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To stand trial

| Tuesday, April 20, 2004

A Fayette County man already sentenced for the sexual assault of a teenage girl with whom he was having an affair will stand trial for allegedly setting an apartment house fire in Fairchance last fall that killed a man.

Charges of criminal homicide, arson and reckless endangerment filed against Richard Alan Saluga, 30, whose last known address was 520 Independence St., Uniontown, were held for trial Monday after a preliminary hearing before Fairchance District Justice Randy Abraham.

Saluga is accused of setting a fire in the early morning hours of Sept. 14 at the 71 W. Church St., Fairchance, apartment house where he, his family and six others then lived.

William Earnest Mason, 76, of Point Marion, was staying with friend Barbara Strauch in the building at the time of the fire. He died of burns and smoke inhalation when he wasn't able to escape the flames. There were no other serious injuries.

Saluga has been held in the Fayette County Prison without bond since his arrest just days after the blaze. He had agreed several months ago to a plea bargain in another case that carried a sentence of 21/2 to 5 years for the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl.

Saluga faces arraignment May 20. Until then, he will remain in jail without bond.

Reinstates worker

The Fayette County Housing Authority on Monday rehired the second of two employees fired in February after an internal investigation showed several missing appliances had ended up in employees' hands.

By a 4-1 vote, the authority decided to reinstate Dennis Barclay, the director of housing management.

Barclay and authority mechanic Tom DiDominic were fired on Feb. 24, one week after three other employees had been suspended on the same grounds.

A five-month investigation showed that several appliances cleared out of housing units during demolition projects were taken by employees. The authority also alleged that records of the items were not properly kept.

DiDominic was rehired on April 1 by a 3-1 vote. Board member William Radcliffe was absent that day.

As an authority mechanic, DiDominic earns a salary of about $42,000. He will not receive retroactive back pay for the time he was off.

In both rehires, the dissenting vote came from board Chairwoman Angela Zimmerlink, who said she thinks the employees' behavior -- not the missing appliances -- was the issue.

"I think it sends the wrong message, not only to the employees of the housing authority but to the people of Fayette County," she said. "The board members are responsible for setting the tone. I think we set the wrong tone."

As director of housing management, Barclay managed the authority's site managers and collected debts owed to the authority.

According to authority records, Barclay makes $55,492 annually. Like DiDominic, he will not receive back pay for his lost time.

Food distribution

Leisenring's monthly food bank distribution will be held from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Leisenring Presbyterian Church.

Charges filed

Dunbar Township Code Enforcement Officer Roger Adams filed charges on April 19 against two Leisenring residents for failure to clean up their properties.

Cited were George Kozakovsky and Harry Johnson, both of Church Street, Leisenring. Both men will appear before District Justice Dwight Shaner. If convicted, both men could face a fine of $300.

Cartridges

Students from Ridgeview Academy Charter School in Latrobe, the first and only charter school in Westmoreland County, have been recycling empty printer cartridges and used cell phones in an effort to keep these items out of landfills. As a reward for their efforts, the school is earning free technology equipment through the Funding Factory Recycling Program.

Area businesses can help the school earn technology equipment points by donating used printer cartridges and cell phones and dropping them off at Ridgeview Academy Charter School, 1005 Village Way, Latrobe. For more information, call Jennifer Flock at 724-537-9110.

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