Category: Local News

Space Heater Malfunction Causes Manor House Fire

Concerned Neighbors Mark Schrecengost and Laura Hillegass look on as Manor Township firefighters extinguish a fire inside neighbor Ronald Bish’s house along Old Route 66 Wednesday evening. Bish exited his home without harm.

By Jonathan Weaver

A Manor Township man received assistance from the American Red Cross at least for one night after an electrical fire spread throughout his home.

Shortly after 6PM, firefighters and emergency medical personnel were dispatched to the fire at 120 Old Route 66 – at the intersection with Scout Run Road – in Manor Township.

Manor Township Assistant Fire Chief Chad Evans said the fire began outside the bathroom in the one-floor house.

“According to the owner, he had a space heater in his bathroom which made smoke. He opened up the door and he had a pile of clothes that caught fire as well as the vanity to the sink,” Evans said. “He tried to extinguish it with a fire extinguisher and was unsuccessful so he called the fire department.

“There’s fire and smoke damage to the bathroom and kitchen, and then smoke damage to the rest of the house.”

The homeowner – identified as Ronald Bish – who was not hurt in the fire and evacuated safely according to neighbors. They also praised the quick response of firefighters.

Mark Schrecengost was one of those concerned and watched as firefighters battled the flames.

“I ran over to see where he was at and he was outside already,” Schrecengost said.

Laura Hillegass saw the fire after her dogs began barking and also saw Bish exit the structure.

In addition to Manor Township, volunteers from Ford City, Ford Cliff, Kittanning Hose Companies #4 and 6 and Bethel Township also assisted in the alarm.

Ford City Ambulance and Kittanning #6 medical technicians with the Rehab Unit also responded.

As darkness fell, thin smoke continued to leak out of the roof and medical responders set up a rehab station.

Scout Run Road opened to all traffic about 7:45 PM, but Manor Township firefighters were on-scene until after 8PM.

Evans did not call for a further fire marshal to investigate the fire, and will classify it as electrical.

State Police troopers from the Kittanning barracks are finalizing the incident report.

Military Tribute, Upgraded Flooring Options Presented for New School

A conceptual drawing of the military tribute

By Jonathan Weaver

Armstrong School District board directors are considering two design upgrades to the new Armstrong Junior-Senior High School in Manor Township.

L.R. Kimball Project Manager Brian Hayes presented a conceptual drawing of a military tribute for outside the library plaza.

“We developed this idea to provide a place of honor for veterans of the military. It’s a place of prominence on top of a hill with a scenic overlook,” Hayes said. “Those types of spaces are really cause for reflection.”

An 30-foot by 60-foot American flag would also serve as a focal point coming across the Judge Graff Bridge into Ford City to identify the school.

A Commonwealth flag, the five flags symbolizing each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and a flag dedicated to those Prisoners of War or Missing in Action would also be part of the tribute.

The tribute would also include a walkway of personalized bricks leading to the 100-foot tall flagpole (which would be more than 50 feet taller than that portion of the school) as part of a legacy brick program.

“There are enough bricks there for a reasonable amount per brick that it could probably pay for the entire project,” Hayes said.

Hayes said L.R. Kimball also designed a brick program at Penn State University.

Superintendent Stan Chapp was confident school administrators would be able to sell the 5,000 bricks as part of the program – at a cost of $75 per brick – “very quickly.”

The overall tribute would cost about $245,000, but the excess would cover the cost of memorial bricks. About $80,000 of expenses could be eliminated from the final cost if items are donated.

A $6,000 deduct change order would also be applied after moving and upgrading the flag pole from outside the building entrance.

Board Vice-President Christopher Choncek and other school directors said they would have to think about the tribute since it could cut into educational benefits for students.

Reynolds Construction On-Site Managers Rochelle Fennell and Stephen Reckhart also showed school directors samples of upgraded flooring that could save the school district maintenance cost in the future.

“We’re going to be moving into finishes, and the building contractor came to us and asked if the district would be interested in upgrading the flooring material,” Fennell said.

About 150,000 square feet of school hallways and classrooms are currently designed to utilize basic vinyl composition tile (VCT) – which has grown softer after asbestos was removed and could crack causing the state of Ohio to not even allow the material in their schools.

“They recommend a minimum of 3-5 layers of wax on it to protect it – which is a big undertaking to clean all the rooms,” Fennell said. “Based on our experience, you could have a concrete floor looking beautifully, and after you put VCT down, the next day you will see every blue mark and imperfection – especially in the corridor.”

Facilities Director Bill Henley said staff members currently clean flooring with two coats of seal and four coats of wax.

“No matter what you do, after the first day of school you come back three weeks later, it just looks like you didn’t do anything to those floors,” Henley said. “It doesn’t take long

Because of the problems, Fennell said an enhanced vinyl tile (VET) or a luxury vinyl tile (LVT) has been more-utilized lately. VET would cost about a dollar more per tile and LVT about $1.20 more.

“The main difference is the contractor is saying that VCT has 125 PSI strength, when you go to VET it rises to 400 and when you go to LVT, it goes to 500PSI,” Fennell said. “We think it would be a great improvement and upgrade to your school, and that you’ll be much-happier with either of these products.”

LVT tiles also would not have to be waxed by maintenance staff members, but there aren’t as many colors to choose from.

“If you start looking at material cost and labor cost with what you put into these floors now, you would get a pay back with this stuff in about 3-4 years,” Henley said. “We use a tremendous amount of money.”

An incorrect alternate bid was submitted in original designs – which are why construction managers did not recommend the upgrade.