Latrobe council hires new police officer Zachary Lukon

Zachary Lukon, Latrobe’s newest police officer, is sworn in by Magisterial District Judge Michael Mahady at Latrobe City Council’s regular meeting Monday night.

Latrobe City Council welcomed the city’s newest police officer Monday night, Zachary Lukon.

Lukon will fill the position vacated by Officer Raymond Swiderski, who is moving to a new post as the school resource officer (SRO) for Adelphoi’s Dr. Robert Ketterer Charter School.

Latrobe Police Chief John Sleasman previously said that Lukon is “a good kid” who is highly qualified for the position.

Lukon, who graduated from Derry Area High School in 2002, St. Vincent College in 2007 and the Westmoreland Municipal Police Officers’ Training Academy in 2017, previously served as a part-time officer in Derry Borough and worked a full-time position at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).

He also attended the U.S. Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, and served as a K-9 officer for the Border Patrol from 2008 to 2013.

“He has a lot of great qualifications,” Latrobe City Manager Michael Gray told council last month.

Meanwhile, Sleasman again noted that Latrobe Police Sgt. Robert Rummell is slated to leave the department in December, and so he’s hoping to have a replacement lined up and ready to step in right away — meaning the city will be looking for another new officer.

The chief previously said he’s in the process of working with the city’s administration to look into possibly updating the civil service regulations and guidelines used for testing for new officers. Lukon was the last candidate remaining on the previous list of qualified applicants put together by the Latrobe Civil Service Commission, so the city likely will be looking to create a new list soon to help with the search for Rummell’s replacement.

In other business Monday night, council approved the following items:

• An agreement between the city and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) AFL-CIO, Council 83 Local 629, with a new contract for 15 city employees working in the public works and clerical departments. Gray said the agreement includes a 3% raise for each of the 15 employees, adds President’s Day as a paid holiday, and increases the contributions they must make toward their health care insurance coverage;

• An ordinance amending Chapter 262 of the city code, dealing with fire pits and small recreational fires, which sets the procedures for residents to re-apply for one of the city’s five-year fire pit permits and lays out a $50 fine for violations, which must be paid within five days and which can be appealed through council. Three consecutive violations also gives the city the right to terminate the connected permit;

• Making the east side of the 1000 block of Alexandria Street permit parking only;

• An ordinance amending Chapter 327 of the city code concerning street excavations;

• Ratifying council’s verbal decision last month to award a contract for repaving two alleys in downtown Latrobe in order to address stormwater concerns;

• Accepting the resignation of Donald Albert from the Latrobe Civil Service Commission and the Latrobe Planning Commission, and appointing alternate Dr. Steven Selip to replace Albert on the civil service commission;

• A confirmation of the city’s intent to disclaim any right it has to a piece of property on Josephine Street which was inadvertently made a part of the public right-of-way many years ago. The tiny sliver of land is now a part of a private property, as was originally intended.

In other business:

• Council voted to table a proposal to appoint Karen Meholic as assistant city secretary shortly after holding a brief executive session to discuss personnel matters. Councilman James Kelley said there are “questions he’d like to further discuss” regarding the matter before any decision is made;

• Gray said that there have been multiple complaints recently related to the use of drones in the city which reportedly are invading people’s privacy and flying too close to homes. He said the state enacted a law last year which lays down ground rules for drones and that if any resident notices a violation, they should report it to the police;

• Latrobe Fire Chief John Brasile reminded residents that if they notice any violations of the city’s fire pit ordinance, they should call 911 to report them so that there is a proper record of the incident and so the fire department has the authority to investigate;

• Council briefly discussed numerous recent complaints regarding fireworks being set off in the city at extremely late hours at night, and indicated that it would look into what provisions the city code has for controlling noise and public nuisances;

• Gray reported that on Monday, Aug. 26, a contractor will begin repair work on the downtown parking garage, which will take six weeks to complete. During this time, there will be some temporary traffic restrictions in the garage, but it will remain open and in operation for the duration of the project;

• The city will be seeking bids for repairs to a water line break on Pine Street after it sprung up during recently completed paving work on Pine and Josephine streets, Gray said;

• Council recognized the members of the 4th of July Celebration Committee, including Carol and Gary Greenawalt, who are retiring, as well as the members of the Great American Banana Split Celebration Committee.

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