Here is a look at the top stories of local interest published in The Indiana Gazette during the week of March 17-23.
SUNDAY, MARCH 17
Hundreds of people turned out for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade along Philadelphia Street in downtown Indiana on Saturday. Featured during the festivities was a leprechaun look-alike contest as well as live bagpipe music.
MONDAY, MARCH 18
The “My Bike” program kicked off in Indiana County through Indiana Regional Medical Center, the children’s charity Variety and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. The kickoff event launched an identification and awareness campaign to seek children with disabilities who are eligible for a special bicycle. Each adaptive bike is customized for the rider and helps improve the rider’s social and physical well-being, according to information provided by the program, which covers 10 counties, including Indiana.
TUESDAY, MARCH 19
The question of whether guns and armed security officers are needed in schools, and how their presence might impact educational programming and taxes, was discussed again Monday during an expanded public comment period at the monthly work session of the board of the Marion Center Area School District.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20
Indiana University of Pennsylvania couldn’t match West Liberty’s firepower from 3-point range and lost to the Hilltoppers, 86-63, in the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region championship game Tuesday night. No. 1-ranked West Liberty (33-1), made 13 of 25 3-point attempts to IUP’s 5 of 19, and the Hilltoppers claimed their third straight regional title and a berth in the Elite Eight in Louisville, Ky. IUP, ranked 10th in the nation, closed the season with a 26-6 record.
THURSDAY, MARCH 21
More than two years of labor negotiations between the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and its professors formally concluded Wednesday, with the system’s governing body voting to sign off on a new four-year contract. The state system’s board of governors ratified the contract during a special meeting Wednesday morning in Harrisburg. Under the contract, professors will be receiving a base-pay increase of 1 percent this year and again in 2013-14 as well as a 2 percent increase in 2014-15. Also, they’ll receive time-of-service increases of 2.5 percent or 5 percent in each of the years as they move up the salary steps.
FRIDAY, MARCH 22
A malfunctioning exhaust fan in the men’s restroom started a fire just after midnight Friday that left the Pizza Hut/KFC restaurant on Corporate Drive heavily damaged. Black Lick Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bryan Palmer said the call for an automatic fire alarm came at 12:45 a.m. The assistant fire chief responded and reported smoke showing from the structure, Palmer said. When he arrived, he called in an alarm for a commercial structure fire — a call that brought in the surrounding fire companies.
Palmer said the restaurant was closed for business and no one was inside when the fire broke out. The owners of the restaurant said they will repair the damage and reopen as soon as possible.
SATURDAY, MARCH 23
Following approximately 90 minutes of testimony and questioning by three attorneys, Magisterial District Judge Mark Bilik ruled that sufficient evidence had been presented to hold Ronell Moses Jr., 20, of Penn Hills, and Jesus Santiago, 42, of Torrance, for court in the shooting death of Michael Volk, 24, of New Florence, on Dec. 29.
Moses is charged with criminal homicide, kidnapping to facilitate a felony and terroristic threats in connection with the shooting, which prosecutors describe as a drug deal gone bad, along Stone Quarry Road, Derry Township, Westmoreland County. Santiago, a resident of the mobile home where Volk died, is charged with criminal homicide, robbery and conspiracy. Tiffanny Blattenberger, 22, of Torrance, and Danielle Clawson, 24, of New Florence, are also charged with criminal homicide, robbery and conspiracy. The two women in February waived their preliminary hearings.