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Vandalism charges filed against teens

| Saturday, March 24, 2007

Perryopolis police have charged two 14-year-old borough girls, a 15-year-old borough boy and a 15-year-old Dawson boy with criminal trespassing and criminal mischief.

Police said that at 9 p.m. on March 2 the juveniles entered a locked women's restroom at Sampey Park and caused $319 worth of damage.

Should the juveniles be found guilty of the summary charges, police will seek restitution on behalf of the borough, which owns the property.

Mt. Pleasant

Sewage rate increase

won't be large

Mt. Pleasant residents won't see a large increase in sewage bills because of a recent $2 million PennVEST loan, officials say.

Councilman Larry Tate presented figures from auditors Sarp & Co. that reflect a significantly lower increase than the $12.50 to $12.75 per quarter previously discussed.

Because Mt. Pleasant Township agreed to pay off half the loan, the borough will be responsible for about $1 million.

"You can't get much better than this unless someone came down and laid $2 million on the table," Tate said. "Having the township cover half the cost of the loan is like getting a grant."

Sarp & Co. also proposed the borough and municipal authority look into raising rates $1 per month, which will bring in an additional $22,800 for the authority.

Uniontown

Traffic changes

on Route 119 bridge

PennDOT District 12 announced traffic pattern changes on a bridge on Route 119 that goes over Route 2027 (Connellsville Street) in North Union Township. A single lane restriction will be in place, beginning Monday.

The project includes concrete deck repairs, overlay and roadway approach milling and paving. The contractor for this $717,701 project is Mosites Construction Co., of Pittsburgh.

Bridge inspection

on Route 3027

A routine inspection of a bridge on Route 3027 (Hopwood Fairchance Road) in South Union Township is scheduled to take place Monday, between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., according to PennDOT District 12. This bridge carries Route 3027 over Route 40. The inspection process is weather-dependent.

Motorists traveling through this area will encounter minimal delays as the contractor closes off the shoulders of Route 40 bypass under the Route 3027 overpass. One shoulder at a time will be closed.

Connellsville

No one injured

in Race St. car fire

Nobody was injured and no structures were in danger after a Tuesday night car fire.

Connellsville City police Chief Stephen Cooper said the car fire occurred at 4:36 p.m. after Wendy Watson, of Connellsville, stepped out of her parked vehicle at her residence along Race Street. When she turned around, her car was on fire.

New Haven Hose Company responded to extinguish the blaze. Cooper said there were no signs of tampering with the car.

Greensburg

Jail overcrowding

plan pushed through

Westmoreland County commissioners this week pushed through a plan they say will help to curb overcrowding at the jail.

The county will hire a population monitor at the Westmoreland County Prison to ensure that inmates are discharged on time from the facility and to explore diversionary programs for others sentenced to jail time.

Officials for the last several months increasingly have become concerned that the number of inmates incarcerated at the county lockup will exceed capacity of the facility by this summer. Earlier this month there were 610 inmates at the prison; it can accommodate up to 691 inmates.

A population monitor will review case files and other records to determine whether inmates are eligible for release or could be diverted into other programs.

What the monitor will not do is calculate sentence lengths and ensure inmates are not released early, said Commissioner Tom Ceraso, who serves as chairman of the county prison board.

Three inmates have been released prematurely from the jail in the last year. County and court officials have clashed over who holds responsibility for ensuring inmates serve out the duration of their minimum sentences.

The commissioners along with Controller Carmen Pedicone, acting as members of the county's salary board, created the prison population monitor job.

The job will pay $35,336 annually.

The prison board could fill the position as early as next month, said Warden John Walton.

Harrisburg

'Smooth Operator'

program is expanding

PennDOT is investing $2 million into its "Smooth Operator" enforcement efforts, which will include 15 Pennsylvania state police troops and 175 local police departments. Police will conduct five weeks of aggressive driving enforcement, from March 25-31, July 1-7, Aug. 5 -11 and Sept. 2-15. Police will be targeting aggressive driving behaviors, including speeding, tailgating, running red lights or stop signs and unsafe lane changes.

PennDOT's funding will pay for police training and overtime, and equipment such as wireless infrared speed detectors. In addition, state and local police departments cooperate during enforcement efforts on local roads. State police can run radar or use aircraft to assist local police departments with stopping aggressive drivers.

According to PennDOT, aggressive driving played a role in 1,016 of 1,616 fatalities in Pennsylvania in 2005, the most recent year for which data is available.

Last summer, PennDOT conducted a successful 12-county pilot of Smooth Operator, which resulted in more than 18,000 citations and arrests.

More information about Smooth Operator is available at www.smoothoperatorprogram.com.

-- Staff reports

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