The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

February 4, 2014

News briefs from Feb. 4, 2014

Herald staff

- — JC Penney pays woman who fell on escalator

HERMITAGE – JC Penney Co. and a Greenville woman have settled a lawsuit she filed after she fell on the escalator at the company’s Hermitage store.

Darlene Ours, 66 S. Second St., was 65 when the escalator jerked on Jan. 16, 2011, causing her to fall backward and suffer bruises, abrasions and cuts, particularly on her calves.

JC Penney denied liability but agreed to a $6,000 payment to settle the case.

She filed notice of the lawsuit Dec. 27, 2012.

School hopes to save money shutting off a/c

HERMITAGE – Hermitage School Board last week approved  participating in an energy-saving program that should save the district a few thousand dollars by occasionally shutting down the air conditioning system.

The board approved a five-year contract with EnerNOC Inc., an electricity buyer.

EnerNOC will ask district officials to occasionally shut down their a/c units to lessen demand during periods of high use, especially in the summer, said district Business Manager Monique Barber.

The district can say no without penalty, but there are financial incentives to say yes, she said.

Most of the times, the shutdowns would occur when the district’s buildings are not in use or in minimal use, for periods of four to six hours at a time, she said.

Officials said it takes a while for the buildings to cool down and it would not stress the a/c when they are turned back on again.

The district could save $9,000 during the 2014-15 school year, and $22,000 the following year, she said.

Police arrest two people in illegally parked car

FARRELL – Police investigating an illegally parked car arrested the driver for a gun offense and a passenger on drugs charges.

Southwest Mercer County Regional police said they were alerted by Sharon police to the car at 11:36 p.m. Sunday in the 900 block of Beechwood Avenue, Farrell.

Passenger Lynette R. Keller, 21, of 1019 Broadway Ave., Masury, was arrested on warrants from Hermitage police for underage drinking and from Sharon police, police said. Police said they found three Vicodin pills on her and a scale in her purse and charged her with possessing Vicodin without a prescription and possessing drug paraphernalia.

Driver Travis J. Womer, 23, of 557 S. Irvine Ave., Sharon, was charged with carrying a firearm without a license for having an unloaded .380-caliber pistol in the dash compartment and a loaded magazine and holster in his coat pocket, police said.

He also was cited for the parking violation, police said.

Keller and Womer were taken to jail for failing to post bond, and they face preliminary hearings at 2:45 p.m. Feb. 18 before District Judge Ronald E. Antos, Farrell.

Man charged with pulling gun on 16-year-old boy

FARRELL – A Farrell man has been charged with aggravated assault for pulling a gun on a 16-year-old boy and telling him “If I see your cousin I will shoot him,” Southwest Mercer County Regional police said.

Police said they were called at 6:19 p.m. Wednesday with a report that Jerel M. Norman, 18, of 1115 Bond St., had pulled a gun on the boy at Beechwood Avenue and Washington Street, police said.

Norman was seen walking down the middle of Beechwood and ran after police called out to him, police said.

Norman struggled with police attempting to arrest him, police said.

Once Norman was handcuffed, police said they found a loaded .32-caliber pistol in his coat pocket.

Police also charged Norman with possessing a firearm with the serial number scratched off, carrying a firearm without a license, terroristic threats, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief and walking down the middle of a street.

Norman was taken to Mercer County Jail for failing to post bond. He faces a preliminary hearing at 1:15 p.m. Feb. 13 before District Judge Ronald E. Antos, Farrell.

Man charged with being driver in plaza robbery

HERMITAGE – A Greenville man has been charged with helping another getaway after a purse snatching and then using a bank card stolen in the theft at four establishments, Hermitage police said.

Clifford R. Zuschlag, 37, of 32 Lancaster Ave., was arrested Monday on charges of robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, forgery, theft, access device fraud and identity theft.

A man grabbed a purse off a woman’s shoulder at 2:14 p.m. Jan. 11 in the parking lot of Hermitage Towne Plaza in the 2200 block of East State Street, police said.

The man got into a sport-utility vehicle on the other side of the plaza that Zuschlag was driving, police said.

The woman’s purse was found, but it was missing a wallet that contained $80 to $100, the victim’s driver’s license and debit and credit cards, police said.

Zuschlag used a bank card from the wallet to buy a television, cigarettes, gasoline and a car wash, total value $324, at Greenville and Hempfield Township businesses later in the day, police said.

Zuschlag claimed a 17-year-old boy asked him for a ride to the movies and ran to the SUV telling Zuschlag to step on it because he had gotten into a fight, police said.

Zuschlag admitted using a card given to him by the boy to make some of the purchases, police said.

Zuschlag was taken to Mercer County Jail for failing to post bond and faces a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. Feb. 18 before District judge Ronald E. Antos, Farrell.

Planners recommend park project be approved

HERMITAGE – Hermitage Planning Commission has recommended approval of a land development plan for the city to add parking, a playground and more trails to the athletic complex on South Darby Road.

The complex has two softball fields, a multipurpose field used primarily for football and soccer, a concession and restroom building, trails and a parking lot for about 140 vehicles.

The project would add a 91-space parking lot along South Darby; a trail from the new lot to existing trails; a trail around the west softball field; a tot lot next to the concession-restroom building; and a viewing area along the trail overlooking the west field.

Because of the slope in terrain from the trail down to the west field, people like to bring chairs and watch games from the top of the hill, said City Director of Planning and Development Marcia A. Hirschmann.

“We’re going to provide an area specifically for that,” she said.

Parking has been a problem, especially when there are games at both fields, and some people have taken to parking on grassy areas, officials have said.

City commissioners will act on the plan later in the month. Last month, they approved advertising for bids.

Officials estimate the project will cost $350,000, with $100,000 coming from a state grant.

City sets zoning hearing for billboard applications

HERMITAGE – Hermitage Zoning Hearing Board will hold a hearing March 5 on a Westmoreland County firm’s request to erect seven billboards in Hermitage commercial zone, an area in which such advertising signs are forbidden.

Mercer Outdoor Advertising has filed an appeal of seven applications rejected by the city to put up billboards along North and South Hermitage Road and East State Street, and challenges the constitutionality of the ordinance.

The company also wants the billboards to be larger than the ordinance allows.

Mercer filed a lawsuit in federal court, but a judge dismissed it, saying the company needed to get a ruling from the zoning board first.

“The city will be making a defense that it is proper, the denial of the applications,” City Director of Planning and Development Marcia A. Hirschmann told the Hermitage Planning Commission Monday.

Officials also will argue that the ordinance is proper, she said.

Mercer had argued the ordinance violates the federal and state constitutions in that it regulates speech and has so many restrictions that it is a “defacto ban” on billboards.

The city allows billboards in industrial zones as a conditional use, meaning they must be approved by the city commissioners after a review by the planning commission.

“Once the zoning hearing board renders its decision, it is expected that appeals to higher courts will follow,” Hirschmann said.

The federal judge said Mercer could refile its lawsuit after it receives a decision from the zoning board.