AROUND THE EAST
Be a Santa to seniors
This season, shoppers can give cheer to area seniors by participating in the Be a Santa to a Senior program.
The program — run by the local Home Instead Senior Care offices in partnership with volunteers — helps ensure isolated seniors receive gifts and companionship during the holidays.
An estimated 27 percent of people 65 and older (10.8 million people) are widowed, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Further, the Administration on Aging reports about 28 percent (11.8 million) of non-institutionalized people 65 and older live alone.
Retailers are displaying Christmas trees through Dec. 16 with ornaments with seniors’ first names and gift requests. Holiday shoppers can pick an ornament, buy the items listed and return them unwrapped to the store, with the ornament attached.
The local Home Instead offices will enlist volunteers to collect, wrap and distribute gifts.
Details and tree locations: BeaSantatoaSenior.com.
CHURCHILL, FOREST HILLS
Healthy diet program Saturday
The program “Eat Like a Mediterranean,” sponsored by a partnership between Churchill and Forest Hills, will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Forest Hills Westinghouse Lodge, 900 Barclay Avenue.
Giant Eagle registered dietician Lisa Matt will instruct how to plan and prepare healthy menus. This is the second in a series of four free health care talks the boroughs have teamed up to sponsor.
Details: www.churchillborough.com or foresthillspa.org.
* Churchill is extending leaf pickup to Monday. Leaves should be placed at the curb in paper biodegradable bags.
Contracts awarded for vehicle upkeep
Council has awarded two contracts to Belback Services of North Versailles for the maintenance and repair of municipal vehicles and equipment.
Action came during a council meeting Monday.
A two-year contract for the maintenance of municipal sewer jet vehicles was approved at per-item rates for state inspection, brakes, tires and front end alignment. The labor rate for repairs is quoted at $77.50 per hour. A second contract for repairs to the municipality’s 2003 Vactor truck was awarded to Belback Services in the amount of $12,118.
* Municipal manager Moe Rayan said the town’s Standard and Poors bond rating has been upgraded to AA, stable. The new higher rating will result in better interest rates for bond issues and eliminate the cost of buying insurance to ensure lower interest rates.
Mr. Rayan also told council he expects to end the year with a $6 million surplus.
“Sometimes we forget how far we have come,” Mayor Anthony L. DeLuca Jr. said “When I started as mayor we ended the year with about $100,000. To end the year with a $6 million surplus, not too many communities can say the same.”
* Council member Sara Kuhn announced that the anticipated increase in sewer rates in 2014 is the result of an increase in rates from ALCOSAN not in municipal sewer rates. Ms. Kuhn said ALCOSAN rates are expected to increase 17 percent next year and will continue to increase for the next three years.
PENN HILLS SCHOOLS
School buses still not on time
School directors continue to study transportation issues as some parents complain that some bus runs by its contracted firm First Student are being missed and students are left standing by the side of the road.
At meeting last week, Lisa Zimmerman of Deerwood Drive again appealed for the school board answers, as she has for the past three months.
Ms. Zimmerman said her 5-year-old daughter, who attends the Propel Charter school in Braddock Hills, has a two-hour bus ride each way each day and the morning ride begins at 5:45 a.m. To make matters worse, she said that two more students from Penn Hills are now attending Propel in Braddock Hills, which means more stops and an even longer bus ride.
She said there are days when the bus doesn’t even show,
“This is my fourth board meeting and I am still waiting for a bus at 5:45 a.m. to take my daughter to Propel Braddock,” Ms. Zimmerman said.
“We are very aware that there are problems,” board president Joseph Bailey said. “We have been talking about options.”
Director of Student Services Bill McClarnon told Ms. Zimmerman that the bus run to Propel in Braddock would eventually be split into two runs and therefore shorter, however, he admitted that there are currently not enough drivers to do so. He said the bus firm is having problems staffing several of the bus routes.
* School officials announced that the new elementary building complex will be officially be named Penn Hills Elementary School. Facilities manager Dennis Russo said construction of the new building is on schedule with painting and flooring being completed.
* Business manager Richard Liberto said that $2.8 million of funds that are to be reimbursed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the construction of the high school and elementary building are being held back. Mr. Liberto told the board that the money is intended to pay for completion of the press box at the football stadium and for construction of tennis courts. He said the state is holding similar reimbursement funds back from 43 districts in the state and expects that a lawsuit will settle the issue.
* Board member Heather Hoolahan lobbied the board to withhold payment of $10,700 to Thomas Stecker Associates for a guidance counselor training program, saying the school board had not officially approved the contract. Ms. Hoolahan noted that state school code requires board approval of any expenditure of more than $100.
Several other board members mentioned that the potential of a lawsuit resulting from not paying the bill may end up costing the school district more money.
“He has already rendered these services. If we don’t pay him and he sues, we will be paying our solicitor as well,” Carolyn Faggioli said.
The bill was approved for payment by a 5-4 vote.
PENN TRAFFORD SCHOOLS
Holiday concert Saturday
Friends of Penn Trafford Area Recreation Commission will sponsor a Holiday Kickoff Concert featuring the Penn Trafford Community Band, the PT Community Flute Choir and Quinta Voce at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Penn Middle School Auditorium.
Tickets at the door are $5 for adults and $2 for students, but to reserve in advance, call 724-744-2171, ext. 204 or 205.
Proceeds benefit parks and recreation facilities and programs.