homer city welcome sign

HOMER CITY — Borough officials are joining with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in a campaign to get truck drivers to quietly slow their vehicles through the residential areas of Route 119 in the traditional way.

Hampered in no small part by the back-and-forth path of Homer City’s boundary line with Center Township, which would require the borough to post four sets of signs to notify drivers and make an ordinance difficult to enforce, Homer City and PennDOT instead will rely on portable programmable message boards urging truckers to start slowing far in advance of the traffic signal at Route 56.

The awareness campaign will run six months and, in part, show feasibility of permanent restrictions to prohibit the use of engine brake retarder systems — by which increased noise is a trade-off for reducing wear on air brakes.

As a part of the notification program, Councilman Kenneth “Cal” Cecconi, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said that PennDOT also plans to broadcast a recorded loop announcement on citizens band radio channel 19 in the vicinity of the restriction.

In conjunction with efforts to halt use of engine brake retarder systems, council heard from lawyers for Jacobs Vehicle Systems Inc., of Bloomfield, Conn., which holds a trademark on the name “Jake Brake” for an engine brake retarder system that the company manufactures.

Attorneys advised against use of the phrase jake brakes as a trademark violation.

In other business, Homer City council:

• Accepted with regret the resignation of part-time police officer Hunter Scherf, who notified Mayor Arlene Wanatosky by letter that his promotion to full-time and addition of overtime hours with the Clymer Borough police department makes it difficult for him to work the hours assigned to him in Homer City.

Scherf wrote that he would complete the work shifts assigned to him for November and step down at the end of the month.

“I regret that I got that letter but I’m sure it was inevitable,” Wanatosky told council.

“He’s a good guy,” Council President Joe Iezzi said. “He’s well liked in this town.”

Wanatosky urged any qualified police officers seeking work to apply to the Homer City Police Department.

She also reported that the borough would host the annual fall meeting of the Indiana County Boroughs Association on Nov. 20 at Disobedient Spirits.

• Approved the tentative budget for 2020 and authorized Borough Manager Rob Nymick to advertise it for public review.

Council will vote on final adoption after considering public comment and any suggested changes at the next meeting on Dec. 3.

The spending plan lists $589,000 of revenues and expenses.

• Learned from Police Chief Tony Jellison that the area was visited Saturday by trick-or-treating children from distant communities after the Halloween festivity was postponed because of bad weather on Oct. 31.

“The people I talked to averaged between 250 and 300 people at their houses,” Jellison said. “We noticed all the parking lots were filled, so that means there were a lot of outsiders that came to Homer City. There were blocks and blocks of kids. They were everywhere.”

Iezzi vouched for him: “I had 17 people come to my house at one time. I asked where they were from. They ran down the street and wouldn’t tell me.”

Jellison also advised residents to be aware of telephone callers posing as Internal Revenue Service or Social Security representatives asking for personal and financial information in a quest to rob their bank accounts.

“I had three calls this week alone. The IRS and Social Security will not call you unless you reach out to them first,” Jellison said. “So if you get a call from IRS, Social Security or some other entity … do not give them any information.”

• Heard from Jim Pettenati of the Homer-Center Historical Society, who advised that families of military veterans may order replacements for any weathered veteran tribute banners that are posted on utility poles along the borough streets.

The program recently moved production from a Blairsville company to Fast Times Screen Printing and Sign Co., of White Township, which is offering to replace banners at $125 for those designed at Fast Times and $175 for those printed by the previous vendor.

Those interested may contact him at jpettenati@ gmail.com or (724) 479-3626 for details.

• Alerted residents that Central Indiana County Water Authority crews continue to inspect the water service lines in the borough and Center Township to find and repair leaks.

• Notified residents of Columbia and Oakland streets that Peoples Natural Gas Company crews soon will be replacing pipelines. Questions or concerns about the work should be directed to the gas company, Nymick said.

• Reappointed Irvin McMasters to a term on the Central Indiana County Joint Sanitary Authority board of directors.

• Approved the scheduled Light-Up Night festival and parade on Dec. 6 and authorized the police to block off the parade route that evening.

In conjunction with Light-Up Night, organizers are accepting nominations for the annual Good Citizen award. Application forms are available at the borough office.

• Accepted a bid of $300 from Bryan Cullen, of Aultman, to purchase an old unmarked police car that the borough posted for sale.

Staff writer/Web Editor, The Indiana (Pa.) Gazette

Staff Writer/Web Editor

Chauncey Ross represents the Gazette at the Indiana Area and Homer-Center school boards and White Township, Center Township, Homer City and Burrell Township, and is something of an Open Records, Right to Know and Sunshine Law advocate in the newsroom.