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Rural Valley Borough Residents Surveys PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Ceschini   
Thursday, 12 July 2018 07:06

RURAL VALLEY BOROUGH RESIDENTS ASKED TO COMPLETE SURVEYS

Rural Valley Borough officials have a wish list of potential projects that need to be tackled, including upgrades to the borough’s water system. But they need help from residents before they can begin to take on those projects.

That’s because the borough is planning to apply for funding through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which requires residents to fill out a Demographic Survey.

Each year the county receives CDBG grant funds. Any project considered for CDBG funding must meet the eligibility and fundability requirements; therefore, demographic information is necessary.

Armstrong County Department of Planning and Development – on behalf of the Armstrong Board of Commissioners – will assist Rural Valley Borough in conducting those surveys.

“Rural Valley residents were randomly selected to complete the Demographic Survey,” said Kathy Heilman, of the county’s Planning and Development Department.

The surveys were mailed July 12th, with the requested return date of July 31st.

Rural Valley Borough Council President William Spera has asked that all residents who receive surveys to please return the completed surveys using the self-addressed stamped envelope provided.

All information will be held in the strictest of confidence. Questions may be directed to Kathy Heilman at 724-548-3720 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 
Broadband Availability and Access in Rural Pennsylvania PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Ceschini   
Thursday, 28 June 2018 11:15

Broadband Availability and Access in Rural Pennsylvania

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is currently sponsoring research, Broadband Availability and Access in Rural Pennsylvania, to analyze and assess broadband availability in Pennsylvania, and is asking Pennsylvania residents to participate in the research by taking the broadband speed test at http://broadbandtest.us.

The test results will help Pennsylvania State University researchers, led by Professor Sascha Meinrath, to measure actual internet speeds. The test will also provide participants with information about their broadband connection.  

If you’d like to help the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and our research partners at Penn State University map broadband access in Pennsylvania, please visit http://broadbandtest.us/ and take the broadband speed test. Thanks for your help.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania
625 Forster St., Room 902
Harrisburg, PA 17120

 
Kittanning Revitalization To Make Market Street Bloom PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Ceschini   
Wednesday, 16 May 2018 07:47

KITTANNING REVITALIZATION TO MAKE MARKET STREET BLOOM

Kittanning’s Market Street will be blooming with color this summer, offering folks more reason to linger a while longer and enjoy the borough’s downtown.

Downtown Kittanning has seen much improvement of late with its new tree-lined sidewalks, vintage-style street lights and standing clock. Now the Kittanning Revitalization Committee –  the group spearheading those improvements – wants to further elevate the street’s look and appeal by installing flower baskets high up on the light poles.

“The committee wanted to green the place up,” said Roger Mechling, Kittanning Revitalization Committee member.

The hope is that a blooming Market Street might result in a more vibrant downtown.  Mechling noted that similar steps have been taken in other cities and towns. Adding colorful and charming elements like this to the downtown may give current business owners additional incentive to improve their properties and create an attractive environment that encourages more business.

It will cost close to $6,000 to pay the committee’s project partner – the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy – to install the 24 wrought-iron flowering basket. The baskets will be affixed onto the light poles by the end of May. That cost is being paid for through a grant from The Smart Foundation.

However, additional donations are needed to pay a contractor to water and apply fertilizer to the plants using equipment that can extend to the baskets’ height.  

The summer-long maintenance will cost around $6,400. According to Mechling, the committee has already received a $1,000 donation.  The Redevelopment Authority of the County of Armstrong (RACA) is the agency which will help collect and disburse donations.  Tax deductible donations/checks should be made out to “RACA – Kittanning Revitalization” and should be mailed to the following address: 402 Market Street Kittanning, PA 16201.

The Revitalization Committee worked with the Armstrong County Board of Commissioners, the county’s Department of Planning and Development and Kittanning Borough to bring the project to fruition.

Further questions may be directed to Andy Bradigan at 724-543-3322 or Roger Mechling at 724-543-1120.

 
Armstrong County Planning Commission Reviews Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Ceschini   
Thursday, 01 March 2018 14:13

ARMSTRONG COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION REVIEWS REPORT

Last year saw the creation of 175 new land parcels in Armstrong County, according to a report reviewed by the Armstrong County Planning Commission.

Plans submitted in 33 municipalities to the Planning Commission for review increased by 12 from the previous year. The plans – 108 in total – consisted of a combination of subdivision and land development.

“It’s encouraging to see an uptick in land development activity – and there is every indication that it will continue through 2018,” said Harry Breski, chairman of the planning commission.

Armstrong County adopted its first subdivision and land development ordinance (SALDO) in 1958. All municipalities in Armstrong County, with the exception of Apollo Borough, are subject to this ordinance.  Apollo Borough adopted its own SALDO in 1999.

County SALDO requires subdivision approval prior to selling or conveying a portion of land.

SALDO also requires a land development plan when improvements of one lot or two or more contiguous parcels of land is proposed to involve – either initially or over time – a group of two or more residential or nonresidential buildings. This requirement also extends to instances involving a single nonresidential building – regardless of the number of occupants.

Adherence to SALDO requirements helps create accurate and recorded descriptions of land sold, protects the value of property and increases the marketability of land parcels within the county. It is also a way to make sure that subdivisions and land development do not pose any threats to public health and safety.

More information on SALDO can be found in the Citizen’s Guide to Subdivision and Land Development on the Armstrong County website under Planning and Development, via the Plans/Document link. Additional questions may be directed to the Department of Planning and Development at 724-548-3223.

 
Official Designation Given to Middle Allegheny River Water Trail PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Ceschini   
Wednesday, 28 February 2018 09:46

OFFICIAL DESIGNATION GIVEN TO MIDDLE ALLEGHENY RIVER WATER TRAIL

A section of the Allegheny River that winds through Armstrong County has received its official designation as the Middle Allegheny River Water Trail.

The designation was approved by the Pennsylvania Water Trails Partnership of the National Parks Service (NPS), the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC).

The Middle Allegheny River Water Trail is the newest Pennsylvania water trail, according to DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation.

Armstrong County received notification of the designation in early February 2018.

The designation positions Armstrong County for increased opportunities, according to Lynda J. Pozzuto, president of the Armstrong County Tourist Bureau’s Board of Directors.

“This is huge for Armstrong County,” Pozzuto said. “This opens the doors for national promotion and visibility as well as opportunities for funding water trail projects.”

Pozzuto noted that it has the potential to increase tourism. This, she said, can bring a positive economic impact to the county in addition to possible national recognition of special events that highlight the trail.

“The Middle Allegheny Water Trail will be included in an online database of trails which lists water trail description, maps, photographs and links to other websites like the Armstrong County Tourist Bureau,” she said.

Copies of the map, developed by the Armstrong County Tourist Bureau with assistance from the Armstrong County Department of Planning and Development, highlight points of interest along this 61-mile stretch of the Allegheny River.

Its main route begins at the water trail’s southern terminus at Freeport Riverfront Park and continues all the way to its northern terminus at Emlenton Launch, in Clarion County.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunities this will bring to Armstrong County,” Pozzuto said. “We are excited to show off the beautiful Allegheny River, and Armstrong County!”

Middle Allegheny River Water Trail Partners include Armstrong and Clarion counties; Baker Family Charitable Fund (through the Community Foundation); Allegheny Township, Westmoreland County; Cowanshannock Creek Watershed Association; East Brady Area Development; Ford City Borough; Freeport Borough; and West Kittanning Borough.

 
Armstrong UCC Building Permit Activity Review PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Ceschini   
Tuesday, 30 January 2018 14:41

ARMSTRONG UCC BUILDING PERMIT ACTIVITY REVIEW

Residential construction, including the building of manufactured homes, rose by one percent in 2017 from the previous year among participating municipalities within the Armstrong Uniform Construction Code (UCC) Group.

That is according to a report reviewed by UCC Group representatives during their January meeting in Kittanning.

The Armstrong UCC Group formed in 2004, several years after The Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code (UCC), Act 45 of 1999, became law. The purpose of UCC is to provide uniform standards for new construction and renovations. More than 90 percent of Pennsylvania's 2,562 municipalities have elected to administer and enforce the UCC locally using their own employees or via certified third party agencies (private code enforcement agencies) that they have retained.

Of the 45 municipalities in Armstrong County, 34 have elected to jointly administer the UCC through participation in the Armstrong County UCC Group.  The Group currently contracts with Bureau Veritas to provide third party inspection services for a set fee schedule.

Robert Conklin, Armstrong UCC Group vice-chairman and Kittanning Township supervisor, says municipalities belonging to the UCC Group have the advantage of obtaining a better rate when dealing with code enforcement agencies.

“Being part of a bigger group gives you more power when it comes to the bargaining table,” says Conklin. And, he adds, that since all municipalities are required to have an appeals board, being part of the UCC Group provides a larger pool from which to select appeals board members.

According to the Armstrong UCC 2017 report, last year saw a 13.9 percent increase from the previous year in overall permits issued among the Group’s participating municipalities – with Manor and East Franklin townships issuing the most permits. In addition to new residential construction and manufactured homes, permits were issued under categories that include new commercial construction, additions, renovations, demolitions, and others such as utilities, signs, pools and decks.

Although permit application numbers were up, Bureau Veritas Unit Manager Grant Kanish says 2017 wasn’t a big year for new commercial construction. However, some of the commercial projects of note included the construction of a grandstand at the Armstrong Junior-Senior High School in Manor Township and the construction of a new Dollar General store in Elderton Borough.

Kanish also has noted that there has been an increase in value of new homes being built over the last few years attributed to the construction of larger wood-framed or stick-built homes.

When it comes to the permit process, Kanish suggests that business owners and residents who are planning to build, demolish, or alter a structure should first contact their borough or township to see if there are zoning or sewage requirements.

“It all starts with the municipality,” says Kanish.

 
County Takes Next Step in Blight Prevention PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Ceschini   
Monday, 29 January 2018 10:40

COUNTY TAKES NEXT STEP IN BLIGHT PREVENTION

In a continued effort to halt the spread of blighted properties throughout Armstrong County, the Board of Commissioners approved a contract in January of 2018 with Christopher Gulotta, of The Gulotta Group, for consulting services in the development of a land bank.

A land bank is a governmental body that promotes redevelopment by converting abandoned, vacant and tax delinquent properties into productive use with a goal toward stabilizing and revitalizing communities.

The creation of a land bank was among the recommendations included within the Armstrong County Blight Task Force Report, which was issued in 2017.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Pat Fabian said this is an important step in tackling property blight.

“The problems associated with chronically deteriorated and abandoned properties were among the issues raised during our town hall meetings,” Fabian said. “It’s important to be proactive in dealing with these problems before they get worse, and the development of a land bank is one of the ways to do that.”

The process of developing a land bank is expected to take at least eight or nine months and will involve a number of stakeholder meetings and discussion with local and county officials.
Gulotta will also hold a presentation in the Kittanning area in March of 2018 for municipal officials and their representatives to discuss multiple local ordinances and procedures that are effective in tackling issues related to blight.

Christopher Gulotta, Principal of The Gulotta Group from Easton, Pa., provides technical assistance in the areas of affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization and economic development. He served as the executive director of the Redevelopment and Housing Authorities of Cumberland County for 30 years before forming The Gulotta Group in 2010. Since then, Gulotta has worked with at least four counties – including Westmoreland – to form land banks.

Services provided by The Gulotta Group are being paid for with funding from a DCED grant, which was awarded to Armstrong County for the purpose of assisting local municipalities in blight remediation efforts.

 
Bridge Replacement PDF Print E-mail
Written by County Systems Administrator   
Thursday, 16 November 2017 13:52

BRIDGE REPLACEMENT

After a five-month closure, motorists are once again free to drive across Cherry Run Hill Bridge in Plumcreek Township now that the bridge replacement project has wrapped up.

The bridge, which crosses Cherry Run Hill Road in the southwest corner of Plumcreek Township, was closed to traffic from May 8, 2017 to October 12, 2017. Traffic during the closure was detoured along Smith, Girty and Ridge roads.

Robert Dale Rearick, chairman of the Plumcreek Township Board of Supervisors, noted the structurally deficient condition of the bridge necessitated the replacement project.

“The bridge itself was really deteriorated. It was in sad shape –  and narrow,” he said, adding that the replacement project included the construction of a double box culvert.

“Now the road is wider and the bridge looks a lot better,” he said.

The contract was awarded to Curry & Kepple, Inc., of New Alexandria, Pa., for the bid amount of $261,779.

The project was paid for through a combination of funding streams that included a grant through the Dirt and Gravel Road Program; Act 13 funds provided by the Armstrong County Commissioners for at-risk and deteriorated bridges; and a local share from Plumcreek township.

In a letter to the county, Rearick expressed appreciation on behalf of the Board of Supervisors for help in funding the project:

“The Plumcreek Township Board of Supervisors would like to thank the Armstrong County Board of Commissioners and the Armstrong County Planning and Development for their contribution to the funding of the Cherry Run Hill Bridge Replacement Project,” Rearick said. “Without your help, this project would not have been possible.”

 
New Play Equipment PDF Print E-mail
Written by County Systems Administrator   
Thursday, 09 November 2017 14:55

NEW PLAY EQUIPMENT

Rural Valley Borough recently completed the installation of new playground equipment at the Shannock Valley Park.  The new equipment features a play apparatus that includes climbing structures, slides and a four-bay swing set. As part of the project, two benches, a covered picnic table and a new sidewalk have been installed within the playground vicinity.  

Lillian Bartosiewicz, secretary and treasurer of both Rural Valley Borough and the Shannock Valley Recreation Committee, said the project increased the overall play area. She also noted that the previous equipment didn’t include swings.

“it’s a very nice looking playground and it seems to be getting a lot of use,” Bartosiewicz said.

Rick Wranich, president of the Shannock Valley Recreation Committee, said the intent of the project was to upgrade the west end playground area and add a shade table to the east end play area.

“By doing this we are able to supply a safe and family-friendly space to enjoy the park,” Wranich said. “With the upgrade to the west end playground area, we have enhanced the amenities of the pavilion area.”

The hope, he said, is that continued growth of the park will generate some additional pavilion rentals, which in turn will help with the committee’s annual budget.

The project was funded by a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Grant, and with contributions from Rural Valley Borough, the Shannock Valley Recreation Committee, the Rural Valley Lions Club and volunteers. The grant amount was $35,000.00.  Match was made up of cash and in-kind services.         

“The most rewarding part of this project was watching the community come together to make this project a success,” Wranich said. “Special thanks to our Project Manager Sally Conklin of the Armstrong County Department of Planning and Development, Rural Valley Borough Council, Rural Valley Lions Club and the many skilled volunteers from the community. A special thanks to the members of The Shannock Valley Recreation Committee and their continued support in serving our community.”

Still to be completed are improvements to an ADA parking space and the placement of a sign. That final portion of the project is expected to wrap up by no later than spring of 2018.


New Play Equipment

 
Kittanning Borough Seeks Facade Grant PDF Print E-mail
Written by County Systems Administrator   
Thursday, 02 November 2017 14:21

KITTANNING BOROUGH SEEKS FAÇADE GRANT

Kittanning Borough has applied for a Keystone Communities Façade Grant for up to $50,000 for improvements to the exteriors of eligible buildings in the central business district of Kittanning Borough.

If awarded, the money will help give a facelift to commercial buildings in the focus area. The maximum amount per building would be $5,000 and must be matched dollar for dollar by the business owner/building owner.

Kittanning Borough Council President Kim Fox sees the potential for attracting new businesses to the downtown area if grant funding comes through.

“This grant would be a huge benefit to the borough, allowing businesses to double the dollar amount of improvements to their storefronts,” Fox said.  “I have been in other communities that have taken advantage of this grant and it has made a big impact on their downtown business district.  This could also increase interest to new businesses considering our town.”

Eligible projects include: storefront façade; exterior restoration/painting; architectural elements and additions; awnings; exterior lighting; lighting signage; and signs.

If funded, the borough will hold a grant round during which time all interested parties can submit applications to be reviewed by a design committee. If awarded, funds are expected to become available sometime in the summer of 2018.

Those interested are asked to contact Sally Conklin, Program Manager with the Department of Planning and Development, at 724-548-3223 or by email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
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