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Hires, growth set tone at Kittanning council meeting

| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 12:16 a.m.

KITTANNING — Monday's borough council meeting was uncharacteristically upbeat as council discussed signs of positive growth in the borough and reported on newly hired workers.

Vice President Andy Peters, conducting the session in the absence of President Chris Schiano, called an executive session to discuss personnel issues regarding the hiring of a new full-time worker for the public works department.

Following the 15-minute session, council members Mike Rosenberger, Betsy Wilt, Joie Pryde, Kim Fox and Peters voted 5-0 to hire Jay Beck for the position.

Councilmen Ange Turco, Richard Reedy and Schiano were absent.

Police Chief Bruce Mathews gave council an update on another recently hired borough employee.

Officer Eric Smith was hired June 20 to fill a full-time floater position and has become the eighth officer in the borough police department. That total number includes Mathews.

“We're glad to have him on board,” said Mathews.

Mayor Kirk Atwood added: “We're very happy with the work he's done so far.”

Mathews also told council of a recent $2,800 donation from the Kittanning Eagles Lodge to the police department.

The money will buy laptop computers for two police cars, said Mathews.

“This was a very welcome surprise,” he said after the meeting. “I had to call and make sure it was right.”

More positive news related to the police department came from Fox, who announced that a sum of $250 had been donated from a former council member for the K9 fund.

That amount has brought the total donations to $4,650, which is in an account at F&M Bank. Fox said that two signatures are needed for any transaction on the account — her own and Pryde's. She requested that council vote to add Mathews as a third authorized person to sign off on transactions. Council voted 5-0 on the matter.

Fox also noted positive signs of growth in town and welcomed, on behalf of borough council, three new businesses that have sprouted up: the Villa Rosa Restaurant, Cake Concepts and Pine Creek Winery.

Rosebud Mining was also praised for paying the total cost associated with paving and updating the public parking lot in the first block of South McKean Street.

Wilt said the company also paved the alley adjoining the parking lot and the sidewalks in front of the buildings they had razed. Rosebud has told the borough that if the revitalization does not move forward, the company will replace the paved sidewalks with concrete, said Wilt.

Looking ahead to upcoming events this month, Pryde announced that a Jam on Market event is planned for July 27 featuring live bands.

“It will be a summer night out in downtown,” she said.

And in keeping within the theme of outdoor fun, Mathews dispelled some recent confusion about whether recreational burning is allowed in the borough. He said that he spoke with an official from the Department of Environmental Protection who said that recreational fires are permitted.

In other borough matters, council voted 5-0 to pass a resolution to apply for the Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone (KOEZ) designations in regards to the future of the Kittanning Middle School and High School buildings.

Those schools are due to close with the opening of the new high school in Manor Township in 2015.

The KOEZ designation would provide significant state and local tax benefits to the owner and opportunities for community-building programs.

According to the motion council voted on, it will potentially “foster economic opportunities, stimulate industrial, commercial and residential improvements and prevent physical and infrastructure deterioration within Kittanning Borough.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or

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