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M AI NLI NE newspapers

After 24 years, construction to begin on Wilmore flood protection levee Vol. 114 No. 27

USPS 439-000

By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

After 24 years of waiting and planning, the construction of an additional Wilmore flood protection levee is moving forward. According to borough manager Mark Blaisdell, the initial quest to have a levee to protect the west side of the borough from flooding by the Little Conemaugh River began in 1994. The borough has worked with the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Waterways Engineering and Wetlands, to secure funding and permits. According to Blaisdell, work on the project slowed to a halt a number of years ago when personnel cuts to the bureau

Portage, Pa.

amounted to nearly 50 percent of the staff. The anticipated $1.49 million project is expected to begin construction in spring 2019. With the design and construction of the new levee, the borough had to take legal action to take possession of the title for unopened portions of Spring and Walnut streets and Mountain, Moore and Sugar alleys. These portions of streets and alleys have been unopened and not used or maintained by the borough. Wilmore Borough, through their solicitor William Barbin, filed a Declaration of Taking for Eminent Domain on portions of 21 properties that have “interest in unopened portions of the listed streets and alleys” that abut the waterway. This legal action

Friday July 6, 2018

was filed in May 2015. The interest in the unopened portions of the streets and alleys means that the adjunct property owners usually cut the grass or maintain the property as if it were of part of their backyards. Finally, on June 18, the borough filed for a Writ of Possession to “obtain property rights necessary to construct, rehabilitate and maintain an earthen flood control levee, devices and appurtenances thereto protect the property and lives of the residents of the Borough of Wilmore,” according to court documents. The Writ of Possession also grants control over any permanent and temporary easements that may exist in the proposed construcSEE LEVEE, PAGE 4A

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Game day

Progress slow in sale of former church buildings of Mainline Newspapers

Bench sitting

32 Pages

Willow Zock (left) and Adilyn Costlow have fun in the sun at Crichton-McCormick Park June 29, during the the anti-drug abuse youth fair, sponsored by the Cambria County Courts. Photo by Ron Portash.

By Ron Portash

Will Schrift (left) Jacob Fuller, Carmella Fuller, Ethan Fuller and Kaylee Koval along with Snow the dog enjoy doing nothing in the heat of the day at Crichton-McCormick Park in Portage June 29. Photo by Ron Portash.

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Progress is moving slowly on the proposed sale of the former Sacred Heart Church and school building and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church building in Portage Borough. According to Fr. Tom Stabile, of Holy Family Parish, the report on the inventory of the buildings is complete and currently under review by the diocese. The Sacred Heart buildings on Mountain Avenue that include the former church, rectory, school and a garage, along with Assumption Church on Hammers Street were originally placed on the real estate market

for sale in 2014. The rectory for Assumption Church sold privately shortly after the building was placed up for sale. There are a number of structural concerns with the former Sacred Heart Church and rectory buildings. One of the reasons the church building was closed was the deteriorating condition of the aging roof. Both the Sacred Heart rectory and church have evidence of minor interior water damage. Concern has been expressed by the Portage Borough council members on the deteriorating condition, and they fear the taxpayers may get stuck with demolition costs if the building becomes a danger to passing pedestrians

Truck damage continues to plague Portage homeowners By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

Since they purchased the house at the corner of South Railroad Avenue and Blair Street, homeowners Terry Trusik and Marian Slebodnick have been plagued by damage to their yard from trucks attempting to turn the corner. Even though the property is two blocks from Main Street, trucks use Blair Street to try and connect either with Caldwell Avenue or with South Railroad Avenue and Main Street. The intersection of South Railroad Avenue and Blair Street is not wide enough for tractor-trailers to turn on to or from South Railroad Avenue. Both properties at the corner of South Railroad Avenue and Blair Street On July 2, a tractor-trailer could not make the turn from South Railroad Avenue onto Blair Street in Portage. The truck driver decided to take a shortcut by driving through the yard between the house of Terry Trusik and Marian Slebodnick and the utility pole at the corner. The truck pulled the telephone wires from inside of the house causing damage to an interior wall, and tore up the grass in the yard. Photo by Ron Portash.


have suffered continual damage form the truck traffic. In April, Slebonick went to a Portage Borough Council meeting to seek assistance in stopping the trucks from damaging their property while attempting to make the turn. When the tractor-trailers attempt to make this turn, the utility pole at the corner of their property would be sideswiped and large tire depressions would be left in their yard. The property across Blair Street had a concrete-filled fencepost that had been run-over by a truck and pushed nearly level to the ground. On July 2, damage to the Trusik’s and Slebodnik’s property reached a new level. A tractortrailer car carrier traveled down South Railroad Avenue from Main Street past the intersection and stopped, according to a neighbor who witnessed the incident. The tractor-trailer then backed up toward Main Street. The tractor-trailer then turned and traveled through the yard SEE DAMAGE, PAGE 4A

The Dispatch  
The Dispatch