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Sewickley Township decides on public works director

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Brian Nicholls

Sewickley Township supervisors hired a part-time public works director, a position created after the roadmaster was ousted in January.

Brian Nicholls of Gratztown was hired at the supervisors' meeting March 20 by a 2-0 vote, with Supervisor Joe Kerber abstaining.

“He was taking my job ... I believe what I did was best,” said Kerber, who spent the last two years as roadmaster.

Nicholls, 30, has been Lowber's fire chief since June 2011. He has worked as a foreman for Evans Contracting in Perryopolis for the past three years and has previous experience on the Perryopolis road crew, according to his resumé.

“He's a young man with a family who's very excited to be involved,” said Supervisor Wanda Layman.

Nicholls, who began work at the township March 21, was approved at $18 per hour for up to 25 hours of work per week including a 60-day probationary period.

Residents at the meeting questioned the savings touted by the supervisors after Kerber, who made $52,400 with benefits, was let go in favor of hiring Layman as part-time township coordinator at $10 per hour for 20 to 25 hours of work per week and the public works director.

Layman said officials calculated a $20,000 savings with the two new positions and figures could be requested by the public if necessary.

“He (Nicholls) would basically be overseeing if the jobs are completed” including preliminary and final reviews as well as accompanying paperwork, she said.

Nicholls said he is eager to begin the job and discuss goals with supervisors.

“I just want to get started and see what I can do to help the community here,” he said.

In other business, supervisors approved a resolution to negotiate terms of a $207,000 loan, which will be used to purchase equipment.

Officials also passed an ordinance to seek the loan through First National Bank in Herminie at a fixed-interest rate of 2.95 percent for seven years.

Before it is finalized, the borrowing must be approved by the state Department of Community and Economic Development, as is any loan to a municipality more than $100,000, said township solicitor Dan Hewitt.

“The bank won't allow us to sign final paperwork unless we have DCED approval on the loan,” he said.

The money will be used to purchase a backhoe, grader and skid loader.

Supervisors approved the purchase of a 2009 John Deere grader from Murphy Tractor and Equipment Co. in Delmont at their March 21 meeting.

After a test period with the road crew, the six-wheel-drive machine will be used for snow removal and leveling gravel, replacing a 1974 model.

In order to enforce parking ordinances, supervisors approved corrections needed to update street names and information in the Sewickley Township Code.

Code Enforcement Officer Dean Zimmerman said it was difficult to enforce parking restrictions without the correct legal information in the code, some of which hasn't been updated since 1948.

“We just had to bring the ordinance up to current (standards) and make it consistent,” he said.

Hewitt said other additions and changes may be made after the code is brought up-to-date.

“Some of the references were such that we couldn't take it to the magistrate to enforce them ... we're not adding any new restrictions,” he said, but they can be put in place in the future.

Welch's Yardman of Collinsburg was approved as the lowest bidder for mowing when the grass reaches four inches at most township locations for the summer, including the township building and recreation center lawns, for $388.

T-Parke Lawn and Landscaping of Jeannette was awarded the mowing contract for $525 at Crabapple Park and the sports fields when the grass reaches three inches.

The 2012 audit and financial report were approved by the supervisors, as was annual amounts of pipe and aggregate.

Supervisors also approved advertising of summer positions at Crabapple Pool, where rates of daily admission and membership will remain the same as 2012, which was also approved.

Recreation Director Janet Schork reported that once the weather improves, the department will set an opening date and areas of the complex that need improvements for the 2013 season.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 724-836-6660.