Category: Kittanning Borough

Multiple Communities Benefit from Grant Funding

Construction vehicles and road barriers will move back into Kittanning Borough's first ward after state Commonwealth Financing Authority officials awarded grant money to mill and pave portions of South Jefferson Street - from the newly-paved Jacob Street past Kittanning Hose Company #1 fire station to Mulberry Street. (KP 2015 File Photo)

Construction vehicles and road barriers will move back into Kittanning Borough’s first ward after state Commonwealth Financing Authority officials awarded grant money to mill and pave portions of South Jefferson Street – from the newly-paved Jacob Street past Kittanning Hose Company #1 fire station to Mulberry Street. (KP 2015 File Photo)

by Jonathan Weaver

More than a half-dozen Armstrong County boroughs and townships will be able to make roadway and sidewalk improvements as soon as 2017 folllowing a grant announcement yesterday.

Commonwealth Financing Authority leaders awarded a nearly-$532,000 state grant through the Multimodal Transportation Fund to fund projects in Elderton, Ford City, Freeport, Kittanning and South Bethlehem Boroughs, as well as Madison and North Buffalo Townships.

The grant dollars require local agencies provide matching funding — with the total equaling a 70 percent share of state money matched by a local share of 30 percent, which will be provided by the municipalities and Armstrong County.

The project’s total price tag of more than $768,000 includes funding allocated for administration costs as well.

In a press release, State Senator Don White applauded the Commonwealth Financing Authority and local officials.

“This is a true testament to all of our local community, economic development and elected officials who worked together to provide the necessary local matching funds to help improve the infrastructure and quality of life here in our community,” Senator White wrote.

Kittanning Borough received additional funding in order to mill and pave Jefferson Street, from Jacob Street to Mulberry Street. Jacob Street was repaved earlier this year after initially being paved through Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant funds in October 2015.

Ford City Borough received additional funding to mill and pave two blocks of 3rd Avenue, allowing for better access to the Armstrong Trail. This summer, Ford City also received multimodal grant funds to make sidewalks handicapped-accessible by adding 130 curbs.

In North Buffalo Township, funding will be used to restore a six-foot rotting drainage pipe under Sportsman Road. Township supervisors have been analyzing cost options with engineers as well as talking to PennDOT officials earlier this year in hopes of remedying the problem.

Grant funding will also benefit Elderton Borough (to improve sidewalks along Main and Quince Streets), Freeport Borough (by milling paving to create better access to the Butler-Freeport Community Trail in the Lanesville neighborhood), Madison Township (to upgrade Scenic Road and provide better access in and out of Rimer) and South Bethlehem (to repair 2,200 square feet of sidewalk and install nearly 30 handicapped-accessible ramps.

The Multimodal Transportation Fund grant was made possible by Act 89 (the Transportation Bill signed by then-Governor Tom Corbett in 2013 to fund road projects, bridge repairs and mass transit.

Selections were based on such criteria as safety benefits, regional economic conditions, the technical and financial feasibility, job creation, energy efficiency and operational sustainability.

Kittanning Borough Can’t Agree on Buying Garbage Truck

The full-eight member Kittanning Borough Council could not agree on two separate motions for purchasing a new garbage truck through Tri-Country Truck Center.

The full-eight member Kittanning Borough Council could not agree on two separate motions for purchasing a new garbage truck through Tri-Country Truck Center.

by Jonathan Weaver

An effort to replace a 10-year-old garbage truck in Kittanning Borough was dashed, at least temporarily.

After detailed discussion last month and throughout the past few sessions, Kittanning Borough elected officials were not able to agree on a plan to purchase the borough a new garbage truck.

First Ward Councilwoman Betsy Wilt attempted two separate motions to purchase the truck from Tri-County Truck Center, along Route 28/66, at last night’s regular meeting, but both did not result in enough positive votes.

Wilt’s initial request included purchasing the truck, but would have required a $2 per month garbage fee increase in order to finance the purchase.

“And, I’d also like a resolution attached to that that when (the truck) is paid off, the $2 increase would go into a separate fund for the purchase of the next garbage truck we need,” Wilt said. “Because I think that’s what happened the last time we needed (a truck). We did have a raise in the rates, but we didn’t have the money saved after it was paid off.”

Kittanning Borough Council President Kim Fox said a study on Borough garbage expenses should be done before the municipality agrees to purchase a new garbage truck with taxpayer dollars.

Kittanning Borough Council President Kim Fox said a study on Borough garbage expenses should be done before the municipality agrees to purchase a new garbage truck with taxpayer dollars.

Wilt estimated it would take seven years to pay off the new truck.

Mayor Kirk Atwood and Council President Kim Fox agreed raising garbage rates would not do.

“Raising our fee is not acceptable,” Mayor Atwood said. “We’re $7 higher than Ford City per month! This is a tax increase – we’re going to shell it like it’s not.”

Council President Fox added that garbage rates increased $5 just within the past decade and council members should at least look at possibly sourcing out waste management.

“I think there are other ways to make some changes financially that I think would pay for the garbage truck,” Fox said. “I think we have some options that more than cover it.

“We owe it to the residents to do a study and get quotes. In the past, it hasn’t been feasible.”

Councilman Andy Peters justified the increase would break down to $2 per week, which is referred to as “peanuts.”

Former Councilman Tom Close argued that council members and former police officials have not properly-enforced the system.

As part of the final budget, council members project garbage collection will collect about $750,000 in 2017. But, after more than a handful of expenses, Kittanning Borough will only profit about $336,400.

Fire Company Purchases Equipment with Event Profits

During the past two years of Kittanning Hose Company #1 fundraisers, firefighters have spent nearly $60,000 in event profits and grant dollars toward safety gear, air packs and other tools.

During the past two years of Kittanning Hose Company #1 fundraisers, firefighters have spent nearly $60,000 in event profits and grant dollars toward safety gear, air packs and other tools.

by Jonathan Weaver

Community residents that have attended local Kittanning Hose Company #1 fundraisers the past few years have made a difference in the safety of the fire fighters!

Fire Chief Gene Stephens said the past two years, the group has been able to purchase more than a dozen sets of gear – including coat, pants, boots and gloves –, 10 new reconditioned air packs and hand tools.

“(The turnout gear is) about a $3,000 bill – per person,” Chief Stephens said. “We didn’t compromise on any safety.

“The past two years, between the gear, air packs and accessory tools, we spent between $50-60,000.”

Air packs came from Canada – at a deal of buy nine, get one free. Air packs contain 45 minutes of air before they are refilled by Kittanning Hose Company #4.

“But, if you look at the great shape our volunteers are in, we probably get about a half-hour,” Chief Stephens laughed.

The fire company’s four major fundraising events each year include the Kittanning Trout Derby the third weekend of April, the Waves of Thunder motorcycle/car show Father’s Day Weekend, Riverbration in August, and a Fall gun raffle at the West Kittanning Fire Hall.

“We do a lot of soliciting for sponsorships and donations. I can’t thank the residents, the businesses and everyone in the surrounding communities (enough) – they couldn’t go on without (that support),” Chief Stephens said. “Businesses and people from all over the place. We don’t just sit back and ask for money.

“Without that, we probably wouldn’t be able to survive today.”

Rob Nemchek - who became a firefighter in mid-November after moving into town from Chicora - tries on an air pack during training the last week of November and receives help from Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Kline and Firefighter Patrick Shuster.

Rob Nemchek – who became a firefighter in mid-November after moving into town from Chicora – tries on an air pack during training the last week of November and receives help from Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Kline and Firefighter Patrick Shuster.

Fire department officials also utilize state fire grant money received annually and regularly apply for federal grants to ease the burden of equipment and reoccurring bills above the Borough’s $10,000 allotment.

Chief Stephens also emphasized that Kittanning Hose Company #1 is not the only entity that ‘profits’ from the community events.

“Everything we do brings a lot of people into the community, for more than one day,” Chief Stephens said. “We have people come in from South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey – from all over.”

Firefighters are already organizing the annual trout derby – held at Cowanshannock Creek in Rayburn Township. This year’s event is to be held April 29-30.

A pair of new firefighters tried on a pair of the air packs last week.

New Firefighter Rob Nemchek – originally from Chicora – was sworn into the department in mid-November and was at his first training the week after Thanksgiving.

“This is all new to me,” Nemchek said. “Whenever I moved here (in February), I wanted to be part of the town. I wanted to be active.

“It’s great – everyone seems to be real-friendly here. I look forward to seeing what all I can do.”

The 2000 Karns City graduate, Nemchek has also been in the U.S. Army Reserves since 2010.

Firefighters have also opened a fund for a new fire truck in the future.