Category: Ford City

Ford City Undecided on Final Cannon Color

The Ford City cannon has been purple and gold since the school closed after June’s graduation, but some of the community wants to keep the local school colors prominently on the cannon. (KP File Photo)

by Jonathan Weaver

The former-Ford City Junior/Senior High cannon has been painted many colors during the former rivalry with Kittanning, but its final stain for Ford City Memorial Park is up for debate.

Facilities and Property Director Bill Henley reminded Ford City Borough officials that school board directors approved the donation of the German cannon in December 2014, but Ford City officials need to find a copy of that letter.

Councilwoman Kathy Bartuccio leads a local committee to determine its final hue and location.

“Mr. Henley told me that they want the cannon removed from that area,” Bartuccio said. “So, as far as I know, the cannon is ours and we just have to decide where we’re going to place it in the park and what we’re going to do with it.

“If they sell the property, they want it gone before that.”

A 1976 Ford City High graduate, Bartuccio said the cannon was also the school colors before red and white paint was thrown over top to signify the local rivalry.

“Between the two it was a lot of fun,” Bartuccio said.

In June, former Councilwoman Vicki Schaub hoped the cannon could be restored to its natural color, however, some committee members want to keep it purple and gold.

“That way it would be a memory for the last graduating class,” Bartuccio said.

Other committee members include Councilman Marc Mantini, local historian Bill Oleksak and County Veterans Affairs Director Chuck Righi.

Borough Parks and Recreation Committee Member Stacy Klukan said cannons in Brackenridge are the original color, not brown and gold for Highlands High School. She suggested the local cannon also be restored and placed near the War Memorial.

Schaub applauded Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post #4843 for possible renovations in the future. The Post requested the cannon following the school’s closure.

Mantini – speaking as mayor in June – also thanked the members for their volunteer donation.

Former Post commander Karl Swigart of North Buffalo Township first talked with School Board Director Paul Lobby about giving the cannon to the Post years ago. His first recommendation was for it to be donated to the borough to be placed in Memorial Park.

“Regardless which area they put it in, I brought it up at the meeting to maybe donate some money and have it repainted or whatever it would take,” Swigart said. “With all the different classes coming back to Ford City and all the events in the park, at least people who went to Ford City High School throughout the years would see the old cannon.”

Council Vice-President Tyson Klukan (a 2010 Ford City graduate) isn’t on the cannon committee, but is just glad the cannon will remain in Ford City.

“It’ll be nice to see a small part of history stay in town,” Klukan said.

Committee members will meet the second week of May.

Crime Watch President Dean Hutchinson also invited all elected officials and citizens in attendance to attend tonight’s crime watch meeting – which begins at 6PM at the Latin American Club.

Mayor Jeff Cogley said the organization would be a great thing for local residents to get involved in and that the community involvement helps local police officers.

FC Police Patrolman Given Sergeant Status

Mayor Jeff Cogley congratulates Officer Jonathan Freel to his new position as police Sergeant in the Ford City Police Department. Freel was the Interim Police Chief prior to the hiring of Roger Wright (background) last month.

by David Croyle

Much has changed over the past thirty days for Ford City policeman Jonathan Freel.

It began on March 14 with Council removing Freel as Interim Police Chief and having him return to part-time officer status.

Last night, Freel’s position in the police department was elevated to the status of Police Sergeant.

Ford City Mayor Jeff Cogley made the new assignment as he stood in front the council table before the audience.

“By the authority vested from this office and the citizens of the Borough of Ford City, I would like to promote you to Sergeant on this day, Monday, April 11, 2016.”

Freel’s promotion comes with an increase in compensation to the hourly rate of $16.50.

New Ford City Police Chief Roger Wright explained Freel’s duties as sergeant.

“He will have added responsibilities to be determined once we start writing some policies. Jonathan is a very good officer. He has earned the Sergeant position within this department. He stepped up and acted as the Interim Chief. He shows very good leadership skills and that’s what we need out of our senior officer.”

Wright said Freel will remain on part-time status, but that with case loads that included going to court, it could reach near the maximum of 40 hours.

Along with Freel’s promotion, Wright recommended increases in salary for all the part-time officers. Council President Carol Fenyes explained the various levels before Council voted on it.

Ford City Council President Carol Fenyes listed the new salaries of part-time police officers prior to Council approving the raises.

“We have a new pay scale we would like to put into effect in the police department effective April 10. Upon hire, the part-time officers would make $15.35 per hour; after two years of continuous service, they will be given $16.00 per hour. Upon promotion to Sergeant, they would receive $16.50 per hour.”

Councilman Marc Mantini made the motion to approve, and it received a second by Councilman Tyson Klukan. All voted in favor of the raise.

Wright said the department has been operating with fewer part-time officers than anticipated in this year’s budget because the force was not in total operation during the first several months of this year. He said with that money still in the budget, the raises will not have any impact on the $184,821 allocated to the police department for part-time salaries.

“We will still be well within budget – even next year if we run the same amount of shifts – and the reason being is the overlap of shifts as opposed to putting two guys together for a longer period of time.”

Wright said there are currently 64 open hours per week in the schedule that new part-time officers will share to complete the roster.

The Ford City Police Department currently has four part-time officers, but Council also voted last night to act on the recommendation of Mayor Cogley and hire four more officers, including Ryan Spencer, Michael Greenlee, Brian Stotlemyer, and Robert Yough.

Part-time officers must pass drug tests and background checks before commencing employment, followed by a six-month probationary period.

Tyson Klukan complimented Wright’s report showing 20 drug investigations that have been launched during the last 30 days.

“I would like to commend you and your department along with the Mayor on your first major drug bust. It was a very large operation that you guys took on. We would love to see more of these happening obviously and make Ford City a safe place – and public safety is a priority. So thank you guys – thank your department.”