out,” he said.
BROCKWAY — With the passing of Councilman Floyd Work and the departures of Jim Jackson and Ken Inzana, the Brockway Borough Council started 2018 by swearing in new members Armando Fortunato III and Ed Horner.
Horner was recently a member of the council, ending his previous term in 2015. He and Fortunato join Chis Benson, who was elected council president, Brian Buesink, who was elected vice president, Mike Martino, Rich Renwick, and Mayor Bill Hrinya.
Jackson and Inzana remain active in the community. Jackson is focusing on his work with the historical society while Inzana continues with the recreation board.
The brief 2018 reorganizational meeting also included signing a renewal agreement with Advanced Disposal for collection of garbage. The rates and services remain the same in 2018.
The next borough council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 1 at the borough building.