Looking back at first half of 2022, what happened?
We bring you the year in review, a look back at the past 12 months in news coverage. This year has seen the first real return to normalcy in community engagement with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic receding and the widespread availability of a vaccine for the disease.
Locally, our region participated in an election that garnered national attention. Residents suffered through shortages of materials and higher costs for goods, including baby formula. Leadership in our boroughs and townships changed and localities decided how to spend COVID-19 relief money.
This year was one of transition for us.
Our Editor, Jamie Wiggan, left us to pursue opportunities at Pittsburgh City Paper, we won an award for outstanding local news coverage and gave up our physical office to work from home.
In the coming year, we look forward to continuing our coverage of what matters most to you.
On Jan. 6, 2022, the Gazette 2.0 reported on records detailing a chemical leak at a plant on Neville Island showed surrounding residents were exposed to thousands of pounds of irritants, toxicants and carcinogens.
The Neville Chemical plant released nearly 25,000 pounds of chemical emissions during a two-hour period on the morning of Sept. 2, 2021.
These included five compounds known to pose cancer risks to humans or animals and multiple others that bring on headaches, dizziness, itching and coughing when inhaled in small quantities. Almost all the chemicals identified could cause organ damage with prolonged or concentrated exposures.
The biggest single contributor listed – dicyclopentadiene – is designated hazardous by the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals and can cause damage to the central nervous system, kidneys and liver in large or prolonged doses. Nearly 10,000 pounds were released during the September leak.
Parilla retains seat
Robin Parrilla retained his position as Stowe commissioners president despite objections to his personal record voiced by several residents due to the fact that Parilla owed more than $30,000 in unpaid property taxes.
On Jan. 11, Mayor David Flick was sworn in as the new mayor of McKees Rocks. His predecessor, Jack Muhr, had been in the office for 20 years. On the same day, Former councilwoman Coletta Perry was sworn in as newly-elected mayor of Crafton. Former mayor Jim Bloom served for 12 years.
On Jan. 11, the Stowe Board of Commissioners approved the resignation of ordinance officer Harry Seretti, who had been on the job for seven years. According to Seretti, an increase in criminal activity elevated his working stress levels and introduced concerns for his safety.
Stowe Township hired University of Pittsburgh graduate Nick Leffakis as its next enforcement officer. Leffakis previously worked at Etna and has a master's degree in public policy. He began working at Stowe on March 21. Leffakis stepped down in July, citing interference from “over-involvement” in his job by Commissioner Kelly Cropper Hall. Leffakis said Cropper Hall did not trust his assessment regarding certain properties and insisted there was a violation when he didn’t find evidence of a problem. He also said Cropper Hall wanted to go with him to a property, which was highly unusual. Cropper Hall declined to comment on the matter.
The township’s latest ordinance officer, Edward Snyder, is a resident of Beechview who graduated from Propel Montour High School in 2021. Previously he worked for the township as a police dispatcher and a Stowe volunteer firefighter beside his brother, Richard Stewart.
In August, Stowe Secretary Dwight Boddorf resigned, citing the need to be closer to family.
On Aug.10, Roberta Farls was appointed to the position at a salary of $65,000 and was approved as the official Right to Know Officer. Farls had initially been hired as the Stowe Police Secretary in June.
The latest redistricting plan shifted House District 45, occupied by State Rep. Anita Kulik primarily south and west, dropping Kilbuck, Ben Avon and Emsworth north of the Ohio River and adding McKees Rocks, Collier, and Bridgeville. Carnegie was also cut. The district maintains Stowe, Kennedy, Robinson and Coraopolis.
District 27 shifted in a similar direction, as it’s pushed south and west by the expansion of District 19 into Pittsburgh’s westernmost neighborhoods. Accordingly, Esplen, Sheraden and several other city wards were cut, while suburban communities, Rosslyn Farms, Carnegie and Scott Township were absorbed.
The redistricted senate map shifted District 42 which is represented by State Sen. Wayne Fontana dropped Coraopolis while expanding into Pittsburgh’s South Hills. The district maintains McKees Rocks, Stowe, Kennedy, Crafton, Ingram and the majority of Pittsburgh’s westside neighborhoods.
District 37 added Coraopolis while maintaining Robinson, Moon, Thornburg, Pennsbury Village and other communities stretching south of Pittsburgh into Washington County.
The Crafton Council saw several new members. Senior councilperson John Oliverio was voted in as president, while newcomer Kirsten Compitello was selected as vice president. At the first official meeting on Jan. 13, new board members Vincent Ridilla, Erin Bollenbacher and Justin Marks debuted as a cohesive unit, having campaigned together under the “Crafton Forward” committee.
During a Jan. 27 voting meeting, the Sto-Rox School board appointed Interim Superintendent Joseph Dimperio to oversee the search process for a new superintendent in return for a one-time $3,000 stipend.
Dimperio joined the district in November 2021 to fill in for outgoing Superintendent Frank Dalmas.
Megan Van Fossan, formerly of the Slippery Rock Area School District, joined Sto-Rox as assistant to the superintendent at an annual salary of $99,500. She was ultimately appointed as superintendent in May.