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Energy Fund charity raises $2,300

| Thursday, Nov. 22, 2001, 12:00 p.m.

The Light-Up Night celebration last week did more than just usher in the holiday season with a festive display of electric illumination. It also helped turn on the heat for low-income Pennsylvanians having trouble with their utility bills.

The $1 Energy Fund raised more than $2,300 to assist the less fortunate in heating their homes before the cold winter months hit, the charity announced Wednesday.

"We're so grateful for the continued generosity of Pittsburghers to help their neighbors in need," said Suzanna Masartis, director of development for the fund.

While the Light-Up Night fund-raiser Downtown was a success, she said most of the charity's $1.4 million goal for this season's grant assistance program still must be raised.

The $1 Energy Fund provides assistance with gas, light and water bills in the form of grants matched by utility companies.

Contributions are tax-deductible, and can be made online at www.dollarenergy.org or with a check made out to the charity and mailed to the utility provider or sent directly to $1 Energy Fund at P.O. Box 42329, Pittsburgh, PA 15203-0329.

Uptown

Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter will join forensic scientists and legal scholars in a seminar Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Duquesne University on DNA's impact on law enforcement.

"DNA and the Law: Reining in the Revolution" is co-sponsored by Duquesne's School of Law and its Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law. Topics include educating the forensic DNA analyst, the role of the forensic pathologist in DNA use and the journalist's role.

Besides Specter, a Republican from Philadelphia, other scheduled speakers are state Attorney General Mike Fisher and Barry C. Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project and a law professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

The cost to attend the Uptown seminar is $195 for one day and $350 for both. To register, call (412) 396-4801.

Beaver County

The Rochester Area School District could be hit with a strike at any time - but the teachers won't be picketing.

The union representing the Beaver County district's 29 cafeteria and maintenance workers voted this week to give their negotiating team the right to call a strike if contract negotiations don't soon improve.

Members of the Rochester Area School District Support Personnel Association have been working without a contract since June 30.

Under state law, they must give the district 48 hours notice of a strike, which hasn't been done. Chief negotiator Art Fazio said the district is not allowed to replace the workers with temporary staff or parent volunteers.

A state-appointed fact finder last week blamed the impasse on poor communication between school board members and the union. District administrators haven't challenged the union's proposed wage requests.

The union wants starting wages of $6.50 an hour for cafeteria workers, $7.50 for custodians and $9.50 for maintenance workers. Cafeteria workers and custodians now start at $5.25 and maintenance workers at $7.

Beaver County

The New Brighton Area School Board in Beaver County is considering a policy that would allow relatives of school board members and administrators to get jobs with the district.

The school board is expected to vote on a revised nepotism policy next month. In a preliminary decision in October, school board members voted 6-2 to approve the plan.

The policy now states that relatives of board members and administrators cannot be hired by the school district. Before the existing policy was revised in 1998, relatives of teachers also were prohibited from getting jobs with the district.

The new policy would allow relatives to be hired only if related school board members abstain from voting for family members.

Cambria County

With enrollment falling, two Roman Catholic schools in Johnstown, Cambria County, say they will consider the possibility of merging.

''We're going to have ongoing discussions, try to get feedback from the parents and the school board and from the pastors,'' said the Rev. Andrew Stanko, pastor at West End Catholic.

Enrollment at West End and Central Catholic elementary schools continues to fall. Both schools have students in kindergarten through eighth grade. At Central, there are 113 students; at West End, 121 students.

Church officials say no decision has been made about the schools, which are about a mile apart. If the discussions move forward, officials could decide to close one of the schools or merge and use both buildings - keeping one for younger students and the other as a middle school.

Cambria County

Two former bank buildings will be demolished starting in December to make room for a $26 million expansion project at UPMC Lee Regional hospital.

The new wing will include an emergency department, and units dedicated to women's care, obstetrics and a rehabilitation unit. The rehabilitation unit will have 40 beds, 25 for rehabilitation patients and 15 for orthopedic patients and other uses.

The wing will cost $22 million, but $4 million in renovations also will occur at the existing hospital.

As part of the renovation, the existing emergency room will be converted to an outpatient diagnostic center and several semiprivate rooms will be converted to private rooms.

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