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Cranberry senatorial office closes

| Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Bill Vidonic | Tribune-Review
Corey Shively, a contractor with Dc Builders in West Deer, moves items from the former Cranberry office of state Sen. Randy Vulakovich. Due to reapportionment, Vulakovich won’t represent Cranberry any longer. Sen. Scott Hutchinson now represents Cranberry and southwestern Butler County, but will not open an office in Cranberry.

For the first time in years, Cranberry residents won't have a full-time office for state Senate constituent services at the township municipal building.

Workers at the end of December cleared out furniture and other items belonging to employees of state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, a Shaler Republican.

“It's important to have representation here,” said Ron Henshaw, Cranberry's director of community development. “It does leave a bit of a gap for us.”

Vulakovich said that the office just wasn't used enough to justify keeping it open.

“We were getting maybe seven people a week in there. Historically, it hasn't been used a lot,” he said.

Vulakovich said that despite the low traffic, he wanted to keep the Cranberry office open after he took office in August, 2012, replacing state Sen. Jane Orie, who resigned after she was convicted of forgery and related offenses.

“I left the office open so they wouldn't think they were forgotten,” Vulakovich said.

Vulakovich said he'll continue to represent Cranberry residents through the November general election as legislative districts shift under reapportionment. Cranberry would no longer fall under the 40th Legislative District, which is represented by Vulakovich.

Cranberry residents will become part of the 21st Legislative District, represented by state Sen. Scott Hutchinson, an Oil City Republican.

Cranberry, with nearly 29,000 residents, will be the largest municipality in his district and is one of the fastest-growing communities in Western Pennsylvania, according to U.S. Census figures.

Hutchinson has represented northern sections of Butler County, along with all of Clarion, Forest and Venango counties and part of Warren County, including the city of Warren.

With the redistricting, Hutchinson will pick up several communities along the southwestern border of Butler County down to Cranberry.

Hutchinson, who was elected in November 2012, has constituent offices in Warren, Butler and Oil City.

For those in Cranberry, Butler is about a 30-minute drive.

His staff could possibly schedule some hours at the township building or in the Cranberry area, Hutchinson said, but no formal plans have been made.

“It's a balancing act, and it's a money thing,” Hutchinson said.

“I am spread out over five counties, and I have to do my best to cover what I can. I have already been supportive of things within all of Butler County and that will continue going forward.”

Henshaw said state senators have had a legislative office in the township municipal building dating back at least to former state Sen. Melissa Hart.

Hart served as a state legislator from 1991 until 2000, when she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Cranberry in 2013 charged just under $9,800 in rent to the office.

“It's not the best situation, but it's one we'll have to deal with,” Henshaw said.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, is still maintaining an office in the township building for the 12th Legislative District.

That office can be reached by calling 724-772-3110.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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