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St. Clair, Seward residents want regional police

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

A group of residents from Seward Borough and St. Clair Township hopes officials and residents will favorably receive a plan to regionalize the area's police departments.

The group came to the St. Clair Township supervisors' meeting last week to ask for volunteers to add to a committee of those looking into the plan.

The group plans to go before New Florence and Bolivar borough councils and Fairfield Township supervisors, as well.

Seward resident Bob Bouch said once the group can determine which municipalities are interested and work through the logistics of a regional force — such as who will run the department and how it will be funded — they will seek putting a referendum on the ballot for voters to decide on the issue.

“I think putting it on the ballot is a great idea,” Supervisor Jim Caldwell said. “That way we can really see what the people want.”

It will not appear on this year's ballot.

“This is going to be, like, a year process,” said Dennis Rudnik, who volunteered to represent St. Clair Township on the committee, along with Supervisor Fred Clark and resident Wayne Waugh.

Seward's representatives, appointed at the borough council meeting earlier, are Councilman Shawn Shaftic and residents Bouch and Sandy Mitchell.

This isn't the first time a regional police force has been proposed for this area.

At the St. Clair Township meeting, supervisors and audience members from both St. Clair and Seward argued about which municipality backed out each time it's been pursued.

“It's neither here nor there, but just to set the record straight, St. Clair dropped out,” Seward resident Tom Custer said.

“We only backed out because the Seward mayor told us they weren't interested in pursuing it with us,” Supervisor Richard Hill said.

Bouch said he's hoping the citizens advisory committee will eliminate that kind of talk.

“We don't want any bad blood, we just want a regionalized police force,” he said.

St. Clair supervisors also addressed a letter signed by a dozen residents on Fifth Street complaining about the state of their road.

Fifth Street landlord Carol Cushman represented the group at the meeting.

“The road has deteriorated and has become almost impossible for commuting, walking, and children and adults who bicycle,” Cushman said. “At least four years ago, Evelyn Blankebicker, now deceased, complained that she could not cross the street with her wheelchair or walker to reach her mailbox because of the condition of the road.”

Caldwell said last year, the county earmarked about $140,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding to fix Fifth and Seventh streets, Furnace Lane and a portion of Northview Heights, but the township is still waiting on the engineering specifications for the project.

“They promised me the money last year, but it was getting late in the summer and the engineers asked if we could wait until this summer,” Caldwell said. “We know about the problem and we're trying to address it.”

In other news:

• Secretary Kristina Clark read a letter from township auditors recommending working supervisors receive a 50-cent hourly raise.

• Clark announced that residents wanting to tap into a People Gas line must fill out an application, available at the township building, so the company can determine if enough people are interested in the project

• Police Chief Mike Fusco is seeking applications for an additional borough police officer. Resumes should be sent to the township building, P.O. Box 506, Seward, PA 15954

Jewels Phraner is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or