Content about Mark Helbling


The new year provides us with the perfect opportunity to clean house, so to speak, in all aspects of life. The new year coinciding with the installation of new government officials just reinforces our learned tendency to make the new year a time of dramatic change.

We need to be careful, however, that the "junk" we're throwing out isn't the critical piece of an important item, or a rare collectible that will enrich us all.


Although Bellevue Council meetings have been lengthy and full of redundancies lately, the outright hostility of meetings past has been a bit muted.

At least in public.

Out of the public meeting chamber, the skate plaza and resignation of the assistant DAS have lit the simmering embers of outright loathing that exist among some members of council.

Apparently some members of council blame some of their colleagues for the loss of ADAS Katie Hale, even though it has been reported that personal circumstances may have played a major role in her decision.


If you haven't already made up your mind how to vote on Bellevue's alcohol referendum, you really should make the effort to read and listen to many of its proponents.

More than any evenly presented recitation of facts and opinion about the future of a "wet" Bellevue, the paranoid, delusional, downright incorrect ramblings of some of these people will have you steering way clear of the "yes" button on the voting machine.


When I was in college, I took a class on Native American culture that introduced me to the writings of Carlos Casteneda.

Now, Casteneda -- in spite of, or perhaps because of, the ingestion of various natural mushroom-type substances popular at one time in our not too distant history -- imparted several fascinating personal philosophies. The one that has stuck with me over the decades is that reality is a relative concept.


Sometimes things happen in the course of gathering news that defy our best efforts to shape them into a news story.


Bellevue officials unhappy with a council decision to hire the borough’s engineering firm to develop a plan for the town’s parks decided to strike out on their own, resulting in a heated exchange at the pre-council meeting last Tuesday.


The voting machines had barely cooled down after Tuesday’s primary election when Bellevue residents saw the borough’s first liquor license application notice appear on a storefront window.

A referendum to allow businesses to open bars and restaurants serving alcoholic beverages was approved by voters, 897-526.


Bellevue Mayor Paul Cusick broke a tie vote among Bellevue Council members Tuesday night to reject a proposal to hire an independent actuary to review the borough’s pension plans.

Although council voted in December to hire a new actuary, according to council member Linda Woshner, Tuesday’s vote on the matter came to a 4-4 tie, with Woshner, Jim Scisciani, Vence Menosky and Lynn Tennant Heffley in favor, and opposition from Kathy Coder, Matt Senvisky, Mark Helbling and Henry Lenard.


Two members of Bellevue Council are asking to make a last minute revision to the borough’s paving program, with one of them maintaining that the plan sets a bad precedent that would require the borough to pave alleys in the future.

Both Mark Helbling and Kathy Coder asked at the pre-council meeting Tuesday whether money slated to pave certain streets could be switched to other projects before the contract is awarded at next Tuesday’s regular meeting. Helbling wanted to put off paving West Avenue in order to put the money towards paving the parking lot at Memorial Park.


The much-debated streetscape design feature known as the “bump-out” is back in the plans for the first phase of Bellevue’s main street revitalization project. Advocates for the feature appealed to Bellevue Council once again at council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, and received permission to add one set of bump-outs to the construction plans.


Bellevue Council voted unanimously Tuesday to override the mayor's veto of the 2013 salary ordinance, although it is unclear whether the changes wanted by the mayor will be enacted in an amendment to that ordinance later this year.

Mayor George Doscher had vetoed the ordinance adopted Dec. 27, stating that he objected to administrative employees being required to contribute 7 percent of the cost of their health insurance while union employees contribute only 5 percent.


After a heated discussion that had more to do with airing past grievances than debating the merits of hiring a new solicitor, Bellevue Council voted to replace the solicitor that has represented the borough for the last three years.


A proposal to officially increase the free parking time at Bellevue parking meters may be delayed while more information is obtained.

Council was to vote next week on a motion to amend the borough’s parking fee ordinance to allow free parking at all meters in the borough after 6 p.m. daily, and at all metered spaces in parking lots on weekends.

Council member Jane Braunlich said that the borough already allows free parking after 6 p.m. and on Sundays because there is no enforcement at those times.


Bellevue Council will solicit proposals for professional services in two areas, with one of them likely to generate a lot more discussion in future months.

As expected, council voted unanimously at its regular meeting Tuesday to issue a Request For Proposals (RFP) for auditing services. The motion had been presented at the pre-council meeting the week before, and there was no discussion of the matter.

Council also, however, approved a motion that was not on the agenda and had not been discussed at the pre-council meeting, to issue an RFP for a solicitor.


Bellevue Council has rejected a proposed amendment to the borough’s sidewalk table ordinance that would have allowed restaurant patrons to drink alcoholic beverages at sidewalk tables.

Although Bellevue businesses cannot sell alcohol by the glass, customers are permitted to bring their own alcoholic beverages to consume with their meals. The borough’s ordinance, however, limits the consumption to customers at tables inside the restaurant.


Bellevue Council members (from left) Lynn Tennant-Heffley, Jane Braunlich, Linda Woshner and Jim Viscusi -- along with Susan Viscusi, Jim Scisciani and Mark Helbling and other volunteers -- served up hundreds of hotdogs, chips, watermelon slices and cold drinks at Memorial Park on Wednesday as the borough hosted its annual July 4th community picnic. The afternoon featured free swimming, food, entertainment and games.


Just two days after Mayor George Doscher vetoed an ordinance that would regulate the placement of grills in the borough, a fire caused by a malfunctioning propane grill threatened the childhood home of one of the ordinance’s opponents.


Bellevue's proposed open burning ordinance is ready for final approval next week, after being amended to address concerns expressed by residents who attended a council meeting last month.

Only a handful of those residents were in attendance at Tuesday's pre-council meeting, where the new ordinance was presented.


Government officials usually are criticized for giving jobs to their relatives, but it was the lack of nepotism involved in summer hiring that resulted in an explosion at Bellevue' s pre-council meeting on Tuesday.

Before storming out of the meeting in a rage because his son was not selected to be a public works laborer this summer, Mayor George Doscher disparaged members of council, told one to shut up, and refused to cede the floor and stop yelling when council president Linda Woshner called him out of order.


Bellevue Council made two commission appointments and hired several seasonal workers at Tuesday’s meeting.

Elmer Nemeth was reappointed to the borough’s civil service commission in a unanimous vote.

Michele Smith was named to the joint planning commission in a 6-3 vote, with council members Frank Camello, Kathy Coder and Mark Helbling opposed.

In the same 6-3 vote, Maureen Grant was hired to manage the swimming pool this summer. Grant has managed the pool for the last two seasons as an employee of Swim America.


Barely 24 hours after Bellevue Council appointed a new third ward representative, Emsworth Council accepted the resignation of one of their own.

Lynn Tennant Heffley was chosen in a unanimous vote by Bellevue Council Tuesday to fill the third ward council seat left vacant when Mark Panichella resigned after two years on council.

A lifelong resident of Bellevue who lives on North Jackson Avenue, Heffley is a teacher at Bellevue Elementary School.


The post-election reorganization of Bellevue Council Monday night was not without incident -- several of them in fact. The meeting began with one council member-elect omitted from the swearing-in, and ended with questions about the legitimacy of the entire process. In between, a new regime took charge of council, and perhaps set the tone for the coming year.


The Sept. 27 regular meeting of Bellevue Council had to be canceled due to the lack of a quorum.

Only three members of council -- Linda Woshner, Jane Braunlich and Susan Viscusi -- appeared for the 7 p.m. meeting.

The six members of council who were absent were Lisa Blaney-Stewart, David Gillingham Jr., Mark Helbling, Kathy Coder, Mark Panichella and Jim Viscusi.

Woshner said that the business scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting likely would be placed on the agenda for the council work session to be held the second Tuesday in October.


Bellevue Council will have to decide between PAMS and Jordan Tax Services for collection of borough fees and delinquent taxes, but first may have to decide exactly what fees the companies may collect.

Although the collection fees charged by PAMS are lower, according to council members, the finance committee recommended hiring Jordan to collect sewage, per capita and possibly garbage fees.

Council members Jane Braunlich and Linda Woshner both objected to hiring Jordan because of the higher collection and delinquency fees that would be charged to borough taxpayers.