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Latrobe to notify residents via cellphone, email alerts

| Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Officials in Latrobe have begun to use real-time cellphone and email alerts, in part to improve communication after July's 17-hour police standoff on Lloyd Avenue.

City Manager Alex Graziani said Latrobe should take advantage of the program at ­— which is free for the city — and the technology at hand.

“People expect their phones to be more than a way to get in touch with everybody,” he said.

Lloyd Avenue had to be closed for 17 hours while power was shut off overnight to homes there and some residents were evacuated as police tried to coax 46-year-old Scott Murphy out of his home after a pharmacy robbery July 18.

“If we would've had Nixle in place then, we would've been able to help some people” who were looking for information, Graziani said.

Three people have the authority to send messages: Graziani, police department community service officer Beth Straka and emergency management director Skip Bollinger.

“We all have the common goal of keeping the city safe, keeping (residents) informed,” Straka said.

Anyone can sign up for the alerts through, which are sent through a text message or email and include weather warnings, road closures, police activity and community event reminders.

City council adopted a policy to govern the use and access to the messages in September.

“It's important the messages be clear, concise and factual,” Graziani said. “We need to, as a public entity, reach as many people as we can.”

“It's going to keep everyone in the loop,” Straka said. “I don't know how we lived without it before.”

The messages can be sent to anyone within a quarter-mile radius of Latrobe at any time. “We're a full-service community that is looking to protect people and property,” Graziani said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or