by Jonathan Weaver
With the upcoming opening of Armstrong Junior-Senior High School along Buffington Drive in Manor Township, Manor Township officials are considering another option to ensure student safety – a full time police force.
At this time last year, Supervisor Pat Fabian and others sat with representatives met with other local municipalities interested in learning about combining to form a regional police force.
But those public discussions stalled this summer, and the high school opening is drawing closer.
“I have a lot of concern moving forward – especially with that new school coming into Manor Township,” Fabian said. “I know on average, Kittanning and Ford City (police officers) have quite-a-few calls to the high school, and now, you’re basically putting three schools in one. I would really like to explore if it’s feasible for the township to go full-time.”
Supervisors have an idea to present year-to-year contracts to officers, but have to review its legality and its consequences with Solicitor Jack Steiner.
Last month, Armstrong School District school board directors renewed a six-month contract with non-statutory school police officers at Armstrong Lock and Security in Kittanning to monitor all schools and functions.
Supervisor Paul Rearick wanted to initiate dialogue with School Superintendent Stan Chapp and Student Transportation, Child Accounting and Safe Schools Jon Fair about applying for more grant funds to hire a school resource officer after seeing the process succeed in another county district.
“Apollo-Ridge contracts with Kiski Township Police to actually have a Kiski Township Police officer assigned to their school,” Rearick said. “I think we have to explore that.”
The chief County detective who has seen the school district contract first-hand has heard police calls for back-up at Apollo-Ridge plummet because of that constant police presence.
Last year, Armstrong School District received a $40,000 grant through the state Department of Education to enhance security efforts – and grant funds continued this year.
Police Sergeant Terry Bish – a 17-year veteran of the part-time force – informed supervisors more grant funding – including for regionalization – is also now available.
“There are options,” Sgt. Bish said. “When that school opens, our township is going to be a lot different.”
The first records of police presence were in the early-1960’s. The approximately half-dozen man department also has a contract to patrol Manorville Borough.
Township officials and residents are invited to a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation public plans display February 18 to discuss upcoming construction plans between the Route 422 Wray Plan and Kittanning Township Elementary School (Silvis Hollow Road) intersections.
Impacted residents are able to view the plans and ask any questions from
5:30-7PM that Wednesday at the Kittanning Township Fire Hall.
Supervisors tabled a discussion on name badges until volunteer firefighters (who were also purchasing the identification cards) were able to show a prototype.
“I think it’s a good idea. I think anyone in a municipal government setting should have identification, especially with the world we live in today,” Rearick said.
Depending on how many are ordered, the badges would cost between $10 and $13 a piece.
The discussion also prompted a unanimous approval from supervisors to allow Township Secretary Jill Davis and Road Foreman Robert Southworth to purchase business cards.