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Rostraver commissioners taking legal action against hauler

| Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010

The township commissioners yesterday approved taking legal action against Agape Trucking Inc. for failure to provide information needed for state reimbursement regarding a recycling program.

George Martin, chairman of the board of commissioners, said the board has not been able to get receipts from the township-based refuse hauler for the township's 2008 recycling program that must be turned in to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The state reimburses the township for each year it offers the recycling program.

"We have contacted Agape Trucking numerous times by correspondence telling them that we need these reports," Martin said. "We are in default with the DEP."

Commissioner Brian Sokol said the township could miss out on up to $25,000 in reimbursement for 2008.

The money would go into the township's solid waste fund, which pays for refuse hauling contracts.

Sokol said customer rates could increase if the fund loses that money.

"If we don't get this $25,000, when we go to rebid this garbage, the residents are going to be forced to pony up and make that difference," he said. "We had numerous contacts into Agape to get these and we're not getting anything,"

Solicitor Timothy Maatta said the commissioners have been asking for the receipts for more than six months.

"This is the first year we haven't got our reports," he said.

Commissioner Pat Egros voted against taking legal action.

"I understand there may be some questions out there and conflicting numbers floating back and forth," he said. "We haven't received any real numbers from Agape Trucking."

Agape had been the township's refuse hauler for several years.

The commissioners in 2009 switched to Big's Trucking Inc., of Rostraver Township.

Attempts to reach Agape Trucking owner James Schoaf for comment were unsuccessful.

The commissioners passed a motion prohibiting township firefighters from belonging to fire departments from other municipalities.

Sokol, who is president of the Rostraver Central Fire Department, said the commissioners had to set restrictions because of worker's compensation issues.

"If both companies were at the same call, if somebody gets hurt, who's responsible for workers compensation?" Sokol said.

There are three departments in the township.

Sokol said Rostraver Central and the Collinsburg department had already made membership exclusive.

The third department, Rostraver No. 1 in Webster, had not, Sokol said.

Sokol said there are several people who may no longer be able to continue serving as township firefighters because of the new requirement.

There is no residency requirement for joining the township departments.

"That is being looked into," Sokol said.

The commissioners also passed a motion setting minimum training requirements for the township's firefighters.

Drivers, rescue responders, and apprentice, probationary, exterior and interior firefighters, each are required to have 12 hours of in-house training and must complete certain state training courses, according to the motion.

Sokol said a member of the Webster department recently told the commissioners that members of his outfit had not received non-mandated training in five years.

"This is not to deter anyone from being a volunteer fireman," Martin said of the membership and training requirements. "Our volunteer firemen are highly appreciated. It's just a safety measure for everyone concerned."

Indian Hill Road resident Bill Hrach once again came to the commissioners to ask for water service for his home and others.

Hrach said he filed a petition to the commissioners in November 2006 to have service extended to about 30 homes in the area.

The commissioners have said the location is a low-pressure area and that it would be too expensive to direct water up the hill from Route 201.

After an effort fell short to have homeowners fill out income surveys with hopes of securing grant money, Hrach said he was forced to replace a cistern on his property with a well at a cost of $8,000.

Hrach said four oil and gas well drilling operations within 1,000 feet from his well ruined the water supply.

He said he has reverted to using the cistern and must pay a considerable amount to treat the water.

Hrach said he is a foster parent of three children he wants to adopt and may not be able to because Child and Youth Services requires a sustained water supply at his home.

Commissioner Nick Lorenzo told Hrach to have the homeowners fill out income surveys again because the income guidelines may have lowered.

Martin told Hrach to contact the DEP because the agency could order the oil and gas well companies to provide a water supply at his home.

The commissioners passed a motion to advertise for a new road department foreman to replace the retiring Thomas Backstrom.

Egros voted against the motion, saying that Backstrom had suggested hiring internally.

Martin said township employees will also be considered.

The commissioners approved advertising for bids for repaving of roads in Clair Manor.

Roads in the Sweeney Plan are also on the paving list.

The commissioners hired Ryan A. Pokorny, of Pittsburgh, as a part-time police patrolman at $11.85 an hour.

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