Police chase, Cheswick dispute in news
Making headlines was a police car chase in New Kensington and Arnold that ended when the fleeing van crashed into a garage, netting two suspects and a search for three others. And fireworks continue in Cheswick as council and residents debate whether they should keep their own fire department, while Cheswick Councilman Jonathan Skedel agreed to surrender his pistol and hunting guns as criminal charges are dropped after an incident with a local contractor.
North Apollo Volunteer Fire Department has asked borough council to levy an $80 annual fee on every household to keep the department financially alive. Without the money, officers say it could disband in as little as a year.
Butler County Community College President Nick Neupauer said he still is trying to determine how much a 9.3 percent cut in funding from Butler County will hurt the college. County Commissioners decreased the county's contribution after learning that the school had a $12.8 million fund balance. Neupauer said some of the fund balance can be used to match state money for desperately needed improvements at the college.
The Allegheny Valley School board decided not to raise property taxes any higher than an inflation-related amount allowed by the state. For next school year, for Allegheny Valley, the state‘s Act 1 caps any tax increase at 1.7 percent. Business Manager Brad Rau said the board decided to take the action because it is confident that the district will not need more than 0.4 mill to balance the budget. Superintendent Cheryl Griffith said the district has a $200,000 deficit in the 2013-14 budget that administrators are working to close.
• Cheswick Council's meeting erupted into a shouting match between council members and residents because of council's suggestion to contract out fire department services. Councilman John Skedel forcefully supported shutting down the Cheswick Volunteer Fire Company while the vocal majority of residents at the meeting supported keeping the fire department intact. Cheswick received a proposal from Allegheny Valley Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 to serve the borough for $8,900 a year compared with the borough paying $17,500 for Cheswick's fire company.
• A Tarentum man who lives in the 500 block of Roup Street said he will change how much information he makes public after his home was burglarized while he was in Paris — something his friends knew from reading his Facebook posts from there. The Tarentum man said he does not blame his posts for the timing of the break-in, but he's changing what he posts and when, anyway.
• During a preliminary hearing on simple assault and harassment charges, Cheswick Councilman Jonathan Skedel agreed to surrender his pistol and other firearms, give up his permit to carry a concealed gun and complete anger management counseling within 90 days. Plum District Judge Linda Zucco said she would dismiss the charges if Skedel follows the conditions. The charges stem from an incident in October in Plum in which Skedel allegedly argued with a subcontractor and pulled a pistol on him.
• Cheswick is considering disbanding its police department in a cost-cutting move and have Harmar officers patrol the one-half square mile borough 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cheswick Borough officials will meet later in the month to evaluate police coverage proposals from Harmar, Springdale Borough and Springdale Township.
Fewer than 10 residents showed up for a hearing by the Kiski Area School Board on its upcoming decision to close Washington Township Elementary School. “We were hoping for more feedback,” board member Ann Marie Nagy said. The proposed closure is part of a $30 million school consolidation that involves closing Washington Township and Bell-Avon elementary schools at the end of the current school year and Laurel Point Elementary after the 2013-14 school year.
Police were tracking down three men connected with a high speed police chase in Arnold that began with a report of a man pointing a shotgun at another man near 14th Street and Constitution Boulevard. As police arrived, a light-colored Dodge Caravan with five men inside sped away, leading police on a brief chase on the border of Arnold and New Kensington. As a police car pulled behind the van, two of the men jumped from the van, then a third man, according to police. The chase ended when the van crashed into a garage on Orange Alley, injuring the two remaining men in the van.