Here is a look at the top stories of local interest published in The Indiana Gazette during the week of Dec. 1-7:
SUNDAY, DEC. 1
Merchants participating in Indiana Borough’s Downtown Dollars initiative found the new program to be rather well-received — so much so that several businesses ran out of the coupon-like credits that were distributed to shoppers on Saturday.
Downtown Indiana Inc. started the Downtown Dollars program this year, timed to coincide with Small Business Saturday, when shoppers are encouraged to hit locally owned shops one day after the holiday hustle of Black Friday. The program offered 10 percent of a customer’s total purchase in Downtown Dollars. That means that anyone spending $100, for example, received $10 in Downtown Dollars.
MONDAY, DEC. 2
A Burrell Township man reportedly gunned down his former girlfriend in her home near Blairsville, and has been jailed in Greensburg to face attempted murder charges. State police reported that Arthur Whitfield, 51, of Josephine, shot Holly Embry several times with a .380-caliber pistol at 9:30 p.m. Sunday in a bedroom in her residence at 708 W. First Ave. in Derry Township, Westmoreland County, but left Embry’s three children and his 21-year-old daughter, Alisha Whitfield, unharmed.
Embry, 35, was flown by helicopter to UPMC-Presbyterian in Pittsburgh, according to police. A hospital spokeswoman said UPMC releases no information about patients who are victims of violent crimes. State troopers at Greensburg captured Whitfield in the area a few hours after the shooting was reported. He was taken before District Judge Mark Bilik in Bradenville for preliminary arraignment and was sent to Westmoreland County Prison with bond set at $250,000.
TUESDAY, DEC. 3
A Young Township man was killed at about 9:30 p.m. Monday when the station wagon he was driving hit a utility pole along Park Drive, a short distance north of Clarksburg, the Indiana County coroner’s office reported.
Chief Deputy Coroner Jerry Overman Jr. reported Peter Cindric Jr., 37, of the Iselin area, failed to use a seat belt and was partially ejected through the sunroof of the vehicle when it hit the pole and overturned. Overman said Cindric died of injuries to his head and chest.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 4
Indiana Borough council adopted the 2014 budget on Tuesday, holding the line on taxes and providing for a slight spending increase. Council adopted the budget on a 7-1 vote, with Councilman Gerald Smith dissenting. The $6.06 million spending plan is an increase of about 0.5 percent over last year.
Expenses are exceeding projected revenues by roughly $421,000, and officials plan to draw from the borough’s general fund balance to cover the difference. A bit less than half of the general budget, around $2.68 million, is accounted for by the police department, which expects to see its expenses rise nearly 4 percent, mostly on wage and salary increases and growing health insurance costs.
THURSDAY, DEC. 5
Indiana Borough intends to put two part-time parking enforcement officers on the streets in 2014. Bill Sutton, police chief and borough manager, said the extra hands will give the borough’s parking division some added flexibility and help provide better enforcement of parking rules, especially in outlying permit-parking-only areas.
Many of the complaints the division has received relate to vehicles parked illegally in permit-only areas, and it needs to keep better tabs on those places, Sutton said. The parking division had five officers but was reduced to four when the officers went to full-time status in 2011, Sutton said. And of those, one officer currently is on extended medical leave.
FRIDAY, DEC. 6
Outgoing county Coroner Michael Baker on Thursday received the nomination for the county commissioner position that will be vacated by Dave Frick at a special meeting of the Indiana County Republican Committee. Baker is expected to take the seat not long after Frick steps down Dec. 31, pending confirmation of the nomination by Indiana County President Judge William Martin. Though Martin has the final say, it is highly likely that the president judge will appoint Baker based on the Republican committee’s recommendation.
The term that Baker was selected to complete runs through the end of 2015. Thirteen individuals stepped forward in the hope of taking Frick’s place. All candidates had to be registered Republicans at the time Frick was elected to his current term in November 2012.
SATURDAY, DEC. 7
The Indiana County Chamber of Commerce next year will launch a new “clearing house”-style program to match job-seekers with on-the-job learning and training opportunities at area businesses and worksites. The Indiana County Chamber of Commerce Center for Internships will begin operation on Feb. 1, chamber board chairman Robert Kane announced Friday at the organization’s annual membership luncheon at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.
Kane, chairman and CEO of Reliant Holdings, in White Township, said he spearheaded the internship center idea because of his own positive, productive experience serving as an intern with the Reschini insurance agency while he was a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.