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M AI NLI NE newspapers

Summerhill Boro takes legal action against blighted property Vol. 115 No. 48

USPS 439-000

By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

The Summerhill Borough Council has taken legal action against the owner of the blighted building at 1335 Railroad St. The building, a former site of a car dealership, was condemned by Laurel Municipal Inspection Agency (LMIA), acting on behalf of the borough, due to a number of structural deficiencies that pose a danger to life and property. Borough solicitor Dennis Stofko filed a Request for Injunction Nov. 21, naming Summerhill Real Estate Holdings LLC as defendant. The limited liability company was created Sept. 24, 2004, and lists an office in Allentown. Notices were also sent to Thompson Motors. Thompson Motors was incorporated Sept. 19, 1984, and once conducted business out of the building at 1335 Railroad St. Thompson Motors is listed as being located in Springtown in Bucks County. Pennsylvania Department of State records list David Ballek as president of Thompson Motors. LMIA conducted an inspection of the building Oct. 17, 2018,

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and issued a notice of violation for at least 11 different code violations. The notice informs the property owner that they have 30 days to correct the violations. Neither LMIA nor Summerhill Borough received a response, and no action was observed on the property. A second notice was sent March 6, and a final notice was sent June 25. There was no response or action by the property owners to the notices. The borough alleges in the injunction petition that the building presents a fire hazard in its dilapidated condition, and due to its poor structural integrity, it creates a danger to any person nearby. The petition alleges that the conditions of the “property unreasonably interferes with the reasonable use, comfort, and enjoyment of the property and/or endangers the health and/or safety of the occupants of the property in the vicinity.” The petition for injunction differs from other civil lawsuits filed by other municipalities, in that the petition for injunction states that Summerhill Borough

First Commonwealth Bank in South Fork made a donation of $1,540 to assist in the repair of the South Fork Borough K-9 police cruiser Nov. 22. South Fork K-9 officer Bas and police chief Don Wyar accept the donation from First Commonwealth Bank’s Jessica Nadonley, financial solutions center manager, Tina Dallape, financial solutions area manager and Bryan Fisher, SVP market leader/corporate banker. Photo by Ron Portash.

save costs, work on as many of these projects as possible will be done by authority employees and not be bid out to contractors, saving significant money in labor costs. Most projects bid out to contractors require government agencies, such as the sewer authority, to pay the contractor the prevailing wage when the project costs are over $25,000. Prevailing wage amounts are set by Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. Laborers

(class 1) have the cheapest hourly rate on the list at $28.65 plus a fringe benefit rate of $24.95 totaling $53.60 per hour. On the state prevailing wage scale, a plumber is listed as $53.45 for salary and $33.54 for benefits totaling $86.96 per hour. This is required to be paid by the government agency even if that is not the wage scale of the contractor. The prevailing wage in this area adds significant amounts to any large project bid out by a government

Ernie Graham, of ELA Sports, spoke to the board about the different contracts and remaining items. He told the board that all 10 contracts are substantially complete. Straw has the most extensive list of items that need to be completed. They have landscaping, seeding and stabilizing work on the baseball field. Superintendent Dr. David Lehman told the board that they have had multiple guys on site all week. However, it was pointed out that it is November, which makes it difficult to grow grass. It was discussed that they may have to hold money and do the work in the spring. The other option would be to make them come back in the spring. Lehman told the board that the sod would take two weeks to take hold, so a delay for home

games is a possibility, depending on if they come back to do this work. Graham noted that they have been a cooperative partner throughout the construction process and have worked to try to get everything completed. Graham also noted that FieldTurf needs to put the base inlays on the softball infield area. The district will be holding $5,000 until this work is completed. In other matters, John Bopp and Tracy Helsel were recognized for their long years of service to the Forest Hills School Board in their final board meeting. Both board members are retiring. Helsel was recognized for her 18 years of service on the board and


Portage Area sewer rates to increase by 1 percent next year By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

The Portage Area Sewer Authority will again increase sewer rates by 1 percent in 2020 to fund capital improvements needed for the sewer infrastructure. This will take the minimum sewer bill from $30.20 to $30.50. In 2018, the minimum sewer bill was $29.90. The authority has a number of capital improvement projects on the drawing board. In order to


Forest Hills Board discusses athletic work, recognizes board members

By Sean Wechtenhiser for Mainline Newspapers

The Forest Hills School Board got their monthly construction update on the work on the athletic facilities at their Nov. 14 meeting. However, since the facilities have been completed, the update centered around remaining items to complete or correct. In addition to this discussion, two retiring school board members were also recognized for their years of service to the school district.


agency. The anticipated revenue for the 2020 budget is $1,348,720. The 1 percent increase along with the 1 percent rate increase for 2019 will be directed into the capital improvement fund to cover future work projects. These capital improvement projects are on the board to stay proactive against the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) growing regulation enforcement. By keeping ahead

Walk in the Park

of ever-increasing enforcement action by DEP, the authority hopes to avoid undergoing forced improvements, mandatory work and fines and penalties, which would cost the taxpayers much more than a 1 percent rate increase. The capital improvements discussion turned to several grant opportunities available for rehabilitating or improving infrastructure. The authority SEE RATES, PAGE 3A

Paul and Sherry Litzinger, along with their dog Olivia, enjoy a walk in the Crichton-McCormick Park Nov. 18. Photo by Ron Portash.

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