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New Ken Man Killed Near the Villa

Fire crews discuss the wreckage of this 2007 Hyundai Elantra following an early morning crash near the Villa Restaurant in North Buffalo Township. (courtesy of

Ronnie Heuston was killed early Sunday morning in an automobile accident. (Facebook photo)

A New Kensington man was killed early Sunday morning just 150 yards past the Villa Restaurant in North Buffalo Township.

The crash occurred at approximately 1:25 AM when 25-year-old Ronald C. Heuston was traveling south on Ford City Road and lost control of his 2007 Hyundai Elantra.

The vehicle went off the roadway, hitting a rock barrier, traveling into a telephone pole and trees before coming to a stop approximately 100 yards from where the vehicle first left the roadway.

Heuston was pronounced dead at the scene by Coroner Brian K. Myers.  According to the Coroner’s report, Heuston was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

Myers said an autopsy will not be performed and ruled the cause of death as Blunt Force Trauma to the Head and Thorax.  Toxicology results are pending.  Myers said he believed speed and alcohol are both to be factors in this crash.

The investigation is ongoing by the Pennsylvania State Police in Kittanning.

The coroner’s office was assisted at the scene by local fire departments included Ford Cliff and Ford City, the North Buffalo Township Police, and the Ford City Ambulance Service.

Funeral arrangements has been entrusted to Kennedy & Blodgett Funeral Home and appear in today’s edition of the Kittanning Paper.


More Ford City Tax Changes Proposed

A trio of Ford City Borough Council members entertained the proposal to cut taxes for the Fire Fund – which is primarily used to make payments for the 2011 Pierce engine. (KP File Photo)

by Jonathan Weaver

Ford City Borough council members are proposing additional taxpayer and business savings in addition to the already-tentative three-quarters of a mill tax decrease.

During a budget workshop Friday morning, Council President Kathy Bartuccio, Vice-President Jerry Miklos and Councilwoman Beth Bowser discussed ways to save taxpayers more money.

Miklos said that is the top priority.

“I think it’s about time we give something back to the taxpayers – for too long, they have played sucker and it’s been far too easy for past Council’s to stick their hand in taxpayers’ pocket and pull out whatever it is they need(ed),” Miklos said.

In his proposal, Miklos aimed to save residents an additional mill of taxes by reducing the 2.6-mill Fire Tax to .6 mills.

The other mill of taxes would be earmarked for a newly-formed reserve fund.

“We have been talking all year about creating a reserve fund – I’ve been a strong advocate for creating a reserve fund for years and it never came to fruition,” Miklos said. “I would like to see a reserve fund established, and that can begin with as little as one mill per year.”

Residents currently pay 2.6 mills annually – or about $70,000 – to help offset costs for the fire truck as well as other miscellaneous expenses, but the proposal would cause that profit to drop to about $15,000.

The tax doubled after the Borough purchased a 2011 Pierce Velocity 2000 GPM Engine in December 2010.

About $108,000 is currently available in the Fire Fund. With principal and interest payments, the fire truck costs about $45,000 per year.

Bowser agreed with reallocating tax millage into a reserve fund, but wanted to see more all the fire department expenses before making a decision on the remaining tax commitment.

Firefighters and Borough Council agreed in January 2013 when the budget was reopened to take half a mill less that year to help pay street lighting expenditures. However, that was only a one-time cut since truck payments could not be financed otherwise.

Under the current payment structure, The Borough would continue paying off the fire truck for about the next nine years.

The trio of elected officials also heard the proposal calling for the elimination of the Business Privilege Tax.

All businesses currently are billed $150 annually. If business owners pay the fee by the end of January, the fee is reduced to $135, but if they don’t pay at all, penalties accrue over time.

Miklos and Bowser agreed with the proposal, but also said there needs to be more enforcement against businesses that have overdue payments.

“We should make a concerted effort to collect all back-due Business Privilege Taxes,” Miklos said. “It’s not fair to the people who are paying it every year.”

Miklos said Ford City Borough receives about $17,000 from the Business Privilege Tax, and that eliminating the tax might encourage more businesses to open.

A mill equals about $27,000, but has been decreasing due to population. In last month’s advertised 2016 budget, residents would pay 16.65 mills in local taxes – 11 toward the General Fund, 2.6 for fire apparatus,1.9 toward street lighting, one mill toward the public library along 4th Avenue and .15 toward the non-uniform pension fund.


Deer Season Becoming Family Tradition

10-year-old Maddi Fink took her first buck in Madison Township Armstrong County on a mentor hunt while accompanied by her father Micki Fink at 11AM Monday, December 1, 2014. Maddi, of Tidal, is the granddaughter of County Commissioner Rich Fink and will continue the family tradition Monday. (submitted photo)

by Jonathan Weaver

While the start of deer hunting season might be a time of tranquility and silence for some, it has become a family tradition for other local families.

County Commissioner Rich Fink expects the family atmosphere to be at his house bright-and-early Monday morning.

“Hunting is like a family tradition. I know Monday morning, probably about 3:30AM, my wife cooks breakfast and I’ll probably have anywhere from 15-20 people at my house,” Fink said. “My wife’s not a hunter, but her joy is to get up and cook the first-day breakfast.

“It’s sort-of like a holiday at my house.”

Part of the hunting party will include Fink’s two sons, Mick and Corey, 11-year-old granddaughter, Maddi, and his four younger brothers – Terry, Ed, Dave, and Roger.

While classes are canceled Monday for Maddi, some of the other hunters save up their vacation time for Monday’s opening day.

“And, when everyone stops back at my house, it’s dark. We are out for the day.”

Even when he wasn’t yet old enough to hunt, Fink and his brothers learned how to hunt from his father, Richard.

“We hunt bear, deer, turkey – and we’re also fisherman,” Fink said. “We all got that heritage from my dad.”

Fink’s mother, Mary, used to be in-charge of the pre-hunting morning breakfast at their family camp in Madison Township before they settled in to Rich’s house since most of them hunt in Madison Township for the day.

The family has also been successful the past few years – such as the recent bear season when the family totaled a dozen bear during the past three years – including six in 2013 and five in 2014.

The family tradition also continues next week for the Lash Family.

Gabe Lash, of Center Hill, has been a hunter for about 10 years.

Lash has taken his 10-year-old son, Colton, out with him since Colton was four years old, and now seven-year-old, Carter, has an interest in the outdoors as well.

“We plan much of our fall schedule around hunting in the woods. There’s not too many Saturdays that are free from the beginning of October until Christmas – we try to get out every Saturday if we can,” Lash said.

“It’s a family affair. It’s just a way to connect with family and friends.”

Even though the family trio hasn’t had any kills yet this season, Lash expects nearly a dozen family and friends to try their luck Monday for the opening of deer season.

“It’s been a hard season for us. We know that they’re there – it’s not so much missed opportunities, but it’s about selecting and shooting the one you’re happy with,” Lash said.

“For me as a father, spending time with them is just as important as whether we see a deer or not.”

Lash and his sons went archery hunting last weekend and sat atop the 15-foot high tree stand near the family’s farm in Adrian.

In recent memory, Lash is most-proud of the nine-point he shot last year because it was his first with a bow. The head is mounted –in his son’s room.

“(Colton) told me that when he shoots his buck, it’ll go up (in his room) and mine will be moved to the basement,” Lash laughed.

Given the high percentage of registered gun-owners in Armstrong County, Fink thought Monday’s opening day is also a family tradition for other local families as well.

“The first day of buck could actually be a holiday. And, if Armstrong County had school, there’d probably be very few students there.”