Category: Local News

New Hydroelectric Plant Proposed for Kittanning Borough


from the KP NewsDesk

Local officials and citizens were informed of a new hydroelectric power generating plant that may be built in Kittanning.

The plant would be built on the Lock 7 dam along the shoreline of the Allegheny River in Kittanning Borough.

The project is being proposed by Rye Development, with primary offices in Portland, Oregon.

Rye Development Vice-President Erik Steimle led the discussion and listened to concerns raised by citizens at Tuesday's public meeting at the Kittanning Township Fire Hall.

Rye Development Vice-President Erik Steimle led the discussion and listened to concerns raised by citizens at Tuesday’s public meeting at the Kittanning Township Fire Hall.

Rye Vice-President Erik Steimle and Environmental Vice-Present Kelli Doherty explained the company’s project to approximately 12 people in an afternoon session who consisted of government officials, business leaders, and residents who could be displaced when the new plant is constructed.

Steimle said the proposal includes a 16.5 mega-watt power house that could potentially provide electricity for as many as 8,000 residents.  The power “house” would be located on the opposite side of Lock 7.

Steimle said that although Rye is applying to build plants all over the United States, they do not actually have any of them up and running yet.

“Right now, we are beginning the feasibility and permitting  process for a new hydro power project here.  The earliest the project construction could begin would be sometime in 2020,” Steimle told the Kittanning Paper.  He said the construction of the plant could employ anywhere from 50 to 200 workers. However, once completed, only a staff of three persons will be needed to actually work in the facility.

Access to the facility and a parking lot could be built through the purchase of property off of Maple Street. Steimle said homeowners have not yet been contacted as the project is still in the preliminary stages.

Miller from Snyder Associated Companies discussed dredging operations and participated personally in the discussion.

Jeff Miller from Snyder Associated Companies discussed dredging operations and participated personally in the discussion.

Jeff Miller with Snyder Associated Companies brought up concerns about the dredging moratorium current in effect for this part of the Allegheny River.  Steimle said that construction is a permitted activity in the water and therefore does not come under the same rules as business activity that was previously conducted by Snyder company, Glacial Sand and Gravel.

“It’s not any different; it’s just a different industry,” Miller told Doherty. He also questioned if Rye could financially support the Allegheny River Development Corporation, who fund-raises to keep the locks operational for recreational boating each year. Steimle was not able to discuss any agreements at this point since the planning is exploratory.

Kittanning First Ward Council persons Betsy Wilt and David Croyle expressed concerns with running power lines down Water Street and crossing Market.

“We’ve spent millions of dollars on Market Street. We’ve done a complete revitalization project that buried all of those (utility) lines. I would like to see how you are going to go from that location without going over Market Street to carry those lines with the capacity you are talking about,” Croyle said.

Croyle also said he would like to see an agreement between Rye and the borough to provide funding that would make it advantageous for the community to support the project.

Steimle encouraged the public to file comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by writing to them at 888 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20426 and reference docket P-14522.  Comments may be filed electronically by visiting: www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp.

A project map shows the location of the newly-proposed hydroelectric power generating plant that Rye Development wants to build on the Allegheny River in Kittanning Borough.

A project map shows the location of the newly-proposed hydroelectric power generating plant that Rye Development wants to build on the Allegheny River in Kittanning Borough.

Council Recommends Next Ford City Police Chief

Ford City Police Officer-in-Charge Michael Greenlee is congratulated by Borough Council, Solicitor Anthony Vigilante and Mayor Jeff Cogley after Council's recommendation for him to be named the next Borough Police Chief - pending successful contract negotiations.

Ford City Police Officer-in-Charge Michael Greenlee is congratulated by Borough Council, Solicitor Anthony Vigilante and Mayor Jeff Cogley after Council’s recommendation for him to be named the next Borough Police Chief – pending successful contract negotiations.

 

by Jonathan Weaver

Ford City Borough Police’s Officer-in-Charge is one step closer to becoming the newest Police Chief.

Councilwoman Beth Bowser made the motion for Officer Michael Greenlee’s promotion, seconded by Councilwoman Kathy Bartuccio.

Borough Council President Carol Fenyes gave a full list of contract terms the Borough will negotiate with, including: a $50,000 salary with the opportunity for annual increases, full benefits and a pension.

Borough Council President Carol Fenyes gave a full list of contract terms the Borough will negotiate with, including: a $50,000 salary with the opportunity for annual increases, full benefits and a pension.

“I think (Officer Greenlee’s) making a big improvement in the community. He loves the walk to check out the community, meet the business people,” Bartuccio said. “He’s been a real asset so far to our community and I think he’ll just improve it – I think he will.”

Except for an abstention, the motion was unanimously supported by Council.

Solicitor Anthony Vigilante said the hire is interim pending execution of a new contract upon negotiated terms.

Borough Council President Carol Fenyes identified all the benefits council members will negotiate with.

“The package that we agreed to was a three-year contract, $50,000 annually, a six-month review and then annual (review), annual increases tied to measurable milestones or goals, two weeks vacation, holidays the same as the borough, a $500 uniform allowance, full benefits, pension, three personal days and five sick days, Fenyes said.

“You have to take into consideration the credentials of the person you’re hiring – the length of his service, his previous history – and we’ve taken that all into consideration. As of the first of December, we would have to take a look at the new labor laws that would go in-effect for exempt employees- which he would be an exempt employee. Based on all of those parameters, we felt it would be better to go with a $50,000 (salary) at this point.”

Any contract revisions would have to be brought back before full Council.

Fenyes said three applicants were interviewed last week, including Officer Greenlee, West Kittanning Borough and East Franklin Township Officer Robert Gahagan and retired Pennsylvania State Police Sergeant Kenneth Markilinski.

While he said the three interviewed had “excellent credentials,” Borough Councilman Marc Mantini abstained from the vote since he did not attend last week’s interviews.

Borough Mayor Jeff Cogley credited Officer Greenlee with soliciting funds from local businesses to replace outdated tasers.

“It is overwhelming the money that’s coming in,” Mayor Cogley said. “We’re going to be able to get our new tasers. We have a lot of support.”

Former Council President Jerry Miklos argued the police department restructure was to save taxpayers money, not to restart the process.

“The idea was to hire a police chief not with benefits, not with retirement. (Council’s) starting down that same path – it cost us a fortune,” Miklos said.

Fenyes argued the negotiated-wage would be less than that of a Kittanning Borough Police patrol officer, as well as that the new parameters would hopefully keep a chief longer-term – as opposed to former Police Chief Roger Wright, who resigned less than five months into his service.

Out of six applicants, the three candidates were interviewed Monday, Sept. 19 before an executive session to discuss personnel Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Officer Greenlee was originally hired as a Ford City part-time officer in April before being promoted to Officer-in-Charge in mid-August.

During the report of August activity, Officer Greenlee reported 340 total arrests were made during the month, as well as the issue of 277 parking tickets. Nearly $2,300 was generated via those tickets.

Officer-in-Charge Greenlee gives the August police report during the beginning of last night's meeting.

Officer-in-Charge Greenlee gives the August police report during the beginning of last night’s meeting.

Ford City Borough Police responded to the majority of police calls as opposed to the Pennsylvania State Police – 209 versus six.

Advertisements were also approved for a part-time Borough Secretary, part-time Police Administrator, part-time and temporary public works employees and part-time police officers.

The Borough also signed a letter of intent to ask for assistance from the Department of Community and Economic Development to hire a possible Borough Manager and a Public Works Superintendent.

An executive session to discuss litigation immediately was held following the meeting.