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Grant will help fund pavilion, garden, trail work in Homer City

| Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, 3:06 p.m.

Homer City Council on Monday agreed to accept a $43,000 state grant to assist with recreational improvements in the borough.

According to borough manager Rob Nymick, the project will include construction of a pavilion and installation of a community garden in an area next to a public boat launch, located near Homer City's former FMC plant. Also planned are some flower beds and some work on the Hoodlebug Trail near Cooper Alley.

“In the spring and summer, we want to get started on it,” Nymick said of the project.

He indicated borough in-kind services would serve as a local match for the funding.

Council also agreed to have its former president, Richard Morris, sign documents to formally accept the grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources since, Nymick noted, “It's in Richard Morris' name.”

Morris was not among members attending this month's council meeting, which was moved to Monday to coincide with council's annual reorganization. During the reorganization, Matt Black was elected as council's new president while Joe Iezzi was retained as vice president. Also attending were Jennifer Jaworski and Chris Worcester.

Council agreed, for the remainder of the year, to hold public meetings according to the same schedule used in past years. Regular council meetings will be held at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month; committee meetings will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, as needed.

Council also voted to retain: Mike Supinka as solicitor; all borough employees, with Nymick serving as treasurer and Karen Valyo as secretary; McCrory and McCrory as auditors; Bankson Engineers as structural engineers and Gibson and Thomas as Main Street engineers.

Borough officials announced they would accept letters for a two-week period from residents interested in an appointment to a two-year term on council. The vacancy resulted because Kenneth “Cal” Cecconi won election in November to both the mayor's office and a council seat. He turned down the council position in order to continue for another four years as mayor. Cecconi was not present at Monday's meeting.

It was noted that Elizabeth Brown, who recently completed a term on council, had expressed interest in the vacancy. She attended Monday's meeting as an audience member.

During Monday's regular session, council voted to spend an amount not to exceed $6,000 toward costs in the first year of a proposed five-year plan for acquiring a new police cruiser.

“We have enough in our savings to cover this,” Nymick said. “It opens up the door that we can get the car in the next 30 days.”

He indicated the police department should then have enough in its budget — together with a separate savings account totaling about $3,800 and proceeds from the sale of two older cruisers — to cover costs in 2015 for financing the new vehicle.

Police Sgt. Anthony Jellison said the department had looked into an option to finance the new cruiser at an annual cost of $5,600 over five years. At the end of that term, the borough could then complete the purchase for an additional $1.

Jellison cited a base price of $23,000 for the new car. He said it would cost another $7,000 to install all-new police equipment, but he indicated the mayor was trying to decide, “What can we use from the old cars that will fit the new car?”

Jellison added that installing a new mobile radio would cost about $2,500.

Iezzi spoke out against the idea of reusing equipment from older police vehicles, explaining that officers need to have reliable equipment at their disposal. “It doesn't make sense to buy a new car and put old stuff on it,” he said.

Police Chief Louis Sacco said a 2001 Ford Crown Victoria is still being used by the department but is in poor condition. Nymick noted the borough had received a bid of $828 from an individual interested in purchasing that vehicle but did not take up the offer because it was decided to continue using the car until a new cruiser was obtained. The borough recently sold its other older police vehicle, a 2005 Crown Victoria, to a bidder for $2,300 and was planning to complete the transfer this week.

It was noted that the Bondra family has made a donation of $500 to the police department in appreciation of the services and assistance it has provided to the family.

“Awesome,” Black commented.

Council agreed to have Supinka review and formally draft several proposed ordinances that Nymick said he, Sacco and the borough planning commission have been working to develop over the last two months.

According to Nymick, the various ordinances address: demolition of dangerous structures; property maintenance; a requirement for landlords to list tenants age 18 or older; trees overhanging streets or sidewalks; animal nuisances; and storage of junk.

Nymick said some of the wording in the proposed ordinances would enable himself or Sacco to determine, “without being an engineer,” that a window smashed out of a building should be replaced. But, he said, “To condemn a building, we're going to need an engineer, and that's going to be expensive.”

Nymick noted the proposed language addressing property conditions was prompted by “several complaints by a resident.”

Without ordinances in place, he said the borough currently has no process at hand for addressing such complaints.

In other business, council reappointed Mickey Nymick to the Central Indiana County Water Authority.

In his manager's report, Nymick noted that 800,000 gallons of authority water had been used to put out three recent fires in the borough.

He reported that borough employees had put in “a lot of overtime hours, but we're OK.”

As for keeping up with the early winter snows, he indicated the borough had about 40 tons of salt on hand but was “a little bit low” on anti-skid material, which he hoped to replenish.

Nymick said the borough would continue to collect used Christmas trees and is planning to trim trees along Main Street once weather permits.

Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or jhimler@tribweb.com.

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