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Mt. Pleasant Borough councilwoman swaps role to deliver 'apology'

| Wednesday, July 8, 2015, 12:46 a.m.

Mt. Pleasant Borough Councilwoman Cynthia Stevenson addressed council behind the public comment podium as a private citizen Monday to defend herself from comments recently made during a previous council meeting by a local man.

At council's June 15 meeting, East Huntingdon resident Gerard Rendine, who owns multiple properties in the borough, utilized the public comment period to discuss his frustration with Stevenson, who he said used her position on council to discuss political matters during council meetings.

Specifically, Stevenson said during council's June 1 meeting that she wanted to alert borough voters that the Greater Mt. Pleasant Area Landlord Association is apparently trying to place its own candidates on council, and that many in the association are not borough residents.

Rendine on June 15 subsequently called for Stevenson to apologize to borough residents for making such comments during a business meeting.

At the most recent meeting, Stevenson said she believed an apology was in order, but not to the association.

“My apology is to the voters of Mt. Pleasant for not speaking up about this issue long before I did,” she said.

Stevenson said several association members who make such comments are not citizens of the borough.

The association is the definition of a special interest group, which has never come before council with concerns about parks, potholes, stormwater control, parking regulations or police matters, she added.

“They have one interest, and that's promoting for election those candidates who will agree to repeal the ordinance that requires a simple safety inspection of residential rental properties,” Stevenson said.

She added it would be a dereliction of duty to fail to inform the voters of the borough of her view of what's happening regarding the issue.

Councilman David Pritts addressed council as a public citizen behind the public comment podium while stating that he agreed with Stevenson and that he felt she did not need to issue an apology.

Councilman Paul Wagner said he did not feel council members should discuss political issues in council chambers during a regular meeting that is supposed to be strictly for dealing with borough business.

Borough Mayor Gerald Lucia said as soon as Stevenson left her council seat that she had the same privileges as any other citizen.

When reached for comment following the meeting, Rendine said the association has made multiple efforts to offer ways to help better the borough on a volunteer basis. Those include a proposal to help provide maintenance to borough parks, he said.

“We also made a monetary donation for Christmas street lighting,” Rendine said.

Regarding Stevenson's assertion that the association is trying to place its own candidates on council, Rendine pointed to the results at the polls.

“The bottom line is that the voters of Mt. Pleasant have spoken, and that's who decides who gets to represent them on council,” he said.

Audit report positive

In other business, the borough received a 2014 audit report for 2014 from Sarp & Co.

Company official John Sarp said there were a few deficiencies, which included one check being deposited into the wrong account, which was the bank's error, and one deposit of more than $10,000 that had become lost.

“But all of the checks were reissued and there was no issue there,” he said.

The borough ended 2014 with excess revenues of $54,200.

Borough Manager Jeff Landy said such money goes into the budgetary reserve to be used for unexpected needs that arise throughout the year.

“All in all, it was a very good report, and I think the finance and accounting office is doing a very good job,” Sarp said. “Transparency is everything, and I have seen a lot worse in other boroughs.”

Stormwater project updated

Joe Dietrick, an official with the Markosky Engineering Group Inc. of Ligonier, attended the meeting to update council on a Main Street stormwater project for which council is seeking nearly $900,000 in grant funding on behalf of the Jacobs Creek Watershed Association.

The company is planning to install paver blocks for a portion of the sidewalks along Main Street from Diamond Street west to Church Street to help alleviate stormwater runoff, he said.

Its officials also hope to add water inlets on West Main Street, since none exist there now, and build new inlets on East Main Street to direct runoff to Shupe Run, Dietrick said.

Once the proposed improvements are made, the borough would be responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalks and the inlets, he said.

Dietrick said the company hopes to know by November whether it has received the grant money.

Part-time police officer hired

Council approved a motion to hire Jacob Cavanaugh of Connellsville as a part-time police officer for the borough.

Its members agreed to spend about $2,200 for the construction and installation of a new holding cell inside the borough's police department headquarters by Mt. Pleasant Mine Service Fabrication.

Council announced it plans to reimburse Chief Doug Sam $941 for money he spent on a new computer, printer and polo shirts for the department.

Borough residents were reminded of an ordinance that prohibits grass clippings from being blown into the street because they plug up stormwater basins.

Individuals walking dogs in the borough were asked to keep a bag with them to clean up after them.

Residents were reminded they are responsible to keep roads and alleys near their homes free of tree limbs and brush, and if they are taking any brush or limbs to the street department for disposal, they are asked to bring it when the gates are open.

Rachel Basinger is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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