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The top Plum Advance Leader stories of 2013

| Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
The site of the former Plum Daily Grind restaurant on Route 286 in Plum.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
Groundbreaking for the new Holiday Park Elementary School at the Adlai/O'Block site, Tuesday, November 26. From left are: (L-R) Plum School Board member Richard Zucco; Holiday Park Elementary School Principal Fran Sciullo; Plum School Board member Joe Tommarello; Adlai Stevenson Elementary Principal Jason Knisely; Plum School Board member Shane McMasters; Plum School Board member Tom McGough; Plum School Board member John St. Leger; Plum School Board member Kevin Dowdell; Plum School Board member Sal Colella; Pittsburgh Soil and Rock President Arnie Caffas; Plum School District business Manager Eugene Marraccini; Plum School District assistant Superintendent Guy Rossi; Plum School District Superintendent Timothy Glasspool and Plum School District director of administrative Services Michael Brewer.

Looking back at the biggest stories in Plum in 2013 offers an opportunity to take one last look at the politics and projects that shaped the past 12 months.

1The Holiday Park Volunteer Fire Department in April evicts the Nowalk Daily Grind from its annex building on Route 286 and, subsequently, sues Councilman Keith Nowalk in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court for $196,536 representing unpaid rent due until 2019, the end of the original 10-year-lease, late fees and attorney fees.

A new business, Grand Slam Pizza, in November moves into the building and has a three-year lease with the fire department.

2Councilman Keith Nowalk in August announces he will not seek re-election in November. He cites a need to focus on his family and other business ventures. The Plum Borough Republican Committee votes to place Dave Seitz's name on the ballot.

Seitz is the vice president of the Plum Baseball & Softball Association, or PBSA.

Seitz is not successful in the election. Former Councilman Dave Vento, a Democrat, wins a seat and is scheduled to be take office on Jan. 6.

Incumbents Mike Doyle, Michael Dell and Leonard Szarmach are re-elected.

3Plum officials in November break ground on the new Holiday Park Elementary School that is being paid for through a combination of refinancing bonds and borrowing.

The board awards four contracts totaling $15.2 million for the project, which is not to exceed $20 million.

The building is expected to be completed in February 2015.

4Plum officials in October conduct a ribbon cutting at the borough-owned property off Renton Road for a new public-works facility, as well as a groundbreaking for a new ambulance base for Plum Emergency Medical Services and a new fire station for the Renton Volunteer Fire Department.

Officials hope to have the new building completed at the end of 2014.

They also say they will continue development plans at the site.

5Plum School Board candidate Michele Gallagher, who mounted a write-in campaign about a week before the May 21 primary, gets the Democratic nod and wins a seat in the Nov. 5 general election.

The election of Gallagher and fellow Democrat Michelle Stepnick drops the Republican majority that had been 7-2 to 5-4.

6The Plum School Board explores the possibility of building a new bus garage on the borough property site off Renton Road.

Borough officials have pinpointed two potential locations, and more discussion is expected at the Jan. 14 transportation committee meeting.

7The Plum School Board in November voted to approve hiring Shannon Crombie, a social studies teacher in the Canon-McMillan School District, as an assistant principal at Plum High School.

Crombie, who is scheduled to start the job in January, also is a lawyer.

She will replace Michael Loughren, who in August was hired as principal of Carlynton High School.

8The Plum School Board in October votes to approve the creation of an autism-support classroom beginning in the 2014-15 school year at Center Elementary School.

The classroom is to include students in kindergarten through fourth grade from throughout the district and will have a main classroom and sensory room.

The board's action follows the hiring in February of two psychologists to serve what Superintendent Timothy Glasspool said is a growing number of special-education and gifted-education children.

The two psychologists — Kelly Gibson and Dana Iera — replaced Dawn Andrews who retired earlier last year.

9Former Plum Mayor Al Franci, a Democrat, who owned a business in the borough and was instrumental in the creation of Plum Emergency Medical Services, dies on Nov. 22.

Borough officials announce earlier this month that they will name the new ambulance base and fire station building in Franci's honor.

10Longtime community volunteer and Democratic committee woman Polly Schmeck, 82, is recognized in January by borough council for her decades of volunteer service, as she steps down from the Plum Borough Community Library Board of Directors.

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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