Official vote taken on school closings
Penn Hills School District —The school board on Monday took the formal step of approving the closing of Washington Elementary School, Forbes Elementary School and Penn Hebron Elementary Academy as part of the district’s reorganization. The schools will close after the end of this school year, and all elementary students will attend a new elementary center for the 2014-15 school year.
Public hearings on the school closings were held in December, and the board waited the required three months before taking the vote. The reorganization includes building a new high school and a new elementary center to serve the district. A study by Educational Management Group LLC of Sugarloaf, Pa., found that the district was wasting millions of dollars operating facilities at less than 60 percent capacity. The high school was completed in January 2013 and the elementary center is slated to open Aug. 9.
■ The board approved the retirement of Bill McLarnon, director of student services, effective June 30.
■ A contract with LIFESTAT Ambulance Service of Saltsburg was approved for the 2014-15 school year. LIFESTAT will provide an ambulance and two crew members for school events, including football games. The cost is $300 per varsity football game and $75 per hour for a minimum of two hours for all other school events.
School board meetings set to move
Franklin Regional — The school board has approved a recommendation from the administration to use the Murrysville municipal building to broadcast school board meetings. The video facilities at the municipal building provide multiple camera angles, live broadcasting, live streaming over the Internet and a larger room. Superintendent Jamie Piraino has recommended relocating the meetings to the municipal building beginning in August. The board had considered permanently outfitting the school board meeting room at the administration building with cameras, microphones and other equipment at a cost of $10,000 or transporting equipment from the high school for each meeting.
Session on gas drilling may be held
Murrysville — Council is trying to schedule experts in gas drilling to answer questions and educate the public on drilling laws and practices. Councilman David Perry said he has contacted several industry experts. Council is expected to approve the creation of bid specifications for drilling under Murrysville Community Park in April.
A committee has been created to review the municipality’s gas drilling ordinance in light of changes in Act 13, the state law regulating gas drilling. Several members of the audience at last week's meeting urged council to explore increasing set-back distances.
■ The speed limit on Logans Ferry Road between Route 380 and the Allegheny County line may increase from 25 mph to 35 mph. Council gave permission to advertise an ordinance to make the change. The ordinance will be on the agenda in April.
■ Improvements have been made to the baseball fields at Murrysville Community Park, Jerry DalCanton, president of the Franklin Regional Athletic Association, told council at a recent meeting.
“We have over 700 kids that play baseball and softball in Murrysville. We've been working hard to get a website up so that registration can be done online,” he said. Mr. DalCanton said that kids from 5 to 19 years old can participate in baseball, softball and basketball leagues. For more information: www.FRAAsports.org.
■ Council approved issuing two $100,000 general obligation notes to repay the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Association for the purchase of firetrucks for the Sardis and Murrysville volunteer fire departments . Money for the purchase of the trucks come from the municipal emergency equipment fund, which is funded by a 0.6-mill dedicated tax assessment.
■ Council postponed a decision on the subdivision of a property at 4440 Twin Oaks Drive. If the property were subdivided, council would need to approve a right of way in Townsend Park to access the second lot because that lot would have no street frontage. According to owner Sandy Dinzeo, who lives on the property, she was told that the municipality must apply on her behalf to Orphans Court for approval of the right of way. Mrs. Dinzeo asked for a one-year extension, which council granted.
■ Council has reappointed Houston Casualty Insurance Co. of Houston, Texas, as the carrier for all municipal insurance policies. Houston was the low bidder at $129,061, which is an increase of $9,536 over last year’s cost. Council also has reappointed the firm of DeBlasio & DeBlasio Associates as the municipal auditors for 2014 to 2016. The current contract expires when the 2013 audit is complete. The contract is for $14,000 for auditing services for each year. The new fees are $100 per year greater than the previous contract.
Passion play makes final run
Areawide — Along with fish fries and ashes on the forehead, passion plays have become a staple of the Lenten season. One of the longest running —- at 28 years — will make its final tour with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday in St. Richard's Church, 3841 Dickey Road, Richland.
"Why Must He Die?!" presented by the Tri-County Choir Institute, has been performed 405 times in 160 different schools and 143 churches of all denominations.
But this year, the play's writer, director and producer, Linda Wallace of Sewickley Hills, is calling it quits due to the grueling schedule of practices and performances that begin in January.
The 28 cast members are from all over the Pittsburgh region and represent every age group, from children to seniors. The play is unique, focusing on the trial of Jesus through pauses in action and dozens of song snippets, along with solos from many of the performers.
Performances are free to the public, but donations are accepted.
Here is a schedule of the remaining performances: 2 p.m. Sunday, St. Irenaeus Parish, 385 Maryland Ave., Oakmont; 7 p.m. Sunday, St. John Neumann Church, 2230 Rochester Road, Franklin Park; 7 p.m. April 4, Holy Martyrs Church, 353 W. Ninth Ave., Tarentum; 2 p.m. April 6, North American Martyrs Church, 2526 Haymaker Road, Monroeville; 6:30 p.m. April 6, Holy Spirit Parish, 608 Farragut St., Millvale; 7 p.m. April 11, St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, 1 Grove Place, Pleasant Hills; 2 p.m. April 13, Good Shepherd Parish, 1101 Braddock Ave., Braddock; 7 p.m. April 13, First United Methodist Church of McKeesport, 1406 Cornell St., McKeesport; noon, April 18, St. John of God Church, 1011 Church Ave., McKees Rocks; and 7 p.m. April 18, St. Patrick Church, 317 West Pike St., Canonsburg.
Township to help pay for pipe
North Huntingdon — The township commissioners last week granted storm water easements to four couples who plan to install a bigger pipe to hold an underground stream on their properties near Roth Drive.
The township will pay for pipe to hold the stream, and it has done engineering and survey work and recorded easements for the project.
The couples who own the four properties where flooding is occurring will pay about $30,000 for labor to install the pipe.
Mike Turley, assistant township manager, said the cost of the project will be split roughly 50/50 between the property owners and North Huntingdon. He said the municipality used to supply pipe to residents for drainage projects but hasn’t done so since before he was hired in 2008. The township is dealing with a significant flooding problem, he said.
Commissioners Dave Herold, Brian West, Tony Martino, Tom Krause and Donald Austin voted for the easements. Commissioners Rich Gray and Zach Haigis voted against them.
“I think it’s public money being used to improve private properties,” Mr. Gray said.
“I think we’re going down the wrong track,” Mr. Haigis said.