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Plum Borough Athletic Association developments top the borough's top 10 news stories of 2012

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.
Dick Claypoole leaves District Judge Linda Zucco's office after a hearing. Lillian DeDomenic | For the Plum Advance Leader
The renovations at the Plum Community Center are nearly complete. Lillian DeDomenic | For the Plum Advance Leader
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
Angela Marie Russo leaves District Judge Linda Zucco's office following a preliminary hearing on August 22, 2012. Russo and two others, Terry Lynn Bachner and Eileen Marie Andrews, are accused of physically abusing children at a closed daycare center in a Plum church. Lillian DeDomenic | Plum Advance Leader
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
Terry Lynn Bachner leaves the preliminary hearing at District Judge Linda Zucco office on Wednesday, August 22, 2012. Bachner is one of three women accused of physically abusing children at a closed daycare center in a Plum church. Angela Marie Russo and Eileen Marie Andrews are also accused. Lillian DeDomenic | For the Plum Advance Leader
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
Eileen Marie Andrews leaves District Judge Linda Zucco's office following a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, August 22, 2012. Andrews and two others, Terry Lynn Bachner and Angela Marie Russo, are accused of physically abusing children at a closed daycare center in a Plum church. Lillian DeDomenic | Plum Advance Leader
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
Mary Pivik looks at the photo/plaque of her father-in-law, Geroge, that was brought over from the old building. Lillian DeDomenic | For the Plum Advance Leader
The renovations at the Plum Community Center are nearly complete, including a new exercise area. Lillian DeDomenic | For the Plum Advance Leader

Taking a look back at the biggest stories in Plum in 2012 offers an opportunity to take one last look at the politics and projects that shaped the past 12 months:

1. Charges dropped against Claypoole

Plum District Judge Linda Zucco in May dismissed theft by deception charges against Richard Claypoole, former Plum Borough Athletic Association president.

The district attorney's office a year ago filed the charges against Claypoole, saying he wrote $213,595 in checks to himself and his business, Richmar, from the athletic association's bank account between April 2008 and April 2011.

The Allegheny County District Attorney's Office is still considering whether to refile a case against Claypoole, 69, of Plum, spokesman Mike Manko said.

Also, borough council earlier this month voted to accept a 25-year agreement with the Plum Baseball & Softball Association or PBSA, to conduct a baseball and softball program on eight fields off Ross Hollow Road and across the street from the borough building.

The PBSA began operating the program in March after the PBAA gave up its fight to retain the lease.

2. Pivik Elementary opens

The new Pivik Elementary School opened for the start of the school year.

“It is a fantastic, beautiful building,” Principal Gail Yamnitzky said in August. “It has everything the kids need. The teachers are anxious to get in their new classrooms.”

The two-story, 75,000-square-foot building that is across the street from the now closed school on School Road has a layout with classrooms clustered so that similar age groups are together. Buses drop students at the back of the building, and parents drop off children in front.

The Plum School Board recently voted to advertise for bids to develop a practice field at the new school. The school construction project cost about $17 million.

3. Sunny Carney dies

The Plum community last month mourned the death of a woman whose strength and courage served as an inspiration to others.

Sunny Carney died Nov. 3, after a 10-year fight with carcinoid cancer. She was 42. The wife and mother of three was a PTA president, made her children's Halloween costumes, took a cake-baking class so she could make her sons' birthday cakes and involved them in her home-based wedding-and-family-photography business, her husband Mark said.

In 2004, Carney was diagnosed with the rare endocrine disease, which spreads from organ to organ. Relatives said she likely had suffered the first effects of the cancer more than a decade ago, when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

She underwent three treatments in Switzerland to shrink tumors found in her liver, skull, spine, hips, legs shoulder, ovary and gall bladder.

She also inspired carcinoid cancer patients across the globe through her blog and then her book, “The ‘Sunny' Side of Cancer.” She spoke at numerous cancer events locally.

Memorials can be made in the form of contributions to the Carney Family Fund, c/o S&T Bank, 2190 Hulton Road, Verona, PA 15147.

4. Lunch boycott

Lunch participation rates at both Oblock Junior High and Plum High School plummeted more than 50 percent the first week of classes after students joined in a Twitter protest.

A federal law passed in 2010 required changes to school lunches, which include servings of fruits and vegetables every day, only fat-free or low-fat milk, reductions in saturated and trans fat and lower amounts of sodium designed to conform to new federal mandates, school officials said.

Lunch prices increased this year to $2.15 at elementary schools and $2.50 for secondary-school students. The cost of milk increased 5 cents to 50 cents.

Some students weren't happy with smaller portions and higher prices.

Plum High School senior Sean Doyle organized a brown-bag protest that amassed him thousands of social-media followers and prompted a similar boycott in Minnesota.

District food supervisor Maryann Lazzaro said she is in the process of compiling the participation rate data for the past couple of months.

5. Construction projects in Plum

Officials in May began work on the future public-works facility that includes an administrative building, garage and salt storage building on borough property between Renton Road and Old Leechburg Road. Council earlier this year awarded $7.1 million in contracts for the public-works facility. The contracts cover site work, paving, wetlands, general trades, plumbing and fire protection, electrical and mechanical systems.

The new 21,000-square-foot public-works building and garage will have the capacity for 25 large vehicles and is expected to serve the department's needs for 30 years.

The two-story building also will contain bays for mechanics and lifts for vehicles so they can perform on-site repairs.

Also planned are offices, a training room, restrooms, locker rooms and a kitchen area.

The site will have parking, including 25 employee spaces.With the new facility, trucks will be able to pull into the 8,600-square-foot salt storage building to load material. The salt storage building is complete.

The facility is expected to be completed on June 1, 2013.

Elsewhere, about 100 attendees gathered at the pavilion on the hill above the East Suburban YMCA building on Route 286 in October for a groundbreaking for the facility's expansion that will nearly double the size of the 20,000-square-foot facility. Features of the project are a 30,000-square-foot addition with a wellness center and track; teaching kitchen; indoor aquatic center, including a warm-water therapy pool; a new and expanded child-care area and summer day camp; new community room; locker rooms; a preventive health class and rehabilitation-program area; and potentially a teen center.

Larry Stormer, East Surburban YMCA executive director, said about $5 million of the $11 million price tag has been raised.

6. Adlai Stevenson project

The Plum School Board is ready to proceed with building a second elementary school.

The board last week voted to authorize the administration to negotiate an agreement with L.R. Kimball, Russo Construction and Pennsylvania Soil and Rock for the demolition of the existing Adlai Stevenson Elementary School and the construction of a new building.

Superintendent Timothy Glasspool has said building a new school would cost about $18 million. Closing Holiday Park, located about a mile from Adlai Stevenson, would save the district $635,743 annually and $31 million over 25 years.

“That knowledge (potential savings) gives us all the ammunition we need,” board member Shane McMasters said.

Board member Loretta White was the lone dissenter, saying she favored renovating and expanding Adlai at a cost of about $11 million.

7. Senior center expansion

Plum Senior Community Center members and visitors got some new amenities at the facility this year thanks to an $800,000 renovation and expansion project.

Officials in September conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the center for a new fitness room, exercise equipment room and a kitchen that more than doubles the space of the previous one and includes an area for freezers and fryers. The public can stop by for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays. The Meals on Wheels program also continues.

Senior center director NinaSegelson said the addition of the fitness area and the expanded kitchen is intended to attract people of all ages.

8. PSSA math scores rise

High school Principal Ryan Kociela got some welcome news this summer. Last year's 11th-graders, who are now seniors, achieved adequate yearly progress in math on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests, a goal that was not met by juniors who took the test in 2011.

“The scores went up to a historical high,” Kociela told Plum School Board members in August.

The achievement was accomplished with a lot of hard work, Kociela said. High school officials in September 2011 put together a plan to boost the 11th-grade math scores. Kociela, as well as the principals in the other district schools, continue to implement improvement plans with the goal of boosting scores.

High school officials this year also are concentrating on boosting the graduation rate that this year was 91 percent.

9. Daycare workers charged

Plum police arrested three former workers at a now-closed day-care center at a borough church earlier this year.

A former aide is accused of roughing up preschool children under her watch.

Eileen Marie Andrews, 44, of Verona, is charged with four counts of endangerment and two counts of simple assault stemming from incidents that occurred in 2011 and earlier this year at Genesis Child Care Center, according to testimony in a three-hour hearing in August before Plum District Judge Linda Zucco. Two other former employees are accused of failing to report and stop the behavior.

Program coordinator Terry Lynn Bachner, 43, of Murrysville and daycare Director Angela Marie Russo, 49, of Plum each are charged with two counts of child endangerment and two counts of failing to report the incidents.

The charges against them also were held for court.

Pittsburgh East Community Church on Oblock Road operated the childcare center, for preschool and school-age children. The church closed the center in April.

Andrews and Russo are scheduled for trial on Jan. 29, 2013.

The status of Bachner's case was not listed on the Allegheny County court website. Bachner's lawyer could not be reached for comment.

10. Penn Hills Wal-Mart nixed

Years of planning for a Wal-Mart in Penn Hills near the border of Plum came to a screeching halt last month when the retail giant nixed the plan, in order to pursue building a 124,715-square-foot supercenter in the Penn Center East development of William Penn Highway in Wilkins.

Some Plum officials who had concerns about traffic nightmares in the Regency neighborhood were pleased with Wal-Mart's decision to back out of the plan.

“I'm glad they aren't putting it in,” Councilman Donald Knopfel said last month. “We don't need the traffic and the headaches.”

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or

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