The South at a glance
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Music fills air
The 70-voice South Hills Chorale will perform its annual holiday concert, " 'tis the Season for Singing" at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 and 15 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2040 Washington Road, Upper St. Clair.
Directing will be Phillip R. Aley and Barbara McAuley; pianist is Patricia Reavel.
The chorale performs two major concerts each year and does numerous concerts for community, religious, and social groups. In addition, members sing at facilities serving the elderly and the challenged.
Tickets are $15 and available in advance or at the door. Call 412-220-4227 or 412-848-0291. Details: www.southhillschorale.org.
• A first-of-its-kind Ukrainian men's choir makes a stop in the South Hills Sunday for a free 6 p.m. concert at Peters Creek Baptist church, 6300 Library Road (Route 88) South Park.
The choir will sing sacred music and contemporary songs in Ukrainian, Russian and English.
New chief hired
Council has unanimously named Robert Downey Jr. of Baldwin Township as the borough's new police chief.
The unanimous vote came during Monday's council meeting. Mr. Downey starts his job Jan. 14.
Mr. Downey, 56, who heads the police force at California University of Pennsylvania, was selected from a field of 41 applicants to replace Andrew Lisiecki who resigned in May to become chief in North Huntingdon.
"I'm really looking forward to coming here. There aren't too many jobs I would have left California for," he said Monday as he thanked officials for their trust.
"Out of several dozen candidates, Mr. Downey set himself apart," Councilman David Rea said.
The hiring, which will bring the number of officers in the borough's police department to 10, is conditional upon his passing physical and psychological exams, as well as providing Act 120 police certification.
His salary has not yet been determined.
A law enforcement officer for more than 32 years, Mr. Downey is a Pittsburgh native who described himself as a "go-getter." He also is an elected commissioner in Baldwin Township and serves as a member of the Medical Rescue Team South Authority.
He formerly was chief of police at Slippery Rock University and spent 28 years with the Allegheny County Police. He holds criminal justice degrees from La Roche College and Cincinnati University.
Mr. Downey said he is happy with what he sees in Green Tree.
"They've always had a good [police] department and a good, solid community," he said.
He and his wife have three grown children.
School board names new president
Elaine Cappucci is the new president of the Mt. Lebanon Scholl District school board president and Lawrence Lebowitz is new vice president after a unanimous vote during a reorgnization meeting Monday.
Relay cookbooks ready
Cookbooks produced by the Relay For Life of Mt. Lebanon are available and proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society.
Books will be available from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 12 at the public library, Meeting Room A, 16 Castle Shannon Blvd. when a cookbook release tasting party will be held.
The 230 recipe books are also available for $10 at Gifted, 1600 Cochran Road.
Details: relayforlife.org; search for Mount Lebanon.
The next Relay for Life in town will be held June 15-16 at the high school stadium.
'Taste' series looks for chefs, recipes
The township library's cooking club is finalizing plans for a new "Taste the World" series that will feature recipes from a different country each month.
Library director Pier Lee said the culinary series will be complimented by other library resources, such as the Mango Languages program, travel books and DVDs. The start date will be set early in the new year,
The library is seeking guest chefs. Food expenses will be reimbursed.
Illuminations Night tomorrow
The annual Illuminations program is planned by the deacons at the Pleasant Hills Community Presbyterian Church and set for 6 to 9 p.m. tomorrow.
Cindy Podplesky, president of the deacons, said the church views the program as a "gift to the community.''
This year's theme is "Share the Joy'' and there will be bonfires, food, entertainment and performances by Thomas Jefferson High School Jazz Bands and Chorus.
Also, look for free carriage and trolley rides to view neighborhoods dressed for the holidays.
The church is located at 199 Old Clairton Road. Caryl Drive, behind the church, will be closed and Audrey Drive converted to one way. Parking on nearby streets is limited, but free shuttles will run from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. between the municipal parking lot at 410 E. Bruceton Road and the middle school lot at 404 Old Clairton Road.
Districts withdraw from alternative school
South Fayette, Chartiers Valley, Quaker Valley, Moon and Cornell school districts will stop sending students to an alternative high school in North Fayette after the current school year.
South Fayette school board voted 9-0 last month to withdraw from participation in the Alternative Center for Education, or ACE. The program is on the campus of Parkway West Career and Technology Center on Steubenville Pike.
Superintendent Bille Rondinelli said decline in enrollment, due largely to competition from other programs, has made tuition too expensive.
The annual cost of a half-day program could rise to $17,000 per student, an "exorbitant" amount, she said.
Chartiers Valley school board members voted Nov. 13 to end participation, and Cornell directors voted Nov. 15 to withdraw at the end of the 2012-13 school year.
"We were sad to do that, but it just kind of came down to dollars and cents, unfortunately," Cornell high school principal Aaron Thomas said.
Seven high school students from South Fayette will finish the school year in the center and then be placed in other programs that meet their individual needs.
Some other alternative programs in the region include those operated by Keystone Oaks, the Allegheny Intermediate Unit in McKees Rocks and Holy Family Institute in Emsworth. Also, many districts are creating their own alternative education programs and cyber schools.
Earlier this month, the board of the alternative school for grades 9-12 was poised to vote on closing the program but postponed the decision until January at the urging of parents, students and graduates.
The center, founded in 1989, is operated by a consortium of Carlynton, Chartiers Valley, Cornell, Montour, Moon, Mt. Lebanon, Quaker Valley, South Fayette, Sto-Rox, Upper St. Clair and West Allegheny.
Keystone Oaks withdrew from the program several years ago when it formed an in-house alternative school.
John DiSanti, West Allegheny superintendent, is part of a committee examining ways to salvage the ACE program, perhaps by changing the way it is delivered to students.
South Fayette board member Alan Vezzi said school districts agree the program is valuable, but the total enrollment is too low. Enrollment dropped from 78 in 2009-10 to 44 this year.
Ms. Rondinelli said South Fayette typically has sent five or six students a year, but other districts have not met their quotas, a situation that has driven up the costs for the districts of the remaining pupils.
ACE employs eight staff members, including five teachers of English, social studies, science, math and health/physical education. Students also may enroll in Parkway West career and technical courses.
The program addresses the needs of at-risk students by providing an environment different from a traditional high school.
First Published December 6, 2012 6:52 am