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Port Vue looks to curb metal scrapping

| Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, 2:21 a.m.

Port Vue council is trying to put a stop to people collecting metal from residents' trash without permission.

Commonly called scrapping, council explained the situation at its meeting on Wednesday.

“After we reviewed our contract with our (garbage) hauler, and some other things, we decided we will not permit any kind of scrapping,” Councilman Frank Cortazzo said. “However, to help our residents out, we put a bin down by the borough garage. It's for scrap-like metals. … Police are going to stop people from going through our garbage in the middle of the night.”

Cortazzo said property owners can permit people to take their scrap materials, but unauthorized collectors will be charged with theft.

Borough officials last month discussed crafting an ordinance requiring a permit to collect metal.

“The ordinance was never finalized before. It was just in the planning stages,” Mayor Brien Hranics said.

Cortazzo explained that based on a borough ordinance and a contract with trash collector Nickolich Sanitation, items residents place on the curb for garbage collection become the property of Nickolich.

“Our ordinance (and) contract with Nickolich says that when people put stuff on the curb, it becomes the property of the hauler,” Cortazzo said. “In no way does it just become public property. We felt if we put an ordinance together that allowed you to come and take (scrap), we would be violating our contract with Nickolich. … So if Nickolich doesn't take it, it's the property owner's responsibility to take care of it.”

Scrapping caught the attention of borough officials earlier this year.

Two longtime public works employees accused of scrapping on the job were fired at a special meeting on July 8.

Timothy Wilson, 59, and Robert A. Pastore, 54, are charged with felony counts of theft by unlawful taking, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received and conspiracy.

They worked for Port Vue's public works department for at least 15 years. The investigation that led to the charges began in February when residents complained about Wilson and Pastore rummaging through curbside garbage on collection days. They're accused of taking materials from a borough recycling bin, too.

A preliminary hearing for the two is scheduled for Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. before Glassport Magisterial District Judge Armand A. Martin.

Council voted 5-0 on Wednesday to hire Tom Thompson and Russell Wooster III as part-time public works employees. Wooster's father, Councilman Russell Wooster Jr., abstained, and Councilman Doug Junecko was absent.

Wooster Jr. said his son and Thompson already were working for the borough as summer helpers and were not hired to replace Wilson or Pastore.

He said the borough does not plan to hire additional public works employees until the legal process ends for the two former workers.

Council unanimously reappointed Valerie Carpenter to the planning commission for a four-year term to expire in May 2018.

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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