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North News Briefs

Wednesday, July 16, 2003


The school board Monday voted unanimously to eliminate the community service graduation requirement for graduating seniors.

Members were concerned the requirement made graduation more difficult for some at-risk students.

Board member Lynn McGrath said in an interview that the board may study giving students extra credit for community service work.

At least 10 school administration officials have voluntarily agreed to accept new, less expensive health care packages, each saving the district $1,200 a year, the board was told Monday.

"Instead of complaining about the healthcare problem, the administration found there is something you can do about it and found less expensive coverage," board member Jack Connors said after the meeting.


The commissioners on Monday approved conditional use and site plans for a proposed car wash on McKnight Road, pending final clearance from the state Department of Transportation.

The car wash is planned for property adjacent to the Steel City Junction Bar and Grill, formerly Huckles. Plans call for an automatic two-bay car wash and a detail shop, run by Pittsburgh Detail, which is based on Perry Highway. The car wash would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Owner Mark Pelly hopes to get a temporary permit from PennDOT to begin grading and construction as soon as possible.

A resolution in the ongoing battle over the Beverly Hills Hotel could come before Labor Day, township Solicitor Donald Gates said.

The township has been unsuccessfully trying to get the vacant Beverly Hills Hotel cleaned up since 1990. A fire 28 years ago damaged the former supper club and theater located between Evergreen Road and Babcock Boulevard.


John Schonder has been named to the township Planning Commission to replace retiring member Bob Anderson.

Schonder, who is retired from Ross and Schonder Architects, was involved in the construction of the township library, municipal building, public works garage and police station. He will serve a four-year term.


A borough council member came under fire at Monday night's council meeting after he made racial remarks during the meeting.

Leo Rudzki, who was named to council earlier this year following the death of member Frank Buccieri, made the remarks during discussions about rental property in Sharpsburg.

In discussing a building permit, Rudzki said that a particular building used to house black tenants. "There were black people there. You couldn't see the coal dust on their faces."

When an audience member objected to his comment, Rudzki replied, "They were happy I gave them jobs." Council President Richard Panza apologized for Rudzki's remarks but did not reprimand him.

Later in the meeting, in a separate discussion about rental properties, Rudzki said about an apartment, "There were seven Vietnamese people there." He also complained about "people who move from Lawrenceville into Sharpsburg and think they're still in Lawrenceville."

Mario Ferraro, who won the Democratic May primary to become a council candidate in November, reacted to Rudzki's remarks during the public comment period.

"I don't want to hear that nonsense," he said. "Tonight we witnessed something ugly. I don't think anyone should be labeled by his race. When you're up there [on council], you have an image to uphold." Ferraro said it was not necessary to use race to describe people.

Rudzki defended himself. "What would I call those Vietnamese people?" he asked. "I have black friends that do work for me and I appreciate everything they do. I have more black friends than you have," he told Ferraro.

Rudzki will complete his council term at the end of the year. In the May primary, Rudzki failed to win enough votes to be on the ballot in November.

Council approved the transfer of an alcoholic beverage license to allow the opening of Jocko's Iron Gate Inc., a restaurant that would serve alcoholic drinks.

The new license will become the 18th active liquor license in the borough, said Police Capt. Leo Rudzki, whose father is a council member. Rudzki said that in 1975, when he joined the Sharpsburg police, the borough had 27 active licenses.

Mary Emery-Williams, a member of the Sharpsburg's Citizens Coalition, said the borough still has 23 licenses. Rudzki said it is possible that there are six inactive licenses in addition to the 17 currently in use.

Emery-Williams opposed the liquor license transfer, saying the borough of 3,600 residents already has too many establishments that serve alcohol.

"I would ask that you consider the general state of the town," she told council members.

Council President Richard Panza said he was not concerned about the license because it is for a restaurant, not a bar.

Seven Fields

Borough council has cleared the way for Youngstown developer Thomas Petraca to build a 66,000-square-foot shopping center that would double as a community park and picnic area.

The center would be on 9.5 acres along Route 228 and Seven Fields Boulevard.

Council on Monday voted to modify a building ordinance to allow no single edifice in the borough to exceed 90 square feet, council President Jack Maurer said. Some council members had feared that the square footage of Petraca's project could expand, he said.

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