Ex-Peters councilman back on board

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Peters council has selected a former councilman and financial expert to fill the seat left vacant after the death of Councilman Robert Atkison last month.

Members voted, 4-2, Monday to appoint Michael McCaig to a 4 1/2-month term that expires at the end of the year.

A special election will be held during the Nov. 5 general election for a permanent replacement. Each political party is being asked to put forward a candidate.

Voting in favor of Mr. McCaig's appointment from a pool of seven applicants were council members James Berquist, who made the nomination, Robert Lewis, David Ball and Frank Arcuri. Councilwoman Monica Merrell and Councilman Gary Stiegel Jr. voted for another applicant, Frank Kosir Jr.

Ms. Merrell said she appreciated Mr. McCaig's willingness to serve on council again, but felt his appointment could be a conflict of interest.

Mr. McCaig has been a municipal bond adviser for the past 25 years, including serving as bond adviser several times for Peters council. In December, he advised council to refinance a $10 million bond, which members did.

Council President Mr. Arcuri said council is not expected to vote on any bond-related items in the foreseeable future and felt Mr. McCaig's financial experience could be helpful because budget season is beginning. But, if council does discuss or vote on bond-related matters, Mr. McCaig would be required to recuse himself from the deliberations.

Mr. McCaig served a 19-month term from May 2008 to December 2009 due to the resignation of former Councilman William Naumoff, who resigned due to travel duties for work. Mr. McCaig lost a bid for a full term to Mr. Stiegel.

Mr. McCaig holds a master's degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh and serves as managing director of Janney Capital Markets. He is a member of the Republican party, though it's as yet unclear whether he will be named as the party's candidate in November.

Council members plan to honor Mr. Atkison with a memorial road marker before their next council meeting at 7:15 p.m. Aug. 26. The brief ceremony will be held where the sign is to be installed at the entrance to the municipal complex on East McMurray Road.

Also on Monday, council warned careless drivers and pet scofflaws to be aware that police will begin cracking down on violators of the township's dog leash ordinance and will begin citing people for trying to avoid traffic calming measures in Peterswood Park.

During a quarterly update from parks and recreation board member Melissa Sickmund, council learned that some drivers have been avoiding speed humps by driving on a walking trail in Peterswood Park. The traffic calming measures, on Rooney and Meredith drives, were designed to slow drivers down, Ms. Sickmund said.

Instead, drivers have been putting those on the trail in more danger by swerving to avoid driving over the humps, she said.

Many people have also ignored the requirement that all dogs in the township must be leashed, especially on Arrowhead Trail and in the two township parks, Peterswood and Peters Lake.

Mr. Berquist said he'd been approached by an unleashed dog recently that scared him on the trail, and parks and recreation director Michele Harmel said dog owners frequently disregard signs about the leash requirement.

"They walk right past the signs with their dogs off the leash," she said. "I think they know the rules exist, they just don't want to follow them."

"Sometimes people just don't listen to things they don't want to obey," Ms. Sickmund said.

Council members said they want more signs installed and increased police patrols in the area.

Council also:

• Approved phase three of the Hamlet of Springdale plan, including 14 new lots on the 46-acre site. Plans call for five phases and a total of 51 lots when the project is completed. Developers plan 1.1 lots per acre and about 6.8 acres of open space. Council okayed the final plan, with 15 conditions. Members also will consider a request by contractor Mark Hoskins to require construction vehicles to enter the site via Bower Hill Road to cut down on muddy roads in nearby developments.

• Denied a request by Appalachian Industries Inc. of Perryopolis, which was seeking relief from punitive fines related to a possible delay in the construction of a new bridge on Sugar Camp Road. The company said Verizon delayed the project by not removing phone lines from an arch across the old bridge in a timely manner, but township engineer Mark Zemaitis said Appalachian was at fault for sequencing the project in a certain way that prevented the arch from being dismantled for nearly six weeks. If the company doesn't finish the project by the Oct. 31 deadline, it could be accessed fines, which company officials were trying to avoid. Mr. Zemaitis said he believes the project remains on schedule and likely will be completed by the target date.

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Janice Crompton: jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 412-851-1867.


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