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Activists challenge Indiana Township supervisors

Tawnya Panizzi
| Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007

Township residents should see some heated action in November's races for supervisor.

Three contestants with longstanding history of community activism will try to unseat incumbents in Districts 1, 2, and 3.

Republican Dan Taylor is running unopposed in District 4.

In District 1, Democratic newcomer Bill Rovnak will challenge Republican Bart Buckley.

Rovnak said he wants to focus on community development, primarily responsible development.

"My concern is that I want to keep our community as rural as possible," said Rovnak, who is a volunteer for the township's annual Youth Day celebration.

"I want to keep it as green as possible."

Development is welcome, Rovnak said, but in a way that doesn't usurp the township's serenity.

He wants to ensure that industrial and commercial sites go hand in hand with green sites that protect the township's history.

Rovnak's opponent, Bart Buckley, has served on the board of supervisors since 2003.

He said a goal for the next four years would be to find way to increase services to residents "while holding the line on taxes, if not reducing them," he said, "given the proposed residential growth and increased revenue the township will see in the coming years.

"I would like to see through to completion the new municipal complex currently under construction," he said, citing that the building includes space for an extensive community center in a 17,000-square-foot portion of the building.

Buckley particularly likes that the community center will be centrally located.

Other priorities, he said, would be looking for increased funding for the volunteer fire departments and continued improvements to the park system.

A race in District 2 will pit familiar faces against one another.

Democrat Paul Claus will take on Republican Jeff Peck in a race that is sure to garner much attention.

Claus, whose wife, Dorothy, served as a supervisor for two decades, is well-known and has been an outspoken board critic.

"We ought to bring some common sense back to the township," said Claus, who has previously served as a deputy fire marshal, auxiliary police captain and deputy emergency management coordinator.

Claus complained that the board approved a $50,000 donation to the Boyd Community Center in O'Hara at the same time that they are considering raising taxes in the 2008 budget.

"We're taxing the old people right out of the township," Claus said.

"In the meantime, they're saying our fire departments don't have any money. If they have enough money to send to Boyd Community Center, they should give it to the township fire departments."

Claus is displeased with the board's decision to be paid years ago by Pittsburgh Mills' developer to relocate four acres of wetlands near Emmerling Park.

"That's stagnant water that mosquitoes like, and kids play there," he said.

The incumbent for District 2, Republican Jeff Peck, has served on the board since 1996. He wants to concentrate on growth and development while seeing that taxpayers' funds are safeguarded and spent in an approved manner.

"I want to see that the best possible services are provided to residents and also maintain the professional management of the township," he said.

Peck wants to focus efforts on ways to fund the four volunteer fire departments.

He said board members plan to meet with the fire leaders and review recommendations made by a commissioned study on how best to support the emergency services.

In District 3, township Democratic chairwoman Barbara Cisek will compete against Republican incumbent Darrin Krally.

Cisek has focused her campaign on the development of Rural Ridge. Displeased with the direction of the new Kevin Brozek/Rural Ridge Community Center, Cisek said it was time to fight for the residents of her neighborhood.

"I want to have our community not be overlooked," she said.

Particularly, she said the board's approval of an alternative school at the community center is a direct offense to residents.

"This is supposed to be used for our residents and our community," said Cisek, who helped form the area's crime watch committee and youth day celebration.

Cisek said she served four years on the steering committee for the community center and wanted to bring a library to the facility, which hasn't happened.

"Many people bought homes here based on the future of the community center, and it's not happening like they were told."

Cisek said residents of Rural Ridge seem to be forgotten.

"So much is being done in other areas of the township," she said. "Emmerling Park has new construction and Dorseyville will have the new municipal building. Supervisors floated a bond for that.

"We don't have anything here for seniors."

Her opponent, Darrin Krally, was appointed to the board in October 2006. His "desire to keep Indiana Township the most desirable township" in the region is the focus of his campaign.

Krally, who previously served on the planning commission and parks and recreation board, has a five-step plan "to continue focusing my efforts on both the needs and wants of all residents of Rural Ridge."

His plan includes attracting more businesses and developers to the district and creating a full-fledged operating community center in 2009.

"I want to clean up both Little Deer Creek Road and Marshall Hill Road, and help the Rural Ridge Fire Department obtain more funding," he said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer with The Herald in Aspinwall.

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