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    Citizens discuss power outages with council

    August 10, 2022 - JOSEPH BELL Bulletin News Editor


      A group of citizens from the north side of Latrobe voiced their concerns to city council Monday evening regarding frequent power outages at their homes.

      At least one meeting between power company representatives and affected residents has reportedly not resulted in much change, and citizens on Monday hoped for future intervention from city officials.

      One resident was David Meholic of 130 6th Ave., Latrobe, who discussed repetitive power outages in his neighborhood.

      "Anytime the wind would blow or if it would rain a little bit, the power would be knocked out," he said. "We got ahold of West Penn (Power) and they agreed to meet with us at (Goodwill) Hose Company No. 1.

      "It's frustrating. You have your air conditioner running, your refrigerator running, people working at home on a computer, and then all of a sudden your power goes off for 10 seconds then comes back on. It's hard on every appliance that you have in the house."

      During one call with power company personnel, Meholic said he was told that each time the power goes out, call and report it.

      "What are you supposed to do, sit by the phone?" Meholic said. "My refrigerator is about ready to crap the bed."

      Another resident reportedly experienced 29 power outages since March 16.

      Public Works Director Scott Wajdic said he would contact an engineer with the power company regarding the issues.

      Council also reported meeting in executive session prior to the public meeting to discuss personnel issues.

      "We have met to discuss employee personnel action related to (Latrobe Fire) Chief John Brasile related to an event that took place June 13," said Latrobe Mayor Eric Bartels.

      Councilman James Kelley offered fellow elected officials a motion regarding the matter.

      "I now move that we instruct our solicitor (John Greiner) to prepare and issue a letter of reprimand to John Brasile, fire chief, for inappropriate conduct and language occurring in a public setting on June 13, 2022," Kelley said. "The conduct and language was totally unacceptable for a city department head."

      Council voted 6-0 to approve the motion. Councilwoman Ann Amatucci was not at the meeting.

      Brasile was contacted by the Bulletin immediately following the city council meeting and he declined to comment on the matter. Brasile said he had a prior engagement and was unable to attend Monday's meeting.

      Latrobe Police Chief John Sleasman reminded council that Aug. 29 is the first day of school for Latrobe students. He advised residents that the department will have an increased presence near school grounds.

      "The times for LES (Latrobe Elementary School) school zone activation will be backed off this year by a half hour, it'll be 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., and then 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.," Sleasman said. "We will be actively patrolling there, looking for speeders in the school zone and we will be citing, so just be aware that school is coming back and please be extra cautious."

      Sleasman also discussed the Steelers Fest event Friday evening, noting there were no incidents reported.

      "We got washed out at the end and there was no practice, but other than that it was a good day," Sleasman said. "At the last minute, they decided they were coming to town (Monday), they came in around 1:30 p.m. and practiced up until around 4:30 p.m. There's a possibility they're going to be back (today) to do it again because the field at St. Vincent is washed out. They may be back.

      "I explained the overtime costs that is created when they practice at the stadium and the Steelers have tentatively agreed to pay any and all of the overtime costs for Friday, (Monday), and any other future practice that they have in town. When the crowd is large, we have a lot of extra officers."

      Latrobe Police Department had some assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police with traffic control Friday night after the practice was canceled.

      Regarding the rainy weather Friday evening, Wajdic told council the "city itself did well" as far as any flood damage was concerned.

      "Friday night brought a pretty bad storm that affected our neighbor," Wajdic said, referring to Unity Township. "I checked some of the key areas (in the city) that we've had trouble with and we were OK. We did some cleaning in the past week and that helped us out as we cleaned out some basins that were clogged and needed cleaned."

      Wajdic said the city sent rolloff dumpsters Saturday to the village of Dorothy as residents continue their recovery and cleanup.

      Officials also set a public hearing for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12 for proposed city code amendments regarding vacant properties and rental properties located in the city.

      John Maher was approved in a 6-0 vote to fill a zoning hearing board vacancy. Maher will fill a term that expires January 2025.

      Councilman Ralph Jenko encouraged residents to visit the mural located on the backside of the "Welcome to the Neighborhood" Latrobe sign, which greets pedestrians and motorists crossing the Lloyd Avenue bridge over Loyalhanna Creek.

      "Spend 10 or 15 minutes or so, it's quite spectacular," Jenko said. "We had an amazing group of volunteers and organizations coming together. There are some interesting things about the city's history. It's quite amazing."

      Latrobe City Council is next scheduled to convene 6:30 p.m. Aug. 22 in council chambers.


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