Here is a look at the top stories of local interest published in The Indiana Gazette during the week of Sept. 8-14.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 8
The community mourned the passing of Mark A. Hess, beloved longtime swimming coach at Indiana Area High School and for the YMCA. Hess, 57, died at his Indiana home on Sept. 6. He had taught health and physical education at Indiana Area Junior High School since 1984. He had been inducted into the Indiana County Sports Hall of Fame in May.
He is survived by his wife, four sons, a sister, and a number of other relatives. Memorial contributions may be made to Zion Lutheran Church, Indiana, and the Indiana High School Swim Team Boosters Club. Online condolences may be made at www.rbfh.net.
MONDAY, SEPT. 9
The shuttered Gorell replacement window and door plant in White Township has been approved for a tax break program intended as an incentive for a new owner or developer to put the property back in business. The Indiana Area School District board of directors on Monday approved designation of the former Gorell Enterprises Inc. factory and grounds along Wayne Avenue as a Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone.
As a KOEZ property, a new owner or developer would be exempt from paying real estate taxes on it from 2014 to 2023. For the current school year, the school tax bill for the property is $16,377, according to district business manager Jared Cronauer.
TUESDAY, SEPT. 10
Indiana Borough council has asked the Indiana County Court of Common Pleas to allow the borough to intervene in and participate in a hearing on an appeal from a group of property owners opposed to a decision made by the Indiana Borough Planning Commission. The twist is that the borough wants to side with the property owners.
Members of the borough’s planning commission are appointed by council, and several years ago council delegated to the commission’s five members the authority to approve or disapprove certain land use projects. The two bodies do not always agree on some elements of development projects.
Following a hearing before Indiana County Judge Thomas Bianco on Monday, Indiana Borough Manager Bill Sutton and council President Nancy Jones said a majority of council members feel the planning commission acted contrary to the borough’s zoning ordinance in May when the commission granted final approval for a controversial high-density student housing project at 931 Oakland Ave.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 11
White Township planners have approved an addition to Indiana Regional Medical Center that will update its surgical services and intensive care unit. Planning commission members greenlighted the development Tuesday. The addition will put two new floors above IRMC’s emergency department and also improve access to that area.
The construction, with a cost yet to be determined, will also extend an access road from South Sixth Street, increase parking and feature some minor updates to the emergency room.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 12
An Ebensburg man has been charged with five felonies in connection with a bank robbery Tuesday at the S&T Bank in Armagh, according to state police at Indiana. Jeffrey Pellegrino faces three counts of aggravated assault as well as two other charges — robbery with intent to inflict bodily injury and theft by unlawful taking.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 13
A Commodore man was found not guilty of criminal charges and was released from jail Thursday after two psychiatrists agreed that he was legally insane when he shot his girlfriend at the front door of their home almost two years ago. John Reome, 43, was cleared of 10 counts including attempted murder for the Jan. 29, 2012, shooting of Billie Jo Varner, following a non-jury trial before Indiana County Judge Thomas Bianco.
Because the psychiatrists also agreed that Reome was no longer insane — that his mental condition had stabilized during the 20 months he spent under medical care in Indiana County Jail, and that he was competent to participate in the court case — he was not required to remain under court supervision or further mental health care.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 14
A former Indiana doctor will spend the next seven to 15 years in a state prison for trading prescriptions and money in exchange for sex with two female patients addicted to painkillers.
Tahir Mir, 62, also was ordered to pay fines totaling $75,000. In sentencing Mir, Indiana County President Judge William Martin said he considered Mir’s many years of service to the community.
But, he said, he also took into account the harm Mir’s actions caused the community.
A jury convicted Mir in June of counts of writing unlawful prescriptions and conspiracy to write unlawful prescriptions. Martin imposed concurrent sentences of six to 15 years and seven to 15 years in prison.