M A I NLI NE newspapers
Vol. 100 No. 13
Nanty Glo, Pa.
Thursday, April 1, 2021
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Newsstand Price 75¢
Jackson Twp.Water Authority talks posting requirement change Water shutoffs to resume By Allie Byers
of Mainline Newspapers
Aiden Julock, Emily Yeager, Dom Julock and Bear and Roxy are ready to fish at the Loraine Pond in Jackson Township March 27. Photo by Allie Byers.
Vintondale Borough Council talks possible recreational opportunities
By Allie Byers
of Mainline Newspapers
Vintondale council president Tiffaney Smith broached the idea of creating a list of recreation ideas at the council’s March 18 meeting. “Is there anything that you guys want to see happening here in town as far as recreational projects?” questioned Smith. Councilman Mike “Mickey” Palovich stated that he would like to see a place for Ghost Town Trail users to park and camp once the coal refuse pile is removed. The locally known “Snow Cone” can be seen from Plank Road and is slated to be removed this year. “That’s an ideal thing, that way anyone can walk up the road and go fishing or walk up the trail, go up the trail with a bike or even come through town, someplace to park,” he said. Vice president Yvette Olsavsky said that there are two basketball courts in the borough, one on Maple Street and the other on Main Street. She suggested taking out the court on Main Street and planting a community garden. “It would bring curbside attraction to the town,” said Smith. “You would have picnic tables, a
gazebo.” Olsavsky said that she would like to see flowers and possibly host a small farmer’s market in the future, if the plan goes through. “[It would be] something nice for the town, make it look nice, freshen it up,” she said. Borough worker Joe Colangelo cautioned the council on the idea because if there are benches and a gazebo, people may hang out there who may not use the area for its intended purpose. “That’s where community policing, it comes into effect,” said police officer Lee Erickson. “Community policing goes a long way in small municipalities.” He stated that being on good terms with the residents but also knowing when to be tough is important. Palovich said he doesn’t like the idea of removing a basketball court because both are used and it’s optimal to have one on each end of town so the kids don’t have to walk long distances to play. Smith said she doesn’t want the court completely gone, but instead relocate it to the end of town near Homecoming Field.
How the Jackson Township Water Authority handles posting properties for nonpayment of bills was broached by office manager Melanie Bender at the March 23 meeting. “Basically, how we run that report is … when someone has not made a payment in three months it will put them on this report that they’re delinquent [and] we’re going to turn off their water,” Bender said. Bender suggested that the authority change the posting requirement from a threemonth no payment period to an actual dollar amount. “What I’ve noticed happening is some people have a $400 balance and they’re paying $25 and they’re not getting this notice because they’re making a payment, [but] they’re not paying their entire balance off,” she said. The water authority’s bills state that the balance must be paid in full every month. According to Bender, the dollar amount can be set at what the board feels is correct, but if she sets it at $120, it would equal that threemonth period. “It would kick out everyone who owes over $120 and then we’d have a larger list,” said Bender. Foreman Fred Meier added that some customers “play the system” because they know that as long as a payment is made within the three-month period, they will not be added onto the list. A posting fee will not be added to the account either.
“We’ll make the proper internal adjustment,” said chairman Robb Piper. Moving on, Piper brought up the CARES Act money that has become available for infrastructure. “Are you guys chasing that and seeing what’s available for water and sewer?” Piper asked engineer Pat Mulcahy. Mulcahy stated that he has been following the money and is still waiting to see how much municipalities will be receiving. “That money is going to be available for projects,” said Mulcahy. “It’s kind of gray right now exactly what’s going to fall into that, but there’s definitely going to be monies that are available to go after.” Piper requested that Mulcahy have more information in next month’s report. Solicitor C.J. Webb said that his understanding of the money is that it will not go to municipal authorities directly; instead, it will be sent to the actual municipality. “At least so far, it doesn’t appear that it goes directly to a municipal authority,” he said. “I would agree with that,” stated Mulcahy. “That’s how I’m understanding it also.” He added that more research will be done and provided to the board in April. Moving on, the board approved resuming shutoffs for nonpayment effective immediately. The board stopped shutoffs due to COVID. Webb said assistance is available for renters struggling to pay utility bills because of the pandemic.
Blacklick Valley implementing more STEM programs By Allie Byers
of Mainline Newspapers
Developing a more in-depth STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program at both the elementary center and the high school has been at the forefront of the Blacklick Valley school district’s mind over the past few months. “I am very excited about both programs and the opportunities it will provide for our students K to 12,” said superintendent Bill
SEE RECREATIONAL, PAGE 15
‘I am very excited about both programs and the opportunities it will provide for our students’
Kanich. At the elementary, teachers Melanie Nedrich and Samantha Lavan obtained a grant, went through the necessary training and are now implementing the beginnings of the STEM program. The curriculum will allow students to develop key skills such as problem solving and creativity by participating in hands-on activities. The first STEM materials purchased through the grant was the Osmo system, which utilizes game pieces in conjunction with
a tablet. The kindergarten and first-grade students have already used the technology for sounds, letter and word recognition, patterns and colors. The upper elementary students have used activities that include map skills and grade-level math. Other materials the district purchased are Dash and Dot and Ozobots, both robots focus on coding. Cubelets have also been purchased, which introduce students to robotics, circuits and programming. Coding can also be taught through a variety of lessons.
At the high school, the STEM learning will continue with the seventh-grade students. The district has a relationship with the Carnegie Science Center (CSC) and has participated in professional development with that resource. Two CSC representatives instructed high school teachers Chelsea Toy, Scott Havener and Jacob Lieb on using a threedimensional printer and laser cutter. The science center has included Blacklick Valley in on a grant and, if received, the high school will be purchasing a vinyl cutter.
High school principal Laura Fisanick’s goal is to progress the STEM program by developing a Maker Space. The location will give teachers a dedicated space to integrate technology into their lessons. Once Toy, Havener and Lieb are well-versed in the Maker Space, they will train other teachers from various disciplines in the school. The district will continue its relationship with the Carnegie Science Center to further develop STEM skills. In addition to STEM, initial contact has been made with a representative from FIRST LEGO League. It is a national competition that allows teams to apply STEM skills in order to compete against other teams.