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Ford City sets public meeting to discuss water supply

| Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 1:51 a.m.

Ford City Council wants to hear from residents about the best way forward concerning the borough's water supply.

Council voted 6-0 Monday to advertise for a town hall meeting to hear public comment.

The meeting will be March 24 at the Slovak Club, 910 Sixth Ave. It will be followed by a special council meeting to discuss finances and other business.

Councilwoman Vicki Schaub told the 20 or so residents at Monday's council meeting to spread the word.

“This is your chance to speak up,” she said.

The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on four options: The borough can update the existing 90-year-old water plant; build the proposed $2.2 million new water plant facility; or contract with Manor Township or Pennsylvania-American Water to buy water from them.

“We're trying to get accurate information to lay it all out there,” Councilman Jerry Miklos said.

Council has already met with both water companies and will present their proposals during the town hall meeting, Councilman Josh Abernathy said.

Borough Solicitor Anthony Vigilante said it's unclear whether the Department of Environmental Protection is continuing to issue daily $250 fines on the borough after council failed to meet DEP's February deadline about its decision concerning the water issue. According to Vigilante, calls to DEP have not been returned.

The plant generates about $150,000 in annual revenue for the town, Abernathy said.

But, he added, that money should have been pumped back into the plant over the years for infrastructure costs.

In the meantime, borough engineer Jim Garvin opened four bids for the installation of five meter vaults — two at the current plant and one at each of the three wells along Third Avenue.

Last summer, council approved buying the meters to detect water loss. Those meters must be installed in concrete vaults.

“Right now, we're in the bid stages — if we decide to go with a new plant, at least we have the bids ready to go,” Abernathy said.

Of the four bids, the lowest was from Mortimers Excavating of Pulaski for $71,549. Laurel Management of Johnstown came in at $74,000; Terra Works of Clarion bid $81,000, and Stallion Construction of Allison Park had the high bid of $99,500.

Help wanted: Police chief

Ford City may soon have a police chief.

Without any public discussion, council voted 5-1 to advertise the position. Newly elected Councilwoman Vicki Schaub abstained, saying she didn't know enough about the issue.

The move appeared to take Mayor Marc Mantini off guard.

“I should have been notified before on this council matter,” Mantini said.

The borough has not had a police chief for at least eight years, and Mantini has long supported the idea of hiring one. But he said the police department has a lot of expenses.

Hiring a chief would be too costly, he said after the meeting. He said that Sgt. John Atherton has been doing an adequate job as officer-in-charge.

Councilman Josh Abernathy, who is on the police committee, said there is room in the budget. The department includes two full-time sergeants and 15 part-time officers.

This past week, both police cars were out of commission and in need of repairs — one for around $2,000 to replace a starter and the other for $843 in damage resulting from driving the car after a bearing gave out.

Council voted 6-0 approving both repairs.

“We're getting nickled and dimed on these police cars,” Mantini said.

The council approved buying a third used police car this year.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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