News Briefs

Education funding urged
A resolution approved by the Northgate School Board will be sent to the state legislature, urging representatives to maintain state funding for schools.

"They're talking about giving us less money than they did last year," said superintendent Dr. Reggie Bonfield at the school board's committee of the whole meeting on Monday. "Hopefully that won't happen."

Team elimination?
Northgate could eliminate its ninth grade boys' basketball team in an effort to bolster the school's varsity program.

School board athletic committee chairman Dave Natale said at the Sept. 14 committee of the whole meeting that head varsity coach Kevin McKiernan had requested that the ninth grade team be eliminated and those players absorbed into the junior varsity/varsity teams.

Natale said that because of how few players joined the varsity/JV program last year, several boys ended up playing both JV and varsity, putting in two full games of play each game night and arguably decreasing their effectiveness in the varsity games.

Participation in the ninth grade team last year also was low, Natale said.

The board will wait to make a decision until after students sign up for winter sports sometime in October.

"Everything hinges on numbers right now," Natale said.

Boulevard widening
The widening of Route 65, Ohio River Boulevard, in the North Boroughs will continue into Avalon, with utility work expected to begin as soon as Oct. 1.

The state project was abandoned after completion of the Bellevue portion of the highway, with the state citing a lack of funds. Federal stimulus money put the project back on the active list, however.

Avalon borough manager Harry Dilmore said that utility companies have been given until May 15 to move all electrical, gas, water and sewer lines to the river side of Route 65. That will include moving all utility poles as well, he said.

Traffic restrictions are to be expected during the work this fall and winter, with lane closures occurring while lines are excavated and repositioned.

Dilmore said that the finished project will include new street lights, traffic lights and sidewalks along Ohio River Boulevard in Avalon.

Sewer easement needed
Ben Avon Borough Council has been asked to allow a home in Kilbuck Township to connect to one of the borough’s sewer lines.

Don Lewis asked council, at its meeting on Tuesday, for an easement to allow a sewer line to be installed from a home on Perrysville Avenue in Kilbuck to one of the borough’s sewer lines. Lewis said that he was representing Catherine Johnston, who owns the property.

Lewis told council members that they are trying to sell the home and have a buyer already lined up. He noted that the house currently has a septic tank.

Lewis said that a bank that would be financing the house for the buyers is requiring the property owners to install a sewer line. He said that dye tests had been done at the home, which revealed a small leak in the septic system, and the bank would not accept the sale until the problem was corrected.

According to Lewis, the closest sewer line is one owned by Ben Avon. He told officials that the homeowner is prepared to pay for the work to be done, but needs an easement because the line would need to be dug through a Ben Avon-owned lot.

Lewis said that the buyer is on a tight time frame. He said that she is trying to close on the home by Oct. 26, and added that the work will take approximately two weeks to complete.

Borough engineer Ed McGee said that he already had reviewed the plans and said that it was "perfectly feasible to do." He noted that an agreement between the property owners and the borough to pay for the sewage removal would still need to be worked out.

Council president Ken Opipery Jr. said that any costs for borough resources during the planning process also would have to be included in those fees.

Council will hold a special meeting on Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. to consider approval of the easement.

Trick or treat
Trick or treating in Avalon and Ben Avon will be held Saturday, Oct. 31, from 6 until 8 p.m.

The times were approved by both councils at their meetings last Tuesday.

Zoning code adopted
The Tri-Boro Joint Zoning Code has received the final approval necessary to put it into effect for the boroughs of Avalon, Bellevue and Ben Avon.

The third and final reading of the ordinance was approved unanimously by Avalon Council at its Sept. 15 meeting. The necessary ordinances were approved last month by the councils in Ben Avon and Bellevue.

Council member Albert Wurst was absent.

Police contract extended
Ben Avon Council unanimously passed an ordinance extending its contract with Ohio Township for police services at its meeting on Sept. 15.

The contract is for three years. For the first year of services (2010), Ben Avon will pay Ohio Township $220,749. The 2011 year will cost $228,912, and the final year (2012) will cost $237,382.

Council members Todd Smith and Lloyd Corder were absent.

Road repair funding
The final steps to obtain funding for the road repairs underway in Avalon Borough will be taken at a special meeting on Sept. 22.

At its Sept. 15 regular meeting, the borough council unanimously approved the first two readings of an ordinance authorizing a $780,000 low interest loan through the state. The third and final reading of the ordinance will come at the special meeting next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

The money will be used to pay for street repaving and reconstruction currently underway. According to borough engineer Shawn Rosensteel, the contractor expects to finish the work by the end of next week.

Some of the money will be set aside for the repair of brick streets, including Jackman Avenue. Also on the potential to-do list is Semple Avenue, which council member Dan Sefick said has been damaged by trucks traveling to the borough's dump.

Sefick said that residents of the street were upset about the dirt that has blown out of trucks and the damage to the street from the heavy trucks.

Borough manager Harry Dilmore said that the cost of the road project was reduced because the contractor was able to dump locally.

"That was our out in making this project affordable," Dilmore said.

He said that other contractors, working for utility companies for instance, also had used the dump.

Council president Ed Klicker said that the street could not be repaired before next summer, but he and Dilmore suggested bringing up a firetruck to give Semple a good wash-down before winter.

Council member Albert Wurst was absent.

New position
A new assistant elementary school principal position was approved by the Avonworth School Board at its meeting on Sept. 14.

The board decided that the position was needed because of increased enrollment at the elementary school.

Currently, the district is using the services of John Esaias to assist elementary school principal Dr. Darlene Tartaglione at the school. The board hired Esaias as a consultant, working two days a week at $50 per hour plus mileage, for the first semester of the 2009-10 school year. The hiring, which could cost up to $12,500, was approved in a 6-1 vote with board member Jeff Schmid opposed.

Board members Peter McKay and Patrick Stewart were absent.

New cop?
Avalon's civil service commission will be instructed to prepare an eligibility list in case the borough decides to hire another full-time police officer.

Avalon Council safety committee chairman Patrick Narcisi said at council's Sept. 15 meeting that the committee would like council to have the flexibility to hire another police officer if officials felt it was necessary.

Solar panels
The A. W. Beattie Career Center board is looking into the idea of purchasing and installing solar panels at the building as a part of the renovation project.

Avonworth School Board member Marybeth Sommers told others at the board's meeting on Monday that Beattie was now getting bids on the panels.

Beattie also is looking into purchasing stand-alone solar panels that the students can be trained to work on.

The panels are estimated to cost some $130,000, but board member Lynn Evans McGrath said that the project is still within its budget.

Sommers said that all of the renovation work that was scheduled for the summer had been completed, but noted that there is still more renovation work to be completed at the building.

Reassessment wash
The results of recent property reassessment appeals were pretty much a wash for the Northgate School District.

School board finance committee chairman Dan O'Keefe reported at last Monday's committee of the whole meeting that the Allegheny County appeals board reduced the assessed value of three commercial properties by some $398,000. That was offset by a number of appeals filed by the district that added an equal amount of assessed value plus about $16,000, he said.

Northgate business manager Marilynn Berner said that the appeals board reduced the assessed value of one commercial property from $621,000 to $400,000, and another from $366,000 to $210,000.

Berner said that Northgate may further appeal the reassessments because the first appeal may have been decided on the basis of rental income generated by the properties, which once were vacant but now are not.

"Walk your kid to school"
Bellevue Elementary School parents will be asked to join with school officials, police and corporate sponsors on Oct. 7, "Walk Your Kid To School Day."

Principal John Primrose said that Bellevue Elementary is one of three schools in Allegheny County that have been chosen to help make motorists aware that they need to take care because of children walking to school.

Salt bid accepted
Avalon Borough became the latest local municipality to agree to a contract for road salt this winter.

Voting at its Sept. 15 regular meeting, council unanimously accepted the offer of Cargill, Inc. to provide salt at a cost of $52.75 per ton.

Research project
Northgate fifth graders could help other children have an easier time learning math.

The students will be observed and assessed by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University engaged in a project to determine how children learn fractions, according to Northgate School Board member Susan Nolan. The goal is to find better ways to teach fractions, Nolan said.

Grants wanted
Ben Avon Council unanimously approved, at its meeting on Tuesday, two resolutions authorizing applications for Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund (CITF) grants.

Borough engineer Ed McGee told council members that one of the grants, in the amount of $160,000, would go for repairs at the Ben Avon Volunteer Fire Department if Ben Avon is awarded the grant.

McGee said that a number of things need repaired at the building, including the roof, sky lights, front windows and the rear wall.

The other grant, McGee said, would help pay for reconstruction of steps and a retaining wall on Rostravor Place. That grant is in the amount of $60,000.

McGee added that both of the grants are 100 percent funded, requiring no borough contribution.

Council members Todd Smith and Lloyd Corder were absent.

Avonworth Personnel
The Avonworth School Board made a number of personnel decisions at its regular meeting on Monday.

The board hired three new part-time cafeteria workers for the 2009-10 school year. Hired were Dawn Kotula, Jodi Womer and Roxann Persia.

Three instructional aides’ resignations were accepted, and replacements hired. The board accepted the resignations of Beth Wisniewski, Stacey Slad and Serina Green, and ratified the hiring of Elizabeth Yovetich as an instructional aide at the elementary school, and Claire Lyskava as an instructional aide at the high school.

The board approved an unpaid leave May 28 through June 1, for Kathy Reichart.

Melissa Cwynar was approved for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for a period not to exceed 12 weeks during the second semester of the 2009-10 school year.

The board ratified the hiring of Mary Ann Berardino as a speech and language therapist for the extended school year summer program. She will be paid $36 per hour for a total of 29.5 hours.

Jeff Boggess was approved as the social studies department chair. He will replace John Aguiar, who resigned.

The board named Claire Pappas as the fifth grade team leader. She replaces Marnie Arnold who resigned.

Morgan Voltz was approved as a day-to-day substitute teacher. She will be paid $140 per day.

The board ratified the hiring of Marjorie Gray as a personal care aide retroactive to Aug. 31. She replaces Michael Minnitte, who resigned.

Amy Besterman was named as a mentor for a long-term substitute for gifted support at the elementary school.

The board accepted the resignation of Zach Maisner as the assistant varsity wrestling coach.

The board named Dr. Jay Micucci as the school dentist for the 2009-10 school year.

Board member Frank Mucha was approved as an alternate delegate to the Northern Allegheny County Tax Collection Committee.

Board members Peter McKay and Patrick Stewart were absent.

Street help wanted
A new street department employee is wanted in Avalon Borough.

The borough council voted unanimously on Sept. 15 to accept the resignation of David Amend, and advertise for his replacement.

Grant accepted
The Avonworth School Board voted, at its regular meeting on Monday, to accept the Active Schools Initiative Grant.

The district will be awarded $9,989 which will go to replace old equipment in the high school weight room.

Northgate personnel
A nurse assistant for Bellevue Elementary was hired at the Sept. 15 Northgate School Board committee of the whole meeting.

Hired part-time was Melissa Vaccaro.

The board also voted unanimously to approve Anthony Barron as a volunteer middle school girls' basketball coach.

Payments authorized
A number of payments were authorized by the Avonworth School Board at its regular meeting on Sept. 14.

The board authorized a payment of $299.67 to Phil Coffin for writing the Active Schools Initiative Grant.

A payment of $625 was authorized for Melissa DeSimone for making revisions to a teacher induction handbook.

Agreement extended
An extension of an agreement with Patricia Quinn for business office support was approved by the Avonworth School Board at its regular meeting on Sept. 14.

Quinn will assist with tuition reconcilement and billing for students that attend Avonworth from Holy Family. She will be paid $28 per hour for up to 300 hours.

Transfer approved
A transfer of some $200,000 from Ben Avon Borough's general fund to its capital reserve fund was approved by council at its regular meeting on Tuesday.

Council member Judy Konitsney said that the borough had about $700,000 in the general fund, and would be fine financially for the rest of the year even with the transfer.

Council president Ken Opipery Jr. said that there was approximately $30,000 in the capital reserve fund.

Opipery said that there will be projects in the coming years that the transferred funds would help finance.

The transfer was unanimously approved. Council members Todd Smith and Lloyd Corder were absent.

Delegates named
Avalon Borough has named its delegates to the committee that will oversee earned income tax collection reform for the northern area of Allegheny County.

Borough manager Harry Dilmore will serve as the primary delegate, with council president Ed Klicker as the alternate.

The appointments were made at the Sept. 15 council meeting.

Conference attendance
Avalon borough manager will attend an upcoming wet weather sewer conference in Pittsburgh.

Council voted at its Sept. 15 meeting to approve his attendance at the conference on Sept. 29 and 30 at a cost of $65.

Quality of life in Avalon
The Avalon Borough Quality of Life Committee will resume meetings, and interested residents are invited to get involved.

The committee, chaired by council member Patrick Narcisi, was formed to address issues in the borough such as code violations, abandoned properties, etc.

The next meeting will be held at the borough hall on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m.

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