The South at a glance

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Charity basketball game planned

Police Pals will play the Pittsburgh Steelers basketball team at 8 p.m. March 8 in the Bethel Park High School gymnasium. Tickets are $9 or $7 in advance at Evey True Value Hardware, 5779 Library Road; Eat'n Park, 5220 Library Road; and the police records room during business hours after Feb. 1.

Pregame basketball between police and fire departments starts at 6:15 p.m.

Proceeds fund Police Pals programs and the Sgt. Charles Bonczek/Bethel Park Police Association Scholarships. Last year, 11 scholarships of $500 each were awarded to students who attended the Law Enforcement Apprenticeship Program.


Assistant DA announces judicial candidacy

Mike Lucas, longtime Washington County assistant district attorney, will seek one of two open seats in the county Common Pleas Court this year.

Mr. Lucas, 45, of Carroll, has served as the first assistant district attorney and lead prosecutor for current District Attorney Eugene Vittone and his predecessor Steven Toprani. During the past 16 years, Mr. Lucas said he has tried and prosecuted more serious felony cases - including homicides - than any other local lawyer.

Mr. Lucas, who plans to file on the Democratic and Republican primary tickets, is also an attorney in the private practice of Bassi Vreeland and Associates and has tried civil cases in Pennsylvania and Ohio and in federal court.

Also seeking one of the open seats is local District Judge Valarie Costanzo of Cecil.

The open seats are the result of the resignation last year of Judge Paul Pozonsky and the upcoming retirement of Judge Janet Moschetta Bell.


New police chief on duty

Robert Downey Jr. was sworn in last week by Mayor C. F. Hammer to head the borough's 10-member police force.

A law enforcement veteran Chief. Downey's work experiences include Allegheny County Police, where he served as a tactical SWAT team commander for 20 years, as well as police chief and director of public safety for Slippery Rock University and California University of Pennsylvania.

"I look forward to my role as the police chief for Green Tree Borough and a return to municipal policing. My primary goal is to provide a highly professional, effective and quality police force to the residents, businesses and visitors of Green Tree Borough and to maintain the high quality of community service that is expected of our department."

Chief Downey, 56, is a resident of Baldwin Township, where he is an elected commissioner.

A public installation ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 4 prior to the start of council's meeting. A reception will follow. Borough residents are invited.


Teaching position restored

The school board Tuesday restored a half-time special education teaching position that had been eliminated in furloughs of April 2011.

The board also voted to grant Melissa Pentin a temporary leave of absence from her teaching position so that she could be hired as interim middle school assistant principal.

Substitute teacher pay in the district had been $75 per day for the first 30 days and $100 per day for each day afterward. Superintendent Ed Wehrer said the district had been having trouble finding substitute teachers, so the board increased substitutes' pay to $90 per day for the first 30 days and $120 per day for each day after.


No garbage fee for residents

Residents will not be charged a garbage fee this year. Commissioners on Jan. 16 decided against manager Ryan Eggleston's recommendation to begin charging a trash collection fee to pay for about $1.1 million in road paving, equipment purchases and other items.

Mr. Eggleston said the township likely will use reserve funds to pave Hickory Heights Road - a project that could cost an estimated $400,000 - but will hold off on most other expenditures that had been outlined in the proposed 2013 capital improvement budget.

Commissioners last month approved a separate operating budget of nearly $8.6 million but delayed setting a millage rate until February, due to the Allegheny County property reassessments. Last year's property tax rate was 3.84 mills.

• The township has been awarded a $425,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to help purchase 68 acres of the former Mayview State Hospital property from Aloe Brothers LLC to expand Fairview Park.

• Commissioners approved plans for Walnut Ridge, a 90-home development on 110 acres on Battle Ridge Road. Land preparation could begin this spring.

Developers Dick Herrington and John Means plan to build single-family houses - to sell for an average price of $450,000 - across from Sterling Ridge and behind the Berkshires.


New graduation requirement

Juniors will have to pass the new Keystone Exams to graduate in 2014 - a requirement that will take effect three years earlier than the state Department of Education requires. The exams will test student knowledge of Algebra I, biology and literature.

The board voted 9-0 to require high school students to show proficient or advanced knowledge on the state-mandated assessments to qualify for graduation, starting in the 2013-14 year.

Prior requirements included passing the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests, which the state had not required.

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