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Whitaker council hires part-time officer

| Thursday, July 11, 2013, 3:46 a.m.

Whitaker council hired a new part-time officer at Wednesday night's meeting, and plans to hire two more within the next month.

McKeesport resident Kathy Jo Bersnock is the new addition to the borough force. She will be on probation for at least 700 working hours.

Councilors said Bersnock came highly qualified for the position and was selected from a group of six finalists.

Council vice president David Funk noted some of those finalists found jobs elsewhere.

Bersnock currently does not work for another municipal police department, but has law enforcement experience, officials said.

Whitaker has nine officers, all part-time, including police Chief John Vargo.

“I want to commend them for adding an officer to the force,” Vargo said. “Hopefully we can keep looking, we need about three more.”

Borough officials are expected to interview another potential patrolman today in the ongoing effort to protect the town and fill shifts.

Munhall and West Mifflin police assist when help is needed.

“We back them up; they back us up,” Vargo said. “It's the same as any other community.”

Council hired James Jensen as a public works laborer at a rate of $7.50 per hour.

Council authorized Glenn Engineering to submit the feasibility study of sewer repair on behalf of the borough to the Allegheny County Health Department. The study is a requirement through the consent decree and is due to the county by the end of the month.

Borough Solicitor George Janocsko said he will schedule a meeting with Teamsters Local 205 to begin police contract negotiations.

The current three-year deal expires at the end of the year. Janocsko negotiated three previous Whitaker police contracts, each for three years.

He said he hopes there will be “a fair and reasonable agreement for both parties,” and they will be able to avoid Act 111 arbitration.

Councilors approved sending letters of appreciation to the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office, West Mifflin's parks and recreation department, Baldwin EMS, West Mifflin Baseball League and Mac's Towing for their assistance with Whitaker Community Day.

Councilors authorized the $50 purchase of a book for the West Mifflin Area School District library department in memory of George Lippert, a retired borough officer and Air Force veteran who died on July 3.

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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