Woman settles old theft case with guilty plea

HERMITAGE — A Hermitage woman has pleaded guilty in a 2è-year-old embezzlement case and was sentenced to pay restitution.

Sally R. Scopak, 64, of 3651 Sample Road, was charged with two counts of theft for stealing $21,334 from Bittler Construction, West Middlesex.

She was hired to do bookkeeping and taxes for the company, when company officials learned taxes were not being paid, police said.

Police alleged she diverted checks that had been made out for taxes into her own account 56 times between March 4 and Nov. 25, 2003.

Company checks to the tax account had to be co-signed by her, said police, who filed charges on June 2, 2004..

Ms. Scopak pleaded guilty Dec. 6 to one count of theft, and the second count was withdrawn. She was sentenced at the same time by Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas R. Dobson to pay back the money that day, which she did.

Property taxes going up 20 percent in 2007

SOUTH PYMATUNING TOWNSHIP — Supervisors Tuesday approved a final 2007 budget of $1.132 million that includes a 20 percent tax hike for property owners in South Pymatuning Township.

Real estate taxes will be 6.575 mills, which is a 1.5-mill increase over this year’s tax rate.

The budget puts 6.05 mills toward the general budget and 0.525 mill is for fire protection as it was in 2006.

A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s assessed 1970 value.

The spending plan is about $100,000 more than this year’s, with utility costs and health care as major areas of increase.

In a story published Nov. 15, The Herald gave an incorrect total amount for the proposed budget.

Authority will stop taking names for vouchers

MERCER COUNTY — The Mercer County Housing Authority will no longer add names to a waiting list for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers.

The authority board voted Wednesday to close the waiting list effective Jan. 1 because there isn’t enough money to fund as many vouchers as there has been, Authority Executive Director L. DeWitt Boosel said.

About $1 million is spent annually on the program, which is federally funded.

There are 325 leased rental units through the program, which reimburses private landlords for accepting enrolled low-income tenants, and that number will go down by 10 or 15, Boosel said.

There are 225 families on the waiting list and the average wait to get vouchers and housing is about two years.

“We feel uncomfortable taking names when we can’t help them for such a long time,” said Boosel.

The public will be notified when the list reopens.

Leases ready for new senior apartments

MERCER COUNTY — The leasing process is under way at Carol S. Gurrera Village in Hermitage.

Occupancy permits have been issued for 30 of the senior apartments and the last 10 are expected to be delivered this week, Mercer County Housing Authority Executive Director L. DeWitt Boosel told the board Wednesday.

Of the 40 Mercer County Housing Authority units at Lamor and Keel Ridge roads, 14 have been rented, said Boosel.

Boosel said he expects two more apartments to be rented within a week and four more are scheduled for the Section 8 voucher program.

Excess Centennial Place grant going to trust fund

MERCER COUNTY — The Mercer County Housing Authority is setting up a trust through the Community Foundation of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania to keep the funds left from the federal Hope IV grant received in 2000 to build Centennial Place in Farrell.

The $467,000 remaining will be used to fund support services for residents, Authority Executive Director L. DeWitt Boosel told the board Wednesday.

Those include all activities that promote “upward mobility, self-sufficiency and improved quality of life,” such as literacy and job training, day care, transportation and economic development. Salaries for case managers and programs are covered by those funds, Boosel said.

The money will be spent through 2009, said Boosel, and Centennial Place will annually submit a spending plan to the authority board.

The plan is subject to Housing and Urban Development approval.

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