A look at some of the headlines gracing the pages of the Observer-Reporter and Waynesburg Republican this week in Greene County history:
University’s planning firm to focus on town
WAYNESBURG – The planning firm that has guided Waynesburg University’s campus expansion will now turn its attentions to the town as a whole.
JJR, an architecture firm based in Ann Arbor, Mich., will draft a master design plan for the borough. Officials from the borough and the university made the announcement at a meeting Wednesday.
“Waynesburg University continues to be a vital supporter of the economy in our region,” said borough Manager G. Edward Howard.
The university will donate about $70,000 to pay for JJR’s services. To express the borough’s gratitude, Mayor Blair Zimmerman presented Waynesburg University President Timothy Thyreen with a “key to the city.”
JJR will study how to integrate the town and the campus, and the firm should have an early draft of a plan by early spring.
State sues Consol for $58 million
The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has sued Consol Energy Inc., claiming the company’s mining activities were responsible for damaging the dam at Ryerson Station State Park.
The civil lawsuit, filed Thursday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, seeks more than $58 million in damages and alleges Consol deceived DCNR about the risks of damage from mining beneath the park.
The 62-acre Duke Lake was drained July 29, 2005, after inspections by DCNR and the Department of Environmental Protection revealed expanding cracks in the 45-year-old concrete dam. A month later, DCNR removed part of the spillway to prevent water from backing up in the lake bed during heavy rains.
The complaint alleges Consol knew there was an increased risk of damage to the dam as a result of its mining and intentionally concealed that knowledge from DCNR.
Consol knew from experience that mining beneath the high hill to which the dam abutted would cause “horizontal stresses” at the base of the hill, increasing pressure and forces on the dam, the lawsuit said.
Toothman: Two terms are enough
WAYNESBURG – After serving more than seven years in one of Greene County’s top political posts, Farley Toothman has had enough.
In an e-mailed newsletter sent to some constituents Tuesday morning, the Waynesburg attorney announced that he would not seek re-election to the board of commissioners.
Toothman did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday, but in his e-mail, he wrote: “This decision has not come easily. Though I am passionate about serving Greene County, after weeks of privately considering the changing landscape, I’ve decided that I can best serve the issues important to Greene County from some other capacity – what, I don’t know.”
While Toothman’s two fellow commissioners, Dave Coder and Scott Blair, have not officially announced their candidacies, both have indicated that their names will be on the ballot in the primary. Toothman wrote that he would not endorse or work for or against any of the candidates for commissioner.
Commissioners OK paperwork for shelter funding
WAYNESBURG – Greene County commissioners approved the paperwork Thursday that will help the county secure state funding to offset the cost of a planned homeless shelter.
Greene County has applied for a $200,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development to start construction of a shelter to house homeless people over a short-term. The state informally indicated that the county would receive some money, but the actual amount is unknown.
When a fire destroys a home, the displaced family is sometimes left scrambling to find a place to live. Jeff Marshall, the county’s emergency management director, said he sees that situation all too often in his work as a firefighter with Waynesburg Fire Department.
However, other occurrences, such as relationship break-ups or evictions can add to the need for such a facility in the county, according to Ann Bargerstock, the county’s director of planning and development.
Two killed in fiery crash at county airport
WAYNESBURG – Two men from West Virginia were killed instantly in a fiery crash at Greene County Airport Jan. 24.
The plane, a 1967 or 1968 Cessna 182, had just been refueled and the pilot was attempting to take off from the western end of the runway toward Waynesburg.
Witnesses said the plane never got more than 200 feet off the runway when the pilot attempted to turn right in an apparent effort to make an emergency landing. The plane rolled over with its wings perpendicular to the ground and the wing tip struck the ground.
Borough police criticized for enforcement policy
Judge Glenn Toothman criticized Waynesburg Borough Police for over-zealous law enforcement for the manner in which they have been policing the stop light at the intersection of High and Porter streets in the East End.
In sustaining appeals brought by two motorists who were charged with going through a red light, the Greene County jurist said:
“This is a case of unreasonable, irrational and, to our mind, undesirable law enforcement.
“We deplore traffic traps of any kind and believe they should be resorted to when extreme conditions make them necessary. We have never heard of a “traffic light trap” before, but it appears to this court this is what the borough has been operating at the End End intersection.”