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Steel Valley COG marks its 40th year of service

| Friday, April 26, 2013, 11:39 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
COG vice president Michael Bogesdorfer, right, displays a proclamation from state Rep. Marc Gergely. Individual honorees included, from left, Braddock Hills council vice president Charles Arthrell and president Robert Henkel, COG president and Munhall Mayor Raymond Bodnar, Clairton Councilman and fire Chief John Lattanzi and Homestead Mayor Betty Esper.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
State Rep. Marc Gergely talks with COG secretary An Lewis, left, and solicitor Stanley Lederman at the COG's 40th annual general assembly dinner meeting.
Cindy Shegan LKeeley | Daily News
State Rep. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak, talks with Steel Valley Council of Governments secretary An Lewis, left, and solicitor Stanley Lederman, right, before taking the podium at the COG's 40th annual general assembly dinner meeting on Thursday night at Grand View Golf Club in Braddock Hills.

Steel Valley Council of Governments members and guests celebrated a milestone at Grand View Golf Club in North Braddock on Thursday night.

It was the organization's 40th annual general assembly dinner meeting.

Marc Gergely, the Democratic state representative from White Oak and the evening's guest speaker, presented the COG with a commemorative certificate.

“It's an amazing testament to what a council of governments can do,” Gergely said.

Steel Valley COG was established in 1973 and is headquartered at 1705 Maple St. in Homestead. The nonprofit represents Homestead, Braddock Hills, Dravosburg, Munhall, West Elizabeth, West Homestead, West Mifflin, Whitaker and Clairton.

Its first president was Ray Siniawski. He was succeeded by Munhall Mayor Raymond Bodnar, who still holds that office.

“I certainly expect the COG to progress in the future and be a lot more technical, enabling the COGs to work together to provide more and more services,” Bodnar said. “We expect to have the cooperation.”

Gergely has an office in the Steel Valley COG building.

“It's a great place for my constituents to come and get help,” he said.

Executive director An Lewis highlighted some of the organization's successes.

“I think it's awesome,” she said of the COG's longevity. “It's a showcase of the dedication of our civil servants.”

Lewis noted that Steel Valley collaborated with the Twin Rivers and Turtle Creek Valley COGs to battle blight.

She said a police chief advisory committee that was formed to provide public safety input to Allegheny County officials.

Clairton Chief Rob Hoffman and Homestead Chief Jeff DeSimone serve on the committee and will meet Friday with county emergency management coordinator Alvin Henderson, Lewis said.

Bodnar said Lewis and her staff are the organization's driving force.

“She's the go-getter. I just sign the checks,” Bodnar said.

Gergely presented certificates of public service to Bodnar, Homestead Mayor Betty Esper, Steel Valley COG and West Homestead solicitor Stanley Lederman, Steel Valley COG vice president and Whitaker council president Michael Bogesdorfer, Braddock Hills vice president Charles Arthrell and president Robert Henkel, and Clairton fire Chief John Lattanzi.

Henkel has served the COG for more than 20 years, and Arthrell for more than 15.

“Good people work together,” Arthrell said.

“Instead of you having one municipality standing alone, you've got 10 municipalities helping each other,” Henkel said.

Lattanzi is serving his second year with the COG. He's been a fire chief for 40 years and has been fighting fires for 54 years.

“If communities work together, they can get things accomplished,” Lattanzi said.

Esper became involved with Steel Valley COG in the 1980s while on council, and in the '90s as mayor.

“We got recognized for being old,” Esper said. “It's always nice when you're appreciated.”

Esper noted the sacrifice public servants and politicians make to help their constituents.

“Politicians give up more evenings than the public realizes,” Esper said. “We all have families.”

Steel Valley COG meets the first Thursday of the month at various locations, primarily Eat'n Park in the Waterfront.

More information is available online at www.svcog.org.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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