OVR program is win-win for towns and workers

A program of the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation is making it possible for young workers to get on-the-job training and the state’s municipalities to get some much needed help at no cost. In Bellevue, Alex Workinger (pictured here) is helping spruce up the business district. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

If Bellevue is looking a little tidier these days, it is not necessarily because people have begun butting their cigarettes in sand pots provided or because they have suddenly become more careful about where to dispose of trash.

Well, maybe they actually have, but it also is because Bellevue has had some extra help lately in keeping the area clean, thanks to a young man, Alex Workinger, who has been stationed around the streets as a summer employee provided by Pennsylvania's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).

A recent North Hills High School graduate, Alex spends his days maintaining clean-up efforts along Lincoln Avenue, as well as other streets, pulling weeds from public areas and gathering trash along Ohio River Boulevard. He also “touches up” Bellevue signs that may have rusted or have chipped paint.

OVR screens all applicants and attempts to have students work in their home towns. Since there were no Northgate applicants, efforts were made to find potential employees who live in nearby areas. With Alex job-seeking and living in West View, he fit the search.

Bellevue's director of administrative services, Ronald Borczyk, who worked to bring the program to Bellevue, maintains close contact with a supervisor who checks in with Alex every day.

But Bellevue residents should not become dependent on Alex to keep the area neat and clean forever, as he has plans in place to attend Beattie Technical School for a third year of automotive technology studies.

For now though, it's a win-win arrangement for Bellevue as well as for Alex, who has a summer job that benefits Bellevue at no cost to the borough.

“His salary, worker's compensation, payroll taxes -- all taken care of by OVR,” Borczyk said.

Although budget cuts threaten such programs at both federal and state levels, Borczyk believes that they have value for all who are involved.

“The program helps to orient recent graduates into the work place,” Borczyk said. “And what he is doing is something we have needed on Lincoln Avenue for years.”