The City of Latrobe has found its next public works director.
City officials have selected Scott Wajdic for the job, according to Latrobe City Manager John Antinori.
He said he didn’t have any additional information about Wajdic or his past work experience on hand, but will provide it later.
Wajdic reportedly will start his new position very soon, but Antinori could not confirm an exact date yet.
He will be replacing former Latrobe public works director and city manager Michael Gray, who recently resigned from both positions for personal reasons while the city was in the middle of seeking a new public works director so that Gray could focus his attention on his duties as city manager full-time.
Meanwhile, in Latrobe Police Department news, council voted unanimously to hire Matthew DeChicchis, who previously worked as an officer in Johnstown, as the city’s newest police officer. He will begin work in Latrobe on Dec. 26, according to Latrobe Police Chief John Sleasman.
“He came out heads and tails above everyone else,” Sleasman said of DeChicchis’ performance in the civil service commission testing process.
Council likewise unanimously approved the promotion of K-9 Officer Robert Derk to sergeant. Sleasman said Derk was the top scorer in the civil service commission testing process out of four officers from within the department who applied for the promotion.
“Officer Derk has proven himself on many occasions,” Sleasman said, noting that Derk has served in the department for more than 20 years.
Several police officers were honored publicly Monday night with proclamations praising their recent work on the job:
• Det. Michael Wigand was commended for his actions while responding to an overdose call involving an unresponsive male on July 23, for whom he administered two doses of Narcan.
• School Resource Officer Robert Daerr was commended for his actions while responding to an overdose call involving an unresponsive female on Aug. 23, for whom he administered two doses of Narcan.
• Officer Matthew Reeves and Derk were commended for their actions while responding to an armed robbery call on Aug. 1. A female reported her 14-year-old son was robbed at knifepoint, and Reeves and Derk conducted an investigation and found and arrested the suspect in the case.
Other items approved by council Monday include:
• The $5.9-million 2020 draft budget and accompanying ordinances establishing next year’s tax rates — which will remain the same — as well as wages, hours and fringe benefits for certain employees not covered under the city’s collective bargaining agreement.
• The resolution of a tax assessment appeal filed by Robindale Energy Services for the former Latrobe Elementary School property on Ligonier Street, which now houses Robindale’s offices. The building was assessed at a value of $10 million back in the early 1970s, but a recent appraisal found that its actual value today is approximately $4 million. City officials said they are not yet sure what kind of additional tax revenues Latrobe will receive from the formerly non-taxable property coming back onto the tax rolls, but noted that since the property is valued at $4 million, the revenues should be significant.
• An agreement with West Penn Power accepting ownership of the electrical lines that run under city streets and service the new lamppost-style street lights around town. The loops that service those lights are now connected to city meters.
• A payroll processing agreement; participation in the PA Invest Program; amendments to Chapter 256 of the city code in accordance with parking updates approved throughout the year, and council’s meeting schedule for next year.
In other business:
• Megan Kellerman, 17, daughter of Latrobe Police Community Service Officer Beth Kellerman and a senior at Greater Latrobe Senior High School, was honored with council’s fall 2019 Student Showcase award. Megan, who has helped her mother with organizing the annual National Night Out celebration in Latrobe for years, said she currently is in the process of applying to colleges and hopes to move away to attend school, likely to study science, possibly pediatrics.
• The city’s newest public works truck is set to be delivered on Friday, according to Antinori.
• Antinori said council is slated to consider an easement agreement with Westmoreland County next month related to the county’s plan to eventually rehabilitate the Highland Brewery Bridge, located on Ligonier Street near City Brewing Co.’s Latrobe brewery.
• Amtrak has provided the city with a proposed plan for work on the Latrobe train station, asking Latrobe to offer feedback within 30 days.
• Dr. Steven Selip of Latrobe recently helped secure a $2,000 grant for the Latrobe Police Department through the Westmoreland County Drug & Alcohol Commission.