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East McKeesport police officer commended for actions in fire

| Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, 3:36 a.m.

East McKeesport officials honored a borough police officer on Thursday for his actions during a fire last month.

Mayor Robert Howard and council president Kathleen Lipesky presented officer Eric Hess with a letter of commendation.

Hess responded to a fire on Aug. 17 around 1:30 a.m. at 640 Pittsburgh St.

Upon his arrival he found the homeowner, Thomas Blotzer, on the roof of his porch, holding his dog.

“Mr. Blotzer was not able to exit the house due to the severe smoke condition inside the house,” Howard explained during the council meeting. “Officer Hess was able to get both Mr. Blotzer and his dog off the roof and to safety.”

Blotzer was evaluated by medical personnel at the scene. Hess put the dog in his police vehicle and continued to investigate the fire. No injuries were reported.

“This young man is a great animal lover,” Lipesky said. “And that helps when there's a dog caught in a fire. He also is very good to everyone he sees. He's someone we're proud of because he's helpful and gentle and yet in charge all at the same time. We really appreciate this police officer.”

Hess thanked borough officials for the recognition.

Councilors accepted the resignation of part-time patrolman Josh Byers.

Howard said Byers served the borough for more than a year and is taking a job in another municipality.

Council ratified hiring part-time officers Mike Sharp of Whitehall and Andrew Tantanella of Turtle Creek. The mayor and councilors were involved in the hiring process. The recently acquired officers have been on the force for a little more than a month.

“They're going to help fill our schedule to where we have two police officers on all shifts because we take care of the boroughs of Wall and East McKeesport,” Howard said. “They're learning and following directions.”

The resignation and hirings bring the department to three full-time and eight part-time officers.

Council authorized Glenn Engineering to advertise for a new garbage contract. The current contract with Waste Management expires at the end of the year.

Officials said a pancake breakfast benefiting United Volunteer Fire and Rescue is scheduled for Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Senior Citizen Community Center, 539 Chicora St. Cost is $7 a plate for adults, $4 for youth, and children ages 3 and younger eat for free. Price includes all-you-can-eat pancakes, a beverage and dessert.

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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