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Hollidaysburg congressman's staff headed to Donora

| Friday, March 15, 2013, 1:31 a.m.

Members of U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster's staff will conduct a public forum 11 a.m. Wednesday in Donora, Mayor John Lignelli said Thursday at a council meeting.

The Hollidaysburg Republican's staff will listen to concerns from Mon Valley residents that day.

Lignelli said that considering the expanse of Shuster's district, selecting Donora for the event was a “pretty good gesture.”

The event, which will take place upstairs in the borough building, is open to Mon Valley residents who want to discuss problems or make comments relative to the federal government.

Lignelli predicted that similar meetings will take place in the future.

Donora blooming

Councilman Thomas Kostolansky called on residents to participate in a community garden project.

Kostolansky spoke on behalf of Donora Library director Donnis Headley, who is spearheading the beautification project.

Anyone interested in raising vegetables or flowers in the community garden should contact Headley at the Donora Public Library, 510 Meldon Ave., Donora, PA, 15033; 724-379-7940; or email

Headley is seeking experienced gardeners to help novices who take part in the project.

In another matter, council appointed borough administrator Dennis Fisher to a five-year term on the Mon Valley Sewage Authority board of directors. The borough has two representatives on the board, including Councilman J. Tony Menendez, but hopes to add another one or two representatives in the future.

Sewage suit

Kostolansky and his wife, Patricia, have filed a class action lawsuit against the authority and the City of Monessen related to stalled construction of a proposed water treatment plant in Monessen.

The suit also named authority board members J. Tony Menendez, Ronald Barran, Paul Berardelli and Dennis Wince, and the following Monessen officials: Mayor Mary Jo Smith and council members Lucille D'Alfonso, Martin M. Dudas, Jonmichael Retos and William Manus.

The Kostolanskys are asking the court to ensure that “members of (the) plaintiffs' class do not pay additional charges to their sewage bills as a result of the actions” taken by Monessen.

The case goes back to 1991, when the authority initiated a combined sewer overflow and long-term control plan.

The plan called for construction of a satellite treatment plant – known as the Seneca Street Facility – in Monessen.

The facility was to be developed at the site of the former Page Steel and Wire plant, on the Monongahela River side of railroad tracks behind Frank's Garage at 1 Donner Ave.

Monessen officials approved the plan in 2007.

Those plans came to a halt when Monessen council amended an ordinance Aug. 15 and rezoned the land marked for the Seneca Street Facility. Monessen solicitor Mark Shire said the zoning designation was changed to conditional use.

Since then, the authority and Monessen have been embroiled in a legal battle.

In other business, Council received $7,697 from the Washington County District Attorney's office for use by the borough police department.

The money, confiscated during drug arrests in the borough, was provided under the Drug Forfeiture Act.

District Attorney Gene Vittone delivered the check to council.

Residents were reminded that refuse bills must be paid by April 1 to receive the annual discount rate of $160. Borough offices will remain open until 6 p.m. that day to accept payments.

After that date, the rate will be $180.

Council reappointed John Hynok to the borough Zoning Board of Appeals for a three-year term.

Miranda J. Startare is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.