Armstrong County News
Probation Office gives life-changing hope to addicted paroles PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Thursday, 01 March 2012 12:30

There is now more than a glimmer of hope for drug and alcohol addicts being released from jail -- who wish to stay clean and sober -- thanks to the Intensive Supervision and Treatment program available to Armstrong County residents.

The program is one of the ideas initiated by Judge Kenneth Valasek to try to combat a serious issue for the community.

The Intensive Supervision and Treatment (IST) Program, first launched in 2009, has enrolled approximately 22 participants in the post-prison rehabilitation program.

Ten have graduated from the program and are moving on with their lives as productive members of society, according to Probation Officer Lee Grafton, who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of IST. Officer Grafton noted that this is the first step and that graduates have to continue to work on maintaining sobriety. There is no such thing as a cure.

He said some have already reunited with their families after nearly severing those relationships due to destructive behavior while in the grip of addiction. Most have found gainful employment, or are attending school.

Seven did not complete the program successfully, while the remaining five participants are currently active in treatment sessions. The program lasts an average of 18 to 24 months. The curriculum is divided into six "step-down" stages of treatment. Contact with the probation officer generally decreases as individuals are able to demonstrate a commitment to living a drug and alcohol free lifestyle.

The program is court ordered. Participants, who generally have had multiple drug and alcohol-related brushes with the law, agree to enter the program as an alternative to incarceration. Most are looking at a prison sentence ranging from one year to more than five years in jail.

Many participants have already been through a rehabilitation center two or three times. Grafton said that past failure does not disqualify offenders from participation. However, he pointed out the Probation Office does not recommend the IST program for hardened career criminals, violent offenders or convicted drug dealers. Maintaining the safety of the community is a top priority. Thus, the intensive supervision aspect is designed to monitor behavior closely.

Dave Hartman, Chief Probation Officer, said the first step, and perhaps the most important, is the initial interview to determine if a person is really interested in recovery.

"They must be interested in changing their lifestyles," said Hartman. "The interview is quite intense and if we detect that they still want to take drugs, or use alcohol…well, we will see them again when they’re ready."

Most clients undergo residential treatment, halfway house and community reintegration under the intensive supervision of the Probation Officer. A case manager is assigned to assist the client with educational, housing, employment, mental health or other needs that can impact upon their sobriety.

Contacts begin when they are in "Rehab" and continue throughout the duration of the program. During all phases, clients can receive rewards including small gift certificates donated by local businesses and churches. Clients must submit to random drug and alcohol screenings throughout the program.

The intensity of the treatment diminishes during the subsequent five stages until clients reach the Aftercare Stage, at which time the goal is to have them fully integrated into the community as shown by employment or in an educational program.

The length of time in each phase of the program can vary depending upon the client’s progress. Clients are required to be actively involved in support programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. This is critical to the client continuing to maintain an alcohol and drug free lifestyle. The individuals who have graduated are currently working to organize an IST alumni support group.

Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Thursday, 01 March 2012 12:20

Illegal dumping at Armstrong County Recycling Center’s ten collection sites is costing hundreds of dollars and placing trainees from the Progressive Workshop of Armstrong County at risk to injury and disease, said Sally Conklin, Planning Division Director

Conklin said since the recycling program was launched as a pilot project in 2004 with three trailer sites, "The amount of (recyclable) material collected at the sites has increased exponentially. Unfortunately, the amount of garbage and trash being discarded in and around the trailers has as well."

In some instances, illegal dumping has resulted in the Recycling Center being contacted and asked to remove the trailers. "In other locations, the property owners are threatening to have us pull our trailers from the site," she said.

Additionally, the garbage placed in or around the trailers is causing an increase in the program’s operating costs, because the Armstrong Recycling Center has to haul it away and pay an average of $150-a-ton "tipping" fee charged by area landfills.

But Conklin said she was most concerned about the dangers posed to Progressive Workshop trainees when handling waste materials such as moldy food containers, broken glass and even dirty diapers. Workshop trainees participate in the Center’s recycling program as part of their training.

Progressive Workshop is a non-profit vocational rehabilitation facility for individuals 18 and older who have a diagnosed physical, emotional or mental disability.

Acceptable recyclable items are as follows: #1 and #2 plastic bottles and jugs; green, clear and brown glass bottles and jars; newspapers and magazines; aluminum and steel cans, and corrugated cardboard.

Conklin said, "To place any other items in the trailers, or on the ground around the trailer is considered illegal dumping and Armstrong County authorities will vigorously prosecute anyone caught doing so."

Illegal dumping is a summary offense, punishable by a fine of no less than $50, or more than $300, and/or imprisonment for up to 90 days in the county jail.

County Electronic Monitoring Program Means Big Savings PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 10:10

County Electronic Monitoring Program Means Big Savings

 Armstrong County Probation Office announced yesterday electronic monitoring programs (ankle bracelet) for non-violent offenders saved county taxpayers a half million dollars in 2011 by eliminating 11,519 days of jail time for persons convicted minor crimes.

 Deputy Chief Probation Officer Regina B. Himes, who compiled last year’s figures, said the current costs to incarcerate a prisoner at Armstrong County Jail, in Rayburn Township, is $44.11 per day.

  The Probation Office said in addition to the $496,743.00 savings the county realized last year, the two electronic monitoring programs the office operates actually pays for itself as offenders are required to “rent” the ankle devices at a daily rate of  between $5 and $25, based on the person’s ability to pay. 

 Chief Probation Officer David Hartman said Armstrong County uses a Global Positioning type device for persons convicted of non-alcohol related offenses, and a device called “SCRAM” (secure containment alcohol monitoring) for people charged with drug and alcohol crimes such as drunk driving, or possession of illegal drugs.

 Hartman said Armstrong County began using the SCRAM monitoring system about two years ago with great success. He said the device not only tracks and prevents alcohol use; it has also become a vital, behavior modification tool in changing lives.

 “We have had first-time DUI offenders, not normally required to wear the SCRAM device, actually ask to wear it, especially during the Christmas and New Years holidays and all the way through Super Bowl Sunday,” Hartman said. “Some people are that serious about getting sober.”

 Hartman said the greatest success has been seen among repeat DUI offenders. He said if person can stay sober 90-120 days wearing the SCRAM, concurrent with court ordered counseling through agencies such as ARC Manor and Family A.C.T.S., Inc, their chances of recovery are markedly improved.

 Himes said records show the number of repeat DUI offenses has decreased by more than 92 percent since initiation of the SCRAM program. She said last year a total of 123 offenders were ordered to wear one of the two monitoring devices, 63 wore the GPS device and 60, the SCRAM. 

 The GPS device tracks an offender’s movement, such as to and from work. The SCRAM monitors alcohol use only. People convicted of drug-related crimes are often required to where the SCRAM device, because many will attempt to switch to alcohol to get “high” during the drug monitoring period of their sentence. 
 David L. Sproat, General Manager for Advance Alcohol Monitoring Programs, said the company’s SCRAM device is virtually “tamper-proof” and is so sensitive that it can readily distinguish between consumed alcohol and alcohol distillates used in a workplace environment such as certain types of paint and cleaners.

House hold products containing alcohol such as spray disinfectants, certain medicines and personal hygiene products that might trigger a false reading. All readings, false or positive, must be checked out and that means extra time consumed.

 SCRAM can read the smallest trace of consumed alcohol emitted through the pores of the skin.
 Hartman said proof of the program’s success can be measured in the faces of the offenders themselves. “They come in here the first day to have the device installed and you can see expressions of dejections and depression. Thirty days later when they return for an equipment check, or battery change, their faces are brighter and much more alert,” Hartman said.

 Sproat said a similar device that will detect drug use is in development and could be available in the next three to five years.

 “Technology is changing all the time,” he said. “But for now, SCRAM is doing what it was designed to do with many side benefits. Are our highways safer? Are families being put back together? The answer is yes.”


ARMSTRONG County Chief Probation Officer David Hartman displays the SCRAM ankle device persons convicted of alcohol related crimes are sometimes ordered to wear as a part of the terms of their sentence.

David Hartman, Chief Probation Officer
Armstrong County Probation Office
Room 303 Courthouse
Kittanning, PA 16201
(724) 548-3491; (724) 548-3460 FAX


Armstrong County Biggest Loser Contest off and Running. PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 09:59

 Groundhog Day marked the kickoff Armstrong County’s annual “Biggest Loser Contest” with 50county employees joining 11 teams in a spirited competition to determine which team and which individuals can lose the most weight between February 2 and April 12.

 County Human Resources Director Maryanne Koleny said the obvious goal of the contest is to lose weight, “But the ultimate goal is to improve an employee’s overall health in a fun way.”

 Employees, representing nearly all county agencies and departments, lost a total of 391.2 pounds in the 2011 Biggest Loser Contest. Participants weigh in each week. Cash prizes are awarded to the first and second place teams and the individuals who lose the most weight at the end of the 10-week contest.

 Last year the “No More Brownies” team split $300, or 35 percent of the purse for placing first with an average weight loss among team members of 9.04 percent. “Hot Tubs” took second place, losing an average of 6.48 percent. Team members split 25 percent of the purse. The top two individual winners lost 12.7 and 12.6 percent respectively of their total body weight and split the remaining money. Eighteen others were recognized for losing at least 10 pounds or more during the challenge.

 Prize money is raised through registration fees, weekly dues and fines on participants who gain weight. One dollar is charged for each pound gained. This is the seventh year of the contest.

For more information, contact:

Maryanne Koleny
Armstrong County Human Resources Director
Suite 210, Courthouse Annex Bldg.
Kittanning, PA 16201




County Commissioners Believe Armstrong Power Plant Closing Could Have Far Reaching Consequences PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 09:48

Members of the Armstrong County Board of Commissioners are deeply disturbed by the news of FirstEnergy Corporation’s decision to close its coal-fired, electric generating facility along the Allegheny River at Adrian, PA.

With the rate of unemployment in Armstrong County hovering around the national average of about 8.5 percent (Armstrong November figures), the loss of 60 jobs, 46 of them union jobs, today’s announcement was not welcome, commissioners said.

“This is a huge negative for Armstrong County with far reaching consequenses,” said Board Chairman Dave Battaglia, “Not only are good paying jobs being lost at the Armstrong Power Plant, jobs will certainly be lost in ancillary industries, support services and by small coal mining operations.

“What impact is this going to have on owner-operator coal truck drivers and fleet operators that deliver the 50 of 60 thousand tons coal to that plant every month? What about the privately owned machine shops that service equipment out there?”

Battaglia also wanted to know what effect the closing will have on local coal prices by pulling thousand of tons of locally produced coal from the market?

A spokesman for the industry, who wished not to be identified, believes coal prices will fall here, based on the “old business axiom” of too much supply with too little demand.

Commissioner Rich Fink said “these coal industry-related federal regulations are killing us in Western Pennsylvania, and especially here in Armstrong County where so much of our economy, including all the spinoff jobs, is tied into our coal and energy resources.”

Fink also made the following observations:

>The timeline for emission changes for coal fired power plants, requirement of new standards from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, are not realistic. Two or three years are not enough time to comply with these stringent clean air standards.

      >The federal Environmental Protection Agency has been “tone deaf” about what kind of impact the new standards will have on our coal-fired plants and the communities where they operate.

Commissioner Bob Bower said, “The continuance of these bureaucratic mandates not only leads to the erosion of our most valuable asset, our workforce, it further depletes the county tax base.

“At a time when job creation is our highest priority, it is very disappointing to find that we are loosing another multi-employment facility,” Bower said.

“I support steps to cleaner air. All that is needed is a more realistic time for utilities to meet the new standards. As of now, those new requirements must be met by 2016,” Fink concluded.

Meet and Greet Held with New County Commissioners PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:32



ARMSTRONG County Commissioners Dave Battaglia and Robert Bower flank Lenape Tech Culinary Arts students (left-right) Ashley Good, Ford City; Allison Bowser, NuMine; and Karrah Bush of Apollo during a “Meet the New Commissioners” luncheon last week in the Courthouse Annex. Lenape catered the event, which was paid for by Battaglia and Bower. The culinary class serves lunch to the public every Thursday and Friday at Lenape and students took opportunity to show off their latest menu. Being non-profit, prices are very reasonable students said.


 BELOW, Commissioner Battaglia assists students on the serving line as Lenape Tech Culinary Instructor Andrea Fahlor (center) keeps things moving along. More than 100 county employees, special guests, members of the local news media and a number of the public (who happened to be at the Court House on business) were served a delicious buffet luncheon in the lobby of the Courthouse Annex building. Hot trays of food and platters of fruit and vegetables from the luncheon were donated and delivered to the Armstrong County Health Center for patients and staff to enjoy later that afternoon.


LENAPE TECH culinary arts student fills a receptacle behind ice sculpture with lemonade, which then flows through the block of ice, coming out chilled in front. Students designed and carved the sculpture for the “Meet the New Commissioners” luncheon on January 13th. The sculpture depicts an old fashion “pop” (that’s soda for non-residents) bottle sitting atop an ornate pedestal. Carved on the front label are the words, “Lenape Tech Culinary Class of 2012.  


COUNTY employees and guests of the Courthouse help themselves to a delicious luncheon spread prepared by Lenape students for the Meet the Commissioners event.


COMMISSIONERS Bob Bower and Dave Battaglia enjoy a glass of lemonade from an ice sculpture dispenser that was designed and carved by Lenape Tech culinary class students. Sculpture was the centerpiece at the Meet the Commissioners Luncheon.

Armstrong Uniform Construction Code (UCC) Group Increases Membership PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 13:54

Burrell Township and Manorville Borough this month became the latest Armstrong County municipalities to join the Armstrong Uniform Construction Code (UCC) Group, bringing the total membership to 33 townships and boroughs.

 In addition to approving the membership requests of the two municipalities, Armstrong UCC re-elected William Reddinger of Mahoning Township to serve as chairman, Robert Conklin of Kittanning Township as Vice-Chairman and Rich McMillen of Kittanning Borough as Secretary/Treasurer.

The Armstrong UCC Group administers the Uniform Construction Code for its member municipalities.  The Group currently contracts with Bureau Veritas, a Third Party Inspection Agency, to conduct inspections. Benefits of members include competitive fees for inspection services, an Appeals Board, and technical support from the County.

 Contact: Darin Alviano          

Planning Coordinator


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Top Honor Named for Armstrong County Recycling Calendar PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Tuesday, 17 January 2012 11:43

PROGRESSIVE Workshop of Armstrong County is pleased to announce that Jessica Miller of northern Armstrong County is this year’s grand prizewinner of the 17th annual Recycling Center Calendar Poster Contest. Miss Miller, who is a 2011 graduate of Allegheny Clarion Valley Junior-Senior High School, captured the top prize with her clever take on the iconic “Uncle Sam Wants You!” poster” from World War I. Her poster rendering is featured on the cover of the 2012 Recycling Center calendar.                   


Sally Conklin, Planning Division Director of the Armstrong County Department of Planning and Development, said the calendars are free to the public and are available at Progressive Workshop, County Commissioners’ Office, the County Planning Department Office and the Recycling Center at 139 Armsdale Road. They will also be available at recycling Circuit Rider pickup locations in March.

January 2012 is Proclaimed as Stalker Awareness Month PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Thursday, 12 January 2012 13:25

 Armstrong County Commissioners signed a proclamation supporting January 2012 as National Stalker Awareness Month while recognizing efforts by HAVIN in dealing with cases of stalking here.


Jo Ellen Bowman, the Executive Director of HAVIN accepted the proclamation for the organization and welcomed the new Board of Commissioners, expressing her appreciation of the community for the Board’s continued support of HAVIN and the programs it offers.

joellen left to right: Commissioner Robert Bower, Commissioner David Battaglia, Executive Director of HAVIN, Jo Ellen Bowman and Commissioner Rich Fink       

 Statistics provided by HAVIN reveal that one in 12 women and 1 in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetimes.  Stalking victims often suffer severe emotional stress, which leads to a multitude of other health issues, causes loss of work and quality of life.

 Bowman said some victims have had to make complete identity and life changes to avoid their stalkers, adding that modern technology makes it easier for stalkers to track their victims; global positioning systems, cameras and computer spyware are just a few methods.

 Commissioner Robert Bower commended the volunteers and employees at HAVIN. “Their work often goes unrecognized out of a need for security and protection.”

 Commission Chairman Dave Battaglia agreed: “They are heroes unsung, plain and simple,” he said.

 HAVIN, Armstrong County law enforcement and the District Attorney provide services and interventions for stalking victims; unfortunately many times the crime goes unidentified.

 As a result, Bowman said, there is a continuing need to enhance the criminal justice system’s response to stalking and stalking victims, including aggressive investigation and prosecution. 

 Contributed by: Kathleen Rashlich

Contact: George J. Skamai

Armstrong County Commissioners’ Office                    

For Immediate Release


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Local Children Provide Decorations at the County Courthouse PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Monday, 12 December 2011 12:23

Armstrong County Courthouse is decorated for the holiday season and this year the decorators are some of our youngest county residents.  Every year the Board of Commissioners invites a different group to decorate the small trees adorning the veranda;   this year members of the Early Care & Education LEARN Team were selected.  Seventeen groups have participated to provide a variety of ornaments.  The trees will be on display beginning on November 18, 2011 as Kittanning celebrates Light Up the Night and remain displayed until into the new year. 

Ms. Kathy Shick and the LEARN Team organized the tree project with the early childhood community. She stated that they are an Armstrong County community collaborative for early childhood with  organization members who are child care providers, community members, health care, early childhood program providers, Librarians and anyone interested in getting the message out to the community on how important the first five year are for a child’s development. They also promote quality early care and support Keystone STARS.

   Displayed below are pictures of the 2011 tree display:

 Early Care & Education LEARN Team






Parent Child Home Program (ARIN)




 Armstrong County Head Start Program -  Centers from Ford City, Apollo, Dayton and Shannock.

 tree  Apollo Head Start

 Dayton Head Start    tree

treeShannock Head Start

Ford City Sites









 It's A Great Day Care - Rural Valley




 NYCE House - Ford City


 Happy Home Child Care - Ford City



 Kids Depot - Ford City




 Pre-K Counts


The Board of Commissioners would like to thank everyone involved in this year’s efforts.  The trees look wonderful and are being enjoyed by people from the community and visitors.

truckSpecial Thanks to Kittanning Hose Company #6 Tower 131 Volunteer Fire Department for the use of their ladder truck for decorating!

~ submitted by Kathleen Rashlich

Contact: George J. Skamai
Armstrong County Commissioners’ Office  For Immediate Release
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