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Briefs: Mayor to speak on city budget woes

| Wednesday, March 10, 2004

City
Brighton Heights
Mayor to speak on city budget woes

Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy will discuss the city's financial crisis at public forums in three neighborhoods this month.

He will be the guest speaker at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Brighton Heights Citizens Federation meeting, which will be held at Brighton-McClure Presbyterian Church at the corner of Brighton Road and Benton Avenue. The doors open at 7 p.m.

Murphy will speak at 6 p.m. March 16 at the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp. meeting in the BGC Community Activity Center, 113 N. Pacific Ave. Residents who plan to attend should call (412) 441-6950 or e-mail Rflanag@aol.com.

The third forum, sponsored by East Liberty Development Inc. is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. March 22 at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave.

Oakland
Man shot, killed trying to break up fight

A Wilkinsburg man was shot in the head and killed early Tuesday as he tried to break up a fight between his former and current girlfriend during a brawl in an Oakland tavern, police said.

Pittsburgh police were searching last night for the ex-girlfriend, hoping she could identify two men who shot at Frank Winston, 32.

Investigators said the suspects are friends or possibly relatives of the ex-girlfriend, and that they got into an argument with Winston after the fight shortly before 2 a.m. inside the Luna Bar on North Craig Street.

Winston was at the tavern with his current girlfriend and the two women began fighting. As Winston was trying to break up the fight, one man pulled out a gun and fired but missed. The second man grabbed the gun and fired the fatal shot, police said.

Brookline
Man says preschooler invented rape story

A former computer teacher accused of raping a preschooler told a jury Tuesday that the girl fabricated her rape claim.

Chris Tarasi, 30, of Brighton Heights, also testified that his accuser, then 4, was one of four students who inexplicably took off their clothes during a lesson at Seton Preschool Childrens Center in Brookline in October 2001.

Tarasi, who worked for a private computer instruction contractor at the time of the incident, is charged with rape and other offenses. He is awaiting trial on charges of fondling a girl at Horace Mann Elementary School in Brighton Heights.

Downtown
Ricciardi wants citizens to review police training

City Council President Gene Ricciardi introduced a resolution Tuesday asking the Citizen Police Review Board to take a hard look at training standards, policies and practices of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. The study would focus on defensive and offensive police tactics related to the use of force.

Ricciardi said he decided to ask for the independent review after he attended a recent summit on police procedures sponsored by the Pittsburgh Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The state mandates 754 hours of basic training for police officer candidates, as well as 12 hours of annual academic in-service training. However, the law doesn't require specific training in the use of less-than-lethal-force technology, Ricciardi said.

Point Breeze
Counterfeiting suspect claims bills a prank

An attorney for a Point Breeze man told a federal jury Tuesday that his client gave a friend about $2,000 in counterfeit $20 bills as "a joke" but never passed the bills or intended to defraud anyone.

John Woodyear, 19, a former student at Penn State University who is charged with making counterfeit money, gave the bills that he printed on his computer to Vikram Yamba, 19, of Turtle Creek, "as a prank on a friend," attorney Joseph Williams said.

But Yamba testified that he agreed to pay Woodyear $100 in genuine money for $1,000 counterfeit, and told Woodyear that he was passing the bills at restaurants.

Yamba, a student at Community College of Allegheny County, and Robert Armstrong, 19, of Duquesne, were arrested in May after attempting to pass two fake $20 bills at a restaurant. The trial resumes today.

North Side
Thief poses as water worker to enter homes

Pittsburgh police issued a warning Tuesday about a scam artist preying on elderly residents.

Four times in the past week, a man has gotten into residents' homes under the ruse that he needs to check their water systems, then stolen money from their bedrooms, said police, who believe the same man committed all of the thefts.

The man took $125 from a couple on Hybla Street early yesterday afternoon after knocking on their door and saying he needed to check for water leaks. He hit another home a few hours later on Bonaventure Way in Brighton Heights. The man also got away with $700 Monday from the home of a woman on the South Side. The fourth incident was reported March 4 in Stanton Heights.

The man was described as being white, in his 40s, about 6 feet tall and approximately 250 pounds. He spoke Italian to several of the victims. Anyone with information is asked to call 911.

Missing boy returns home unharmed

A North Side teen who was missing over the weekend after a fight with other boys returned home Tuesday morning unharmed, Pittsburgh police said.

Jandy Wade, 13, refused to tell police where he was hiding for three days or why he left home.

Wade was assaulted by several youths last week in Northview Heights, police said. On Friday, one of the youths was seen loitering outside Columbus Middle School. That night, Wade did not come home and his family reported him missing on Monday.

Police are checking reports that the youth outside Wade's school had a gun.

East

Forest Hills Police choose officer to partner with dog

Forest Hills police Officer Brian Armstrong has been named the borough's K-9 officer, police Chief Bill Fabrizi said.

Armstrong will visit Vohne Liche Kennel in Denver, Ind., to be partnered with a German shepherd. Community groups raised $28,000 to buy and train a police dog.

A near riot at the Ardmore Roller Skating Palace in March 2002 and the June 2003 shooting and wounding of Forest Hills police Officer Ed Limbacher were factors in the decision to get a police dog, officials said.

Monroeville
Council OKs plan to finish project

Monroeville Council on Tuesday night approved plans for Gateway School District to complete a $31.3 million renovation project at the high school.

Last month, council tabled a vote on the plans because members wanted assurance that the district would make good on a promise to build a sidewalk along Old William Penn Highway near Gateway Middle School. Assistant Superintendent Cleveland Steward last night said the sidewalk, expected to extend from the 4400 to the 4500 block of Old William Penn Highway, will be completed this summer. Municipal officials estimated the sidewalk would cost about $88,000.

Plum
Council gives contract to community firm

Plum council has voted to hire Three Rivers Power Sweep Inc. of Plum at $89 an hour to clean borough streets.

Council rejected the low bid of $86.50 an hour from Russell Standard Corp. of Bridgeville.

Councilman Chuck McMeekin said he favored the Plum company because he believes "someone in the community is more conscientious about their work."

South
Castle Shannon
Unruly passenger gets 8-month term

A Castle Shannon woman who pleaded guilty to charges of attacking a federal air marshal and interfering with a crew on a flight from Pittsburgh to the Twin Cities was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in prison in Minnesota.

Dawn L. Sunday, 38, of Willow Avenue North, also was sentenced to three years of supervised release following prison, ordered to participate in a mental health program and instructed to undergo periodic drug testing, according to federal prosecutors in St. Paul.

Sunday admitted to having a few drinks on Dec. 30 before screaming rude comments, pushing a flight attendant and fighting with the federal marshal who intervened, prosecutors said.

West
Moon
Robert Morris adding new programs

Robert Morris University in Moon will add a School of Education and a School of Nursing and Allied Health to its academic offerings in August.

John E. Graham, associate vice president of academic affairs, will serve as the founding dean of the education school, and Lynda J. Davidson will be the founding dean of the nursing and allied health school.

The current education program, housed in the School of Communications and Information Systems, has 470 students and offers education degrees in business, English, communications, mathematics, social studies and elementary education.

The nursing and allied health program is in response to the growth of the bachelor of science and master of science degree programs in nursing.

Carnegie
Gunman robs man after ATM withdrawal

A man who was walking to his car after making a withdrawal from an automated teller machine on West Main Street in Carnegie was robbed by a man armed with a handgun, police said Tuesday.

The robber -- who fled on foot following Monday night's holdup -- is described as being black and in his late teens, about 6 feet tall and 130 pounds. He is clean shaven with cornrows in his hair and wore a black jacket, black cap, black T-shirt and baggy jeans.

Anyone who might have witnessed the crime is asked to call police at (412) 276-4245.

Mon Valley
North Braddock
Son-in-law gets life term in slaying

A North Braddock man was sentenced to life in prison without parole Tuesday for strangling his mother-in-law in 2000 to silence the woman about an affair they were having.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Lester G. Nauhaus sentenced David Repasky, 26, who was convicted of first-degree murder for killing Lynda McClelland, 44, on July 2, 2000.

McClelland's body was missing for nearly three years until a former friend told police that he buried McClelland as a favor to Repasky.

The man told officers Repasky confessed to killing McClelland after she threatened to tell her daughter about the affair. The informant led police to her grave in a wooded lot in Wilkins.

Region
Allegheny County
Councilman suggests bonus for thriftiness

Tired of department directors begging Allegheny County Council for more money at year's end, Councilman Ron Francis suggested Tuesday night that those directors might need some incentive to keep their spending down.

"If you save $100,000, you get a $10,000 bonus," Francis, R-Ben Avon, suggested during a finance committee meeting.

Late last year, the county shifted about $1 million to six row offices that would have been over budget. The money came from department heads and row officers who spent less than they were given. If that sort of frugality is rewarded with a percentage-based bonus, departmental cutbacks will save tax dollars, Francis said.

Datelines

  • Plum: Plum Mayor John Schmeck said the beautification committee will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the borough building to evaluate the beautification program on Route 909.

  • Moon: A public meeting to collect information from township residents on recreation and park needs in Moon will be held at 7 tonight at the township municipal building. More meetings are planned.

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