Baker plans to retire from Blairsville post |

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BLAIRSVILLE — “I’ve been going to work every day for 50 years. And now it’s time to say enough is enough.

Blairsville Borough Superintendent Michael Baker announced on Tuesday night that he will retire on December 23 after almost a year and a half as Borough Superintendent and Blairsville Municipal Authority Director. His tenure in public service includes decades of service with the Indiana County Coroner’s Office, nearly six years on the Indiana County Board of Commissioners, and a year and a half as Township Manager of North Fayette Township in Allegheny County.

“I’m retiring,” Baker told a handful of borough residents as council concluded a closed executive session to discuss their decision. “It’s my hometown and I want my career to end where it started.”

Board Chairman John Bertolino and Board Members Jeff Marshall, Robert Startari and Kaitlyn Sagely unanimously accepted Baker’s resignation with regret, then voted to place help-seeking ads to find someone to replace him.

“There are challenges in the public service no matter what you do. I really, really love this job and I love what I do. And I want to retire from this job while I still love it,” Baker said. “I never want to have to get up in the morning and say, ‘I don’t want to go. “”

Baker took over as Lead Administrator of Blairsville on July 1, 2021, following the resignation of Tim Evans, who also served in the dual executive role.

In other cases Tuesday evening:

• Council agreed to rezone a section of former Route 22 from low-density residential to light industrial to accommodate the relocation of R&D Auto, an auto repair shop, from Route 119 near Josephine.

Changing the zoning is a step to allow Ben Rees to relocate his business. The council’s second step was to approve “body shop” as a special exception in a light industrial zone, while giving borough officials a say in how the business operates and looks.

Neighbors questioned the council and Rees about the planned operation during the hearing. Although they were generally supportive of the idea of ​​a new venture, they worried about whether there would be loud noise at night, whether their tax bills would rise, and whether wrecked cars would be parked in front of the road.

“We don’t want a dump,” said one.

“We will protect your property,” Baker told residents. “If you visit the place they have right now, you won’t find any of the adverse conditions you’re worried about.”

“We can impose constraints from the point of view of … making sure that adjacent owners don’t have visibility on cars that are in poor condition,” Bertolino said. “Also, since people are coming into town, it’s a main entrance to town and we don’t want to see bad cars sitting there.”

Bertolino assured residents that the change would not affect property assessment and taxes.

The company’s business plan calls for Ben Rees’ mother, Nancy Rees, to own the building and lease it to her son for the repair shop. Ben Rees said ‘best case scenario’ the property would be cleared of vegetation from this weekend, and an 80ft by 60ft building would be up and ready to open in four or five months. .

• Council agreed to announce the borough’s draft 2023 budget for public review and comment before voting on its adoption in December.

It’s a flat budget with strong, ongoing revenue, some spending increases that will be covered by current revenue, and no increases in tax rates are needed, Baker told the council.

The borough and the municipality would each pay $12,000 for a new computer network server for the borough building. There’s a small increase in money budgeted to retain attorney Patrick Dougherty as an attorney — even though the borough spent less than the 2022 budgeted amount, Baker said.

The borough also listed $60,000 for the first installment of a loan to the Young Men’s Volunteer Fire Company to purchase a new brush truck, a figure that could be covered by a pending grant from the U.S. Department. of Agriculture.

The spending plan lists approximately $2.187 million in expenses and revenue. Spending will increase by $72,000 from 2022.

• Baker also told council that Lindy Paving has agreed to resurface three streets where it patchworked restoration following utility work earlier this year.

Peoples Natural Gas engaged Lindy to rehabilitate areas where the company dug and replaced its main lines and service spur lines on South Stewart Street, East Brown Street and South East Lane. “All of these streets have been cut off and the restoration…has not been to the satisfaction of the borough,” Baker said. “This morning I met their reps on site and they said they were going to come and mill them in the spring and pave them from sidewalk to sidewalk.”

• Director of the Blairsville Community Development Association, Linda Gwinn, indicated that the evening of community lighting, including a parade, the lighting of a Christmas tree and the arrival of Santa Claus, is scheduled for December 5.

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