Press Releases


Facade Improvements

A number of businesses in Kittanning Borough’s downtown district will improve their building facades this year thanks to a Keystone Communities Façade Grant.

From left: Don Myers, Chairman of the Armstrong County Board of Commissioners; Senator Joe Pittman (41st District); Armstrong County Commissioner Pat Fabian; Jason Renshaw, Vice Chairman of the Armstrong Board of Commissioners.

Exterior upgrades to a number of downtown Kittanning buildings are in the works for 2020 thanks to state funding secured with the help of Senator Joe Pittman (41st District) and through the commitment of business owners willing to match their grant allocation, dollar for dollar.

“I am pleased to support and build upon the efforts by Representative Jeff Pyle and my predecessor Senator Don White in continuing this important economic development initiative,” said Senator Pittman. “The façade grant program gives property owners the financial assistance to be part of the ongoing renaissance that is well under way in the Borough of Kittanning. The new streetscapes, lighting and traffic patterns that we have seen in downtown are changing the face of Kittanning. They provide a more welcoming ambience for residents and visitors. This program gives businesses a real incentive to invest in a figurative and literal facelift for their properties. As we invest in Kittanning, the resulting benefits help the entire county.”

Armstrong County Department of Planning & Development assisted Kittanning Borough in applying for the $50,000 Keystone Communities Façade Grant. Appointed members of the Downtown Kittanning Façade Grant Committee developed guidelines and criteria to evaluate all eligible applicants.

Kittanning Borough Councilwoman Betsy Wilt, who is also a member of the Downtown Kittanning Façade Grant Committee, noted that the pursuit of grant funding has been an extension of the borough’s beautification efforts.

“Upon completion of the Market Street revitalization project, Kittanning Borough Council continued to work with the Armstrong County Planning & Development office in securing the Facade grant which will now help with some of the cost for businesses in the business district to upgrade the appearance of their storefronts,” she said. “The Borough looks forward to continuing its work with the Planning Office in order to apply for another Facade grant in the near future.”

Armstrong County Board of Commissioners’ Chairman acknowledged the collaboration of all parties involved.

“The board is grateful to Senator Pittman for his assistance in getting this grant, which will help expand on the ongoing revitalization efforts within the borough,” said Chairman Don Myers, of the Armstrong County Board of Commissioners.

Applications for four businesses have been approved, with a total of $35,000 in grant funds committed to improving the facades of Allegheny Real Estate Services, Keep Me In Stitches, Sprankle’s Neighborhood Market, and Hutchison’s Jewelers. Approval for several additional projects are pending.

Armstrong County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Jason Renshaw anticipates the grant will have a far-reaching impact on the community.

“The polish and shine this program gives to specific buildings will improve local pride and cast a positive light on the entire downtown,” he said.

The Armstrong County Department of Planning and Development is anticipating that a future Façade Grant application is likely, as staff have already received interest from candidates for projects that could not be included in the current grant round. Eligible projects include storefront façade; exterior restoration/painting; architectural elements and additions; awnings; exterior lighting; lighting signage; and signs.

“This funding can be a big help to a small budget, and it would be great to see more businesses and building owners take advantage of this opportunity,” said Armstrong County Commissioner Pat Fabian.

Those interested are asked to contact Autumn Vorpe-Seyler, Community Development Coordinator with the Department of Planning and Development, at 724-548-3725 or by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Hutchisons Building
The Hutchison’s Jewelers storefront, in 2017, presented with an aging façade and plywood on a storefront window. The building is one of several to receive Keystone Communities Facade Grant funds for improvements slated to begin this year.


The demolition of a vacant and deteriorated building in Rural Valley Borough marks the latest collaborative move by the county, the borough and the state to address blighted properties in Armstrong County.

The borough-owned building, located at the corner of Kime Road and West School Street, was the former Shannock Valley High School Administration Building.

In late November 2019, officials met in front of a structure that for so many local residents had been a reminder of by-gone school days. Over the years, the cost of possible rehabilitation of the building continued to increase. Evidence of vandalism was visible everywhere – from the shattered glass littering the interior floor to the spray-painted graffiti along the exterior walls.

State Senator Joe Pittman (41st District) who had discussed the building’s deteriorated state with Rural Valley’s Mayor Lou Bartosiewicz, noted:

“While tearing down buildings and the removal of blight is not always viewed as a positive, the reality is these buildings have no useful life and decrease the land value of neighboring properties. By removing these properties, it allows them to be returned to the tax rolls, making them attractive for purchase by neighboring land owners – which increases the overall property values of the community.”

Pat Fabian, Armstrong County Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, reiterated that sentiment as he discussed the demolition project with Mayor Bartosiewicz and with the Senator’s District Director Jeremy Dias.

“It needed to come down. Hopefully the property can get back on the tax rolls – it’s a nice lot,” Commissioner Fabian said. “This is a great example of why the blight program was created.”

While speaking about the project, Commissioner Jason Renshaw noted the importance of collaboration between county, state and local levels.

“Transforming communities, one blighted property at a time, becomes more possible when we all work together,” Commissioner Renshaw said.

Commissioner George Skamai agreed.

“We all want the same thing, to see revitalization in our neighborhoods and to live in a safe, thriving community,” Commissioner Skamai said.

Commissioner Fabian extended his thanks on behalf of the Board of Commissioners to Senator Pittman and his staff for assistance in securing grant funding for blight remediation. The project is being paid for through a combination of state grant funds and the county’s Act 152 demolition funds.


The Armstrong County Board of Commissioners is pleased to announce two projects have been selected for funding through the county’s 2019 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. Distribution of the county’s $265,842 allocation was determined using a comprehensive competitive ranking system.

“We’re glad we are able to support the municipalities of Ford City and Bradys Bend Township with these very critical infrastructure improvement projects,” said Armstrong County Board of Commissioners Chairman Pat Fabian.

The Ford City Borough 2019 Water Valve Replacement Project will utilize $71,651 in County 2019 CDBG funds and over $10,000 in local matching funds. The project is projected to cost $82,000.

The Bradys Bend Township Cove Run Road Reconstruction Project is expected to cost $161,340, utilizing $15,000 in local matching funds and $146,340 in 2019 County CDBG funds.

“The county uses CDBG funds to assist communities with a variety of projects, from road reconstruction to water line extensions to ADA upgrades of public facilities,” said Armstrong County Commissioner and Board Secretary George Skamai.

Between 2015 and 2018, more than $800,000 in County CDBG funds was allocated for projects in North Buffalo Township, Sagamore, Sugarcreek Township, South Bethlehem, Bradys Bend Township and West Kittanning.

This year, 13 municipalities, authorities and nonprofits submitted 20 proposals for the county’s 2019 fiscal funding year CDBG allocation. Although not all proposals were eligible or fundable under CDBG guidelines, county officials were pleased with the increased interest in the program.

The uptick in proposal submissions came about after the planning and development department ramped up its CDBG awareness campaign last spring, including print and social media outreach and a workshop. A 2020 CDBG proposal workshop is in the works for the spring.

“These projects can make a lasting impact on a community,” said Armstrong County Commissioner and Vice Chairman Jason Renshaw. “So, it’s important that we help municipalities become familiar with CDBG and other funding opportunities.”

Kittanning property ready for demolition under County's Blight Remediation plan
A vacant former duplex in Kittanning Borough, which is slated for demolition, is the latest project targeted by Armstrong County in its fight against blight.
The county has worked closely with the borough to identify problem properties. The demolition of 150 Diamond Way will be the third demolition in the county in recent weeks. Two similar projects were completed in Leechburg along Siberian Avenue.
State Sen. Don White (R-41st), who helped the county secure funding to assist in blight remediation efforts, commended Kittanning officials, the Armstrong Board of Commissioners and the Department of Planning and Development for working together to deal with problem properties.
Property ready for demolition
Local, county and state officials gather Friday, Jan. 18 in front of a blighted structure in Kittanning Borough before its scheduled demolition. From left: Kittanning Councilmen Joseph Kiehlmeier and Scott Davis; Armstrong County Commissioner Pat Fabian; State Sen. Don White; Armstrong County Commissioner Jason Renshaw; Armstrong County Commissioner George  Skamai.

Demolition of Blighted Leechburg Property
Demolition of Blighted Leechburg Property
Demolition of the blighted Leechburg property at 125-127 Siberian Avenue  got underway on Monday, Jan. 7 as part of an agreement between Leechburg Borough and the County of Armstrong’s blight remediation efforts.

Leechburg Blighted Property Demolished
Leechburg Blighted Property Demolished
Armstrong County’s blight remediation efforts have targeted two vacant properties along Siberian Avenue in Leechburg Borough.

A week before Christmas, number 137 was torn down by Baker Excavating & Contracting. The other structure – a former duplex at numbers 125-127 – has also been slated for demolition.

On Friday, Dec. 21, 2018 Armstrong County Commissioner Pat Fabian met with Leechburg Mayor Wayne Dobos at the demolition site. They were joined by the county’s Department of Planning and Development’s Executive Director Darin Alviano and Program Manager Brigid Beatty.

“It started with this guy,” Commissioner Fabian said, giving a nod toward the mayor. “He was the one who brought up the issue of blight and asked us what we could do about it.”

The issue of blight was raised in late 2016 during one of the Board of Commissioners’ regional town hall meetings by Mayor Dobos, who at that time was on Leechburg Council. The development of a Blight Remediation Plan followed. Two separate grants – a $100,000 Community Development Initiatives Program Grant and a $100,000 Keystone Community Program Grant – both from the Department of Community and Economic Development were obtained after discussions took place between county officials and State Sen. Don White (R-41st) about community revitalization.

 In July 2017 the county-appointed Blight Task Force recommended to the commissioners that some of the grant money be allocated to demolish three blighted properties. Those included the two properties on Siberian Avenue in Leechburg and one former duplex on Diamond Way in Kittanning.

In 2018 Leechburg Borough entered into an agreement with the county to acquire the two problem properties out of the county repository and to pay for the structures to be demolished. The county in turn will reimburse the borough for the cost of the demolitions using grant funds. Kittanning Borough has entered into a similar agreement with the county.

The remaining funds from the grant will go toward Land Bank activities. On Dec. 20, 2018 the Armstrong County Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance authorizing the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Armstrong (RACA) to act as a land bank. This will facilitate the return of vacant, abandoned, tax delinquent and blighted properties to productive use. It is one more tool the county can use to combat community deterioration, improve the quality of neighborhoods, foster economic growth and spur investments.

Market Street Revitalization Project

A Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony was held near the steps of the Armstrong County Courthouse on December 5, 2018 marking the completion of the Kittanning Market Street Revitalization Project.

The event drew a crowd of dignitaries, business representatives, members of the public and those who had been involved in the project.

State Sen. Don White (R-41st), who was instrumental in helping secure a substantial portion of grant funding for the project, praised the collaborative efforts of all the groups, agencies and individuals who had helped bring about Market Street’s transformation.

Joining him at the ribbon-cutting were the following: State Rep. Jeff Pyle (R-60th); Chairman Pat Fabian, Armstrong County Board of Commissioners; Vice-Chairman Jason Renshaw, Armstrong County Board of Commissioners; Secretary George Skamai, Armstrong County Board of Commissioners; Councilwoman Betsy Wilt, Kittanning Borough; Chairman Andy Bradigan, Kittanning Revitalization Committee; Assistant Director Carmen Johnson, Armstrong County Department of Planning  and Development; President Gordon Taylor, Senate Engineering Company; Project Engineer Phil Hermen, Senate Engineering Company; Bryan Kiskadden, M&B Services.

The scope of completed work has included sidewalk replacement with bump-outs for safer pedestrian crossing, landscaping, underground utility line relocation, new traffic signals/controllers, new mast arms/poles, new ADA ramps and crosswalks, converting McKean Street to 2-way traffic, and the installation of new light poles, benches, landscaping, flower baskets and trash receptacles. A standing clock, which was funded through a private donor, was erected near NexTier Bank and Citizens Bank.

The project also involved paving a portion of South Grant Avenue, the section of Jefferson Street from Arch to Mulberry, and the section of McKean Street from Arch to Jacob. There have also been ADA improvements to the walkways in the project area and improvements to the Jefferson Street Parking Lot and several alleys. In addition to the revitalization project, PENNDOT paved the entire length of Market Street. Grant funding was used to reconstruct Jacob Street, helped pave Mulberry Street, the McKean Street Parking Lot and a few alleys.

This project was paid for through a combination of funding streams that included a local share from Kittanning Borough; Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program Grant (RACP); Economic Development Initiative Grant through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development(PA DCED); The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT;  Multimodal Transportation Fund grant through the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA); Liquid Fuels funds provided by the Armstrong County Commissioners; Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative (PCTI); Smart Transportation Funding grant through the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission; The Armstrong County Industrial Development Council; Keystone Communities Program Grant; Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds; private donations from individuals and businesses including F & M Bank; and Rosebud Mining Company.

Public Input Used To Develop Regional Long-Range Transportation And Development Plan

Issues related to regional transportation and development plans were on the minds of Armstrong County residents and stakeholders who attended the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commissions’ (SPC) public meeting on Monday, Oct. 29 in the Armstrong County Commissioners’ Conference Room at the Annex Building in Kittanning.
More than 25 people attended the event to weigh in on current and future projects. The purpose of the meeting was to gather information and data to help SPC develop its long-range transportation plan.
SPC asked attendees for input on prioritizing strategies that would best address five “forces of change” that will have an impact on Armstrong County and the other nine counties of southwestern Pennsylvania over the next 25 years.
Forces of Change with significant potential effects on transportation and development have been identified in five broad categories: Demographics, Technology, Economy, Environment, and Funding.
During the interactive meeting, each attendee had the opportunity to pinpoint what they thought were priorities and growing trends for the region. One map focused on recreational trails, highlighting the movement toward a connection of a regional trail network.
A number of residents expressed their desire for improvements on Route 28 North from Kittanning to I-80, in addition to the continued improvements on Route 422 to Indiana.
 “The commissioners were very encouraged by the turnout for this meeting. We applaud and thank all those who attended,” said Commissioner Pat Fabian, who attended the meeting. “It is important that the needs and priorities of Armstrong county residents are being heard on a regional level.”
The SPC is developing a regional long-range plan and those strategies identified regionally as a priority will guide planning efforts now and into the future. SPC will be back out in the spring to present a draft of the Regional Long-Range Plan to county residents.

Armstrong Recycling Center
Armstrong Recycling Center No Longer Accepting Used Motor Oil
The Progressive Workshop of Armstrong County (PWAC) has announced that the Armstrong Recycling Center will no longer be accepting used motor oil.
Previously, used motor oil had been used to generate heat for the Recycling Center at its location at the Armsdale Complex in Rayburn Township.
“However, now there are no free alternatives for disposal of used oil,” said Matt Ardeno, PWAC vice president of production and sales. “The center cannot afford to accrue costs associated with its collection and therefore has no choice but to discontinue accepting it.”
Materials that continue to be accepted at the Armstrong Recycling Center include the following: Newspapers; office paper/magazines; corrugated cardboard; aluminum cans; steel cans; #1 and #2 plastic bottles and jugs; green, clear and brown glass bottles and jars.
For more information about the Armstrong County Recycling Program contact Jennifer Smith, Recycling Coordinator, at 724-543-2599 ext. 221 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Kittanning Borough Seeks Grant for Façade Upgrades in Kittanning
Kittanning Borough is once again applying for a Keystone Communities Façade Grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development 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 storefront façade would be $5,000 and must be matched dollar for dollar by the business owner/building owner. A side or corner of a commercial building bordering a public lot or street will also be considered for exterior improvements, up to $5,000.

Armstrong County Department of Planning & Development will be assisting Kittanning Borough with the application.

“Updating the facades of local businesses will complement the revitalization efforts within the Borough.  We are hopeful that DCED will look favorably upon our grant application and award the façade grant to the Borough,” said Carmen Johnson, Interim Executive Director of the Armstrong County Department of Planning and Development.

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 2019.

Those interested are asked to contact Carmen E. Johnson, Interim Executive Director with the Department of Planning and Development, at 724-548-3721 or by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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

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.

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

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

 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

 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

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