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Ligonier Borough OKs partnership with conservancy

A tree-planting initiative spearheaded by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy could take root in Ligonier.

Borough council voted unanimously on Nov. 13 to partner with the organization on “Trees for Ligonier,” a forestry program through which the conservancy will help to plant up to 75 shade trees in the borough, conduct a full tree inventory and link the data to Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, mapping.

“The reason they chose Ligonier is because we’re ahead of most other communities in our area as far as the shade tree commission goes,” said Councilman Matthew Smith, chair of that committee.

Borough secretary-treasurer Paul Fry said the conservancy is working on securing funding for the project.

The conservancy manages TreeVitalize Pittsburgh, a partnership among the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County Parks and Tree Pittsburgh, which has led to the planting of more than 22,000 trees since 2008.

“They want to use us as an example as they move farther around the state and do projects like this,” Smith said.

Planting would be focused in the business district, Smith said. “It’s only where we choose,” he said. “They’re not going to put them wherever they want.”

The conservancy requested that the borough get residents involved to volunteer for planting and tending the trees, Smith said.

“It sounds like a good project since we already have a shade tree commission, and it will help the shade tree commission,” Councilman Pat Scanlon said.

“It will also bring attention to our community as they go out and reach out to other communities to do the same thing,” Smith said.

In other business, council accepted the resignation of Officer William Nicol from the police department, effective Oct. 31. Nicol held his position for six years.

“He did do a great job,” Chief John Berger said, adding that Nicol took a job with the police department in Grove City.

Berger said the department is going to try to make it through to the end of the year with current staffing, and he will look into hiring officers in 2015.

Council also approved:

• a request from the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce for police to stop traffic for Santa’s parade, to begin at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 28, and to bag parking meters on the northeast quadrant of the Diamond and the first three meters on Fairfield Street, next to the Ligonier Valley YMCA, for Misty Haven Carriage to transport Santa to town and to offer sleigh rides. Additionally, council approved the chamber’s request to bag two meters for the Townwide Open House on Dec. 7 in front of the library for the Kettlecorn Man from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, as well as a request to bag three meters for Misty Haven Carriage from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• a request from the chamber for free, two-hour parking at all meters on the Saturdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

• a request from resident Marsha Clark for a handicapped parking space in front of her East Main Street property for approximately eight months.

Councilman Jim McDonnell suggested that the borough devise a policy on voiding parking tickets. President Robert Helterbran said District Attorney John Peck said the mayor has full authority to void any tickets he deems appropriate.

Mayor Ormond “Butch” Bellas said when he determines whether to void a ticket, he goes by the situation and validity of the complaint about the ticket, and sometimes he reduces fines based on circumstances. McDonnell said 151 tickets have been voided in the past nine months, including 24 issued for parking in handicapped spaces. He said, on average, a ticket is voided every other day, which Bellas denied.

“It’s my discretion,” Bellas said.

Upon suggestion by a resident, Helterbran said council will definitely look into rerouting traffic during the Veterans Day ceremony on the Diamond next year.

The next meeting will be 7 p.m. Dec. 11.

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or [email protected].


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