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Westmoreland

Unity eager to break ground for public works building

Jeff Himler
| Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, 10:18 p.m.
In this file photo, Supervisor John Mylant, a township roadmaster, talks about the fire that consumed the public works garage, during a press conference in Unity Township last September.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
In this file photo, Supervisor John Mylant, a township roadmaster, talks about the fire that consumed the public works garage, during a press conference in Unity Township last September.

Unity Township this week received the last of eight trucks it ordered to replace vehicles lost in a Sept. 24 arson.

Township officials hope by next month to have plans completed for a new public works building that will stand in the spot where its predecessor was gutted by the blaze.

The township supervisors placed an order of more than $1.2 million for seven four-wheel-drive International trucks, weighing up to 44,000 pounds each, and a 1-ton truck. The last four trucks arrived Monday and were put to use plowing snow this week.

“It's a welcome thing for us,” Supervisor Ed Poponick said of the new trucks. “We've been working on getting all the bugs out of them. So far, so good.”

According to supervisors Chairman John Mylant, while township crews break in the new vehicles, Unity will hold on to some of the trucks it received on loan from neighboring municipalities to help it recover from the arson.

The fire remains under investigation by state police.

The new and loaned vehicles are being housed between two temporary garages the township is renting on Route 981 and Lloyd Avenue Extension.

Mylant said the township is anxious to have the road crew under a new roof of its own, next to the municipal building — where trucks must travel to pick up loads of salt and fill up on fuel.

Township officials have been working with Unity Township resident Bob Wright, of architectural consultant Stantec, to design the replacement building, Mylant said.

Solicitor Gary Falatovich said Unity hopes to have the design and related cost estimates worked out by next month, while looking to “clarify some numbers with the insurance carrier.”

According to a state police fire marshal, the total fire loss was estimated at $4 million to $5 million.

Mylant noted the township was able to restore one truck that was salvaged from the fire and keeps it as a backup unit.

Mylant said the supervisors are looking to replace the destroyed 18-bay block building with a somewhat larger steel structure that would have room enough to keep the township's 21 work vehicles all under roof.

It would be equipped with a sprinkler system for fire suppression.

The township has begun to place red warning notices on vehicles that are left parked overnight on township streets and make it difficult for crews to plow snow, Mylant said.

The problem is most prominent in housing plans, he said.

So far, Unity has not had to tow any of the cars.

Mylant also pleaded with residents not to throw snow from their driveways into the public road, where it can freeze and create a hazard for motorists and an extra chore for plow operators.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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