Oakmont forms panel to help residents plagued by Plum Creek flooding

| Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, 1:26 a.m.

Oakmont Borough officials are hoping to help property owners who are victims of flooding along Plum Creek.

New council President Nancy Ride appointed a four-person subcommittee to work with residents and state officials to solve problems.

Ted Sokol, owner of Oakmont Auto Body, which has been damaged by flooding, claimed that several developers along the creek backfilled portions of the channel, contributing to water backups.

State officials said the creek can't be lowered or dredged, but borough officials will meet with residents and state Department of Environmental Protection officials to develop a strategy to tackle the issue.

Council on Monday said it would seek bids for removing fallen trees in Plum Creek, along with pruning trees in parks and along Crystal Drive.

New solicitor sought

Oakmont is seeking a new solicitor after Robert Shoop stepped down after 25 years.

Council hopes to select a new solicitor on March 9.

Shoop will be on a retainer during the search.

Council members Elena Colianni and Thomas Briney will explore a roster of duties for the new solicitor.

To be determined are salary, whether the attorney is more of an expert in municipal or labor law, or both.

Councilman Tim Favo said council “should keep an open mind” and not pass on a potentially effective solicitor who doesn't live in the borough or practices solo, not with a firm.

Mayor Robert Fescemyer suggested council consult the Local Government Academy for a list of criteria. Resumes are being accepted by the borough office through Jan. 31.

Colianni and Briney will winnow down the list to a final three or four candidates.

Oaks for Oakmont

The borough will buy 125 oak seedlings for $43 from the state to help commemorate Oakmont's 125th anniversary celebration this summer.

Some of the seedlings will be given to residents, while others will be planted along creeks and other public places.

In other business

• Council voted to reopen the budget because mathematical discrepancies were discovered.

The budget is about $200,000 away from balancing.

No real estate tax increase will take place.

Officials said line items would be moved to bring the budget into balance.

• The Greek Orthodox Church needs another liquor license.

The church was awarded a catering license from another Allegheny County establishment several months ago.

The special license allows alcoholic beverage sales only to invited guests at catered activities in the church hall such as weddings or graduation parties.

Now, the church needs a separate license to serve liquor at a banquet hall across the street from the original facility.

State Liquor Control Board officials said the church needs a second license because a street separates the two buildings.

The borough will schedule a required public hearing at a later date.

Church officials weren't sure from where the new license would be transferred.

• New Fire Chief Garrett Segelson was introduced to council.

Segelson said his department handled 176 calls last year and fought 16 fires.

• Assistant Borough Secretary Ryan Jeroski was appointed tax collector.

No one ran for the position in November's election, nor were there any write-in votes.

George Guido is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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