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Glassport residents call out officials to curb drugs, violence

| Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 3:46 a.m.

Glassport residents who live near the scene of a recent incident involving gunfire are calling on the borough to step up law enforcement in the area.

At Tuesday's council meeting, resident Daniel Bender called on leaders to do something about drug dealing and violence near his home in the 800 block of Hemlock Alley.

Bender was one of several residents in the neighborhood who provided surveillance videos to police on March 9 that led to the arrest of two juveniles believed to be responsible for firing shots into a house in the alley.

After reviewing the video, police arrested a 17-year-old male and a 16-year-old female on Ravensburg Boulevard in Clairton in a vehicle believed to have been involved in the incident.

The arrest led to the recovery of a .45-caliber pistol, more than 200 stamp bags of heroin and $2,000 in cash.

“The drug problem in that alley has been going on for 10 years,” said Bender, who asked the borough to get help from Allegheny County police to address the problem. Bender said county police assured him that such help is available but the borough has to request it in order to receive it.

Borough officials told Bender and others who live in the area that they are addressing the problem.

Mayor Rosemary Bradley said, “We've had several meetings with the police department.”

“You will see a change in the near future,” she told Bender, but noted that he and his neighbors can help.

Bender and his neighbor Bill Hallas, who attended the meeting as well, gave police surveillance video from this latest incident. Bradley asked them to supply additional video from the alley to borough authorities including footage from another shooting Bender said occurred in mid-February.

Bradley said she could not disclose all that is being done to combat crime in the alley but indicated the police presence has been increased in the area.

She said the borough would like to meet with the landlord of the property that was fired upon.

“I'd like to work with you on this,” Bradley told Bender and Hallas.

A resident who lives in another section of Hemlock Alley complained to council about the poor condition of the road. The resident said the 300 and 400 blocks of Hemlock Alley haven't been paved in decades and are all but impassable.

Borough manager John DeSue said five blocks of the alley were left unpaved after the borough's last major paving project. He said funds are tight for paving, but the alley would be up for consideration as the borough prepares its priority list for a 2015 paving project.

Councilwoman Elaina Skiba said Hemlock Alley is not the only one in the borough in need of paving.

“Very few are passable,” she said.

Borough officials said crews will be hot patching potholes in the alley once the weather improves.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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