The Community Development Division is excited to implement the new Lead Paint Hazard and Healthy Homes Program to address lead-based paint hazards and other health and safety household threats. Funded by a $3 million Lead Hazard Reduction Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, this program will improve the lives of children and families by identifying and mitigating lead and health hazards in 142 eligible homes in Westmoreland County over a three-year period. We also have received a $400,000 Healthy Homes Supplemental Grant that will be used to address issues such as mold and other household safety hazards.
Exposure to lead, especially in children under the age of 6, can cause serious health issues, including behavioral problems, organ damage, learning deficiencies, speech and language difficulties and, in rare cases, seizures, coma or death. Children of low-income families that live in older (pre-1978) un-assisted housing face the greatest risk of lead poisoning. Across the U.S., roughly 3.6 million families with young children live in homes contaminated with lead-based paint hazards. An estimated 70 percent of Westmoreland County’s housing stock was built prior to 1978, so the need for education, reduction and prevention of lead-based paint hazards is critical.
The Community Development Division is accepting applications for the remediation of lead-based paint and home related health and safety hazards in eligible households throughout the county. Homeowners, rental property owners and tenants are encouraged to apply. Applicants must meet the following requirements:
The home was constructed prior to 1978.
A child under the age of 6 years must reside or spend a significant amount of time in the home — or a pregnant woman must reside in the home.
The household income limit is at or below 80 percent of the county’s area median income:
Annual income limits for households ranging from one person to eight people.
The county will contract with residential renovation and remodeling companies to perform the lead hazard control work. Contractors must meet all training and certification requirements set by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Through the Lead Paint Hazard and Healthy Homes Program, contractors may be eligible for a training program that will assist with the costs associated with obtaining the required certifications. Outreach to contractors is currently underway.
For more details on the Lead Paint Hazard and Healthy Homes Program, contact Londe Dandar at 724-830-3366 or [email protected]
EGC helps K Castings secure low-interest PIDA loan for K Castings Inc.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced a new low-interest loan approval through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) program for a business project in Westmoreland County that will help retain nine full time jobs and create 1-3 full-time jobs over the course of three years. The loan funding will assist the business with the costs of purchasing new energy- and time-efficient equipment.
K Castings, Inc., a privately held family corporation specializing in the manufacturing of castings, was approved for a $93,952 loan through Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland. EGC Business Development Officer Kyle Martin reports the project will include the purchase of an induction furnace.
Founded in 1960, K Castings has been family owned and operated for 60 years. President Blair Adams and wife/Vice President Denise Adams purchased K Castings in March of 2018. Since taking over, the Adams have focused on growing the business by broadening their product line and purchasing newer equipment. This equipment will make work easier for their employees while also saving time and energy.
“Being a small business, K Castings is very appreciative of the dedication of the Economic Growth Connection in assisting us with the approval of a low interest government loan, especially in these difficult times,” Denise Adams said. “This loan for a new induction furnace provides our company the ability to operate efficiently in the 21st century by increasing production capability, providing steady and hopefully growing employment, and it’s a cleaner technology with virtually no environmental impact. Being as this is our third year as the new owners of K Castings, this loan is very helpful and appreciated.”
“We continue to see strong business investment within Westmoreland County, and with the low-interest rate being offered through the PIDA program, EGC can offer significant savings to any business wishing to build or relocate to Westmoreland County,” said EGC President and CEO Jim Smith.
Forum for Workforce Development pilots virtual career mentorship program between Elliott Group and Jeannette City School District
In partnership with the Consortium for Public Education, The Forum for Workforce Development is piloting a Virtual Career Mentorship program between Elliott Group and the Jeannette City School District that will give students and districts the opportunity to meet the industry-based learning indicators outlined by the PA Future Ready Index.
Given the ongoing uncertainty revolving around the COVID-19 Global health crisis, there is a substantial need for a variation on the work-based learning experience to be offered in a virtual environment. Even when health and safety are not barriers, many students and school districts lack transportation and/or access to professionals within their communities and would benefit from virtual career mentoring experiences.
This program consists of six one-hour mentoring sessions with professionals who will share their experiences in their industry, promote exploration of a field of interest and increase students' exposure to jobs, careers and adult role models in the workplace. At the end, students will complete a representation of what they have learned from the professionals in a written, audio recorded, or video recorded reflection or another project that demonstrates what they have learned has impacted their future plans.
The forum is planning to expand this experience to include all of its partnering school districts. If your business would like to participate or would like more information, email Forum Coordinator Anthony Princeton at [email protected] or Business Development Officer Austin Anderson at [email protected].
WAB Associates LLC signs sales agreement for 6.23 acres at Westmoreland Business & Research Park
In April, the WCIDC approved an option agreement between the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Westmoreland and WAB Associates LLC for the sale of a 6.23-acre lot at Westmoreland Business & Research Park in Washington Township. WAB Associated — which has six months to finalize the purchase of Lot 22 for $218,050 — represents the New Jersey-based Weiss-Aug Group, which plans to build a 40,000 SF manufacturing and office building on the lot.
Weiss-Aug already has a presence in the park; it owns JK Tool, a manufacturing business with 25 employees. In addition to the purchase agreement, Weiss-Aug announced plans for an expansion project that will double the size of JK Tool's 20,000 SF facility. Between the new construction and the expansion, Weiss-Aug expects its number of employees at the park to triple over the next three to five years.
“Since we moved our JK Tool plant to the Westmoreland Business & Research Park in 2017, we have been very pleased with the way the park has been managed and maintained,” said Weiss-Aug President Dieter Weissenrieder. “We also like the business climate, where business decisions can be made rather quickly without much red tape. Consequently, after an extensive business study, we decided to locate this new plant in the same park.”
WCIDC Commissioner Doug Chew is excited to see nearly all of the lots on the industrial park’s map designated as “sold” or “optioned.”
“This agreement means only one of the industrial park’s 44 lots is available,” Chew said. “When the WCIDC began to draw up plans for this industrial park back in the early 1990s, the goal was to create an atmosphere that would attract tenants that would appreciate the amenities of an industrial park in an attractive campus-like setting. We’ve done just that. In terms of developable acreage, this is our largest industrial park, and only 3.62 of about 260 sellable acres remains. This park has been a remarkable success.”
Weiss-Aug's planned expansion of JK Tool and the option purchase agreement for Lot 22 means the New Jersey-based company will add 50 new jobs at Business & Research Park.
Wyatt Inc. purchases 19.92 acres at I-70 Industrial Park
By having pad-ready sites available in its industrial park system, the WCIDC enabled Wyatt Incorporated to find a new home to build an expanded facility while keeping the business — and its 70 jobs — in Westmoreland County.
In February, WCIDC finalized the sale of 19.92 acres at I-70 Industrial Park that will become the future home of the Wyatt’s state-of-the-art millwork and exterior curtainwall manufacturing facility. Wyatt purchased Lot 18-R in the South Huntingdon Township park for $380,000. Plans call for a 120,000 SF facility to be built on the property. Work crews will begin construction in early summer, and Wyatt Inc. expects to move into the new facility in late 2022.
A Robinson Township-based construction contractor, Wyatt Inc. will move its woodworking millshop operation from leased space in Monessen Riverfront Industrial Park. As the company searched for space to build a larger manufacturing facility, it was important to find a location that was convenient for its employees, said Wyatt Inc. President Fred Episcopo.
“We’re very happy that we were able to keep our operation in the same general area that it’s been located in for the past 20 years and to maintain our current employees — the majority of which are local hires,” Episcopo said. “Our new home is less than a 20-minute drive from our current location, and we’re delighted to keep this operation in Westmoreland County.”
Episcopo said Wyatt expects the number of jobs at the facility to grow by 10 percent annually over its first five years of operation.
WCIDC Chairman Sean Kertes said the WCIDC was equally invested in keeping the Wyatt jobs in the county. “When it comes to economic development, people tend to emphasize — and justifiably so — efforts to bring new jobs to the county. However, it’s equally important that we help our existing businesses maintain and grow the jobs that are already here,” Kertes said. “By having a robust industrial park system, the WCIDC and Westmoreland County is able to provide several options for local businesses that are expanding, as well as those from outside of the region looking to relocate.”
JIP Building 102 available after energy-efficient upgrades
Building 102 in Jeannette Industrial Park is back on the market this spring after undergoing more than $650,000 in energy-efficient upgrades in the latter half of 2020. This 50,095SF industrial space was updated with:
bright, energy-efficient LED interior lighting,
new roof and wall insulation,
power-operated, roll-up doors at ground-level door and dock door locations,
new women’s restroom, and
refurbished office, breakroom and men’s restroom.
Building 102 is the second-largest space in the industrial park. A state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant covered the full cost of the updates. For more details, click here.
Mt. Pleasant Glass Centre lease renewals keep park at full capacity
With its lease renewal, EAP Innovations has ensured that the candle supplier will mark its 10-year anniversary as a tenant of Mt. Pleasant Glass Centre.
Rolf Poeting, president of Glassautomatic, shows off a piece from one of his company's many nautical-themed collections.
Master glasscutter Peter O'Rourke of O'Rourke Cut Glass carefully carves along the lines he drew on a vase.
Three tenants at Mount Pleasant Glass Centre signed lease extensions this spring, keeping the 142,681 SF facility at full occupancy with seven companies and that employ 110 workers.
EAP Innovations, a candle manufacturing operation that employs 21 workers, signed a three-year extension — which includes an optional two-year extension — to continue to use approximately 17,000 SF space in Buildings 100 C and 100D.
Glassautomatic — a glass-cutting operation that does service work for larger companies and sells its own line of consumer glassware under the Rolf Glass brand— extended its lease for 36,316 SF of space for 21 months. Glassautomatic, which leases an additional 26,000 SF of space in two other MPGC buildings, employs 58 workers. It was the first tenant to move into Mt. Pleasant Glass Centre in 2002. The WCIDC recently profiled it in our “Company Spotlight” series.
O’Rourke Cut Glass signed a one-year extension for 2,400 SF of space in Building 600. The agreement includes a one-year optional extension. The company has two employees. O’Rourke Cut Glass sells fine crystal, art/antique glass and engravable awards and gifts. Owner Peter O’Rourke — a master glass cutter who has lent his expertise to the inaugural bowl project for every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan — worked in the building for Lenox Glass for 21 years before opening his own glass shop with one-of-a-kind items created by local artists.
For details on the EAP Innovations lease, click here. For details on the Glassautomatic and O'Rourke Cut Glass leases, click here.
Spotlight: Digital Foundry at New Kensington
The keystone of the tranformative Corridor of Innovation project, the Digital Foundry at New Kensington is taking shape and is slated to open in 2022. Learn how the foundry will help both manufacturers and individual employees compete in the Industry 4.0 marketplace by clicking here.
The Alle-Kiski District is the first of seven sub-regional planning districts to finalize a plan that details land-use, mobility and intergovernmental priorities.
First Sub-Regional District Plan is Complete
We’re excited to announce that after more than a year of working with the 11 communities that make up the Alle-Kiski Planning District, the county’s first sub-regional plan — Remaking Our Westmoreland -- A Plan for the Alle-Kiski District — is complete. The plan identifies land-use, mobility and intergovernmental priorities specific to the Alle-Kiski District, and it helps to align county strategies with local priorities to better implement Reimagining Our Westmoreland at the local level.
There are seven sub-regional planning districts.
One of the more unique ideas outlined in the county’s comprehensive plan, the concept of planning districts arose from the fact that communities often face some of the same challenges such as blight, barriers to connectivity and transportation, and gaps in the types of services they are able to provide. By partnering with neighboring communities to address common issues, together they can become more resilient and ultimately strengthen the fabric of Westmoreland County.
Out of the 11 Alle-Kiski communities that participated in the process, seven already have embraced the plan and symbolically committed to working together to implement aspects of the plan by adopting resolutions of support. In the coming months, those seven communities — Allegheny Township, Arnold, East Vandergrift, Lower Burrell, New Kensington, Upper Burrell Township and West Leechburg — will begin working together in an intergovernmental capacity with the formation of the Alle-Kiski Intergovernmental Council, once agreements with the county are in place.
During the council’s first year, planning division staff will help provide administrative support as participating community leaders work to tackle topics such as
identifying key corridors and gateways for beautification,
establishing opportunities for coordinated regional planning and shared parks and recreation services, and
conducting a review of municipal services to determine shared service or joint-purchasing opportunities.
The planning-district process is set to continue to the other six beginning later in 2021, starting with the Central District.
The Planning Division’s Technical Resources and Municipal Services (TRAMS) program provides resources and technical assistance such as mapping, data collection, and other professional planning services to the county’s 65 municipalities. Working in a consultant capacity, the program gives county planners the opportunity to engage one-on-one with communities to help them realize their potential. Municipal officials who are interested in using the TRAMS program should contact Assistant Deputy Director Dan Carpenter at [email protected] or 724-830-3768.
Youngwood Borough Zoning Ordinance Complete
In 2020, the Planning Division aided in the creation and adoption of Youngwood Borough’s first zoning ordinance in more than 30 years. This hybrid, form-based zoning ordinance is designed to be lean as well as easy to understand and administer while providing a “light touch” type of zoning to help steer land use and development to meet the needs of Youngwood residents and business owners.
Mapping Blight in Greensburg and Latrobe
The Greensburg blight-mapping project will help city officials make data-driven decisions regarding the best use of taxpayer funds.
Recently, the Planning Division, through its TRAMS program, teamed up with the City of Greensburg’s Planning and Development Department to conduct a comprehensive inventory of blighted properties.
Blight is one of the most difficult problems for any community to solve. However, when it is mapped and combined with data sets such as crime statistics, code enforcement violations and tax delinquency, we can create a powerful tool that officials can use to make informed decisions about limited resources.
Greensburg officials plan to use the inventory as a jumping-off point to engage residents and leaders as they work to update of the city’s comprehensive plan. The inventory project — which is funded by a $10,000 grant from the Realtors Association of Westmoreland, Fayette, and Mon Valley — is expected to be completed by the end of this spring.
Once the Greensburg project is complete, the Planning Division will join forces with the City of Latrobe to conduct a comprehensive inventory of blighted properties in that city beginning early summer. Once this study is complete, the Redevelopment Authority of Westmoreland County will work with local stakeholders and municipal officials to convene a Blight Task Force and utilize the data to create a blight-management plan. The plan will identify key strategies the city can utilize to address blight with prevention, remediation and rehabilitation measures.
Regional Transit Plan
The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) recently completed itsSmartMoves Connections plan, a regional vision for public transit. The plan examined national best practices and analyzed existing land use to identify multimodal hubs and corridors within the 10-county region. View the interactive cluster map and associated recommendations for each type. The locations and recommendations within Westmoreland will help county planners and local municipalities ensure connection to the larger region and beyond.
RACW seeks applicants for countywide demolition program
The Westmoreland County Land Bank is looking for a developer for a commercial lot in downtown Mount Pleasant Borough. After property at 29 W Main St. was acquired by the Land Bank, a vacant hotel on the site was demolished to clear the way for a new reuse. Situated centrally in the East End area of Mt. Pleasant, this corner lot is bordered by a successful restaurant district and is in close proximity to the Coal & Coke bike trail, a prime location for new business development.
Interested? The suggested minimum bid is $30,000. Click here to view the development sheet. Prospective buyers can contact Shelby Michalek, marketing coordinator, at 724-830-3085 or [email protected].
29 W. Main Street is bordered by a successful restaurant district and is in close proximity to the Coal & Coke bike trail.
RACW Seeking Applicants for its Countywide Demolition Program
Vacant, abandoned and blighted structures cost our communities in tangible ways — they reduce the value of surrounding properties, create unattractive nuisances and place a strain on services such as police, fire and code enforcement. They also harm the reputation of neighborhoods where they exist.
The county’s demolition program can help communities struggling with blighted properties by reducing demolition costs for property owners. Residential structures require a cash match on a sliding scale with as little as $500. Commercial structures require a cash match at a minimum of 50 percent of the project cost.
The Redevelopment Authority currently has enough Community Development Block Grant funding to support the demolition of approximately 30 structures, depending on a variety of factors.
To start the process, interested property owners should complete this demolition application. After we receive your application, a staff member will contact you to begin the process.
To learn more about program eligibility and to apply, click here.
Redevelopment Authority Receives $150,000 to Continue Accessible Housing Program Success
Because RACW was awarded $150,000 in 2020 from the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development, we’re able to continue our Accessible Housing Program.
The Accessible Housing Program is an initiative focused on low- to moderate-income residents within Westmoreland County. It has two major components: the rehabilitation of once-blighted structures for single-family occupancy and the installation of accessibility modifications in residences of individuals who have permanent physical disabilities.
This DCED funding will be entirely dedicated to the purchase and installation of ramps or lifts for disabled people whose households earn less than half of the area’s median income. This program has been essential to our county’s residents in need, already completing 100 modifications from previous PHARE monies leveraged with county funding. The Accessible Housing Application can be found at www.westmorelandredevelopment.com.
Development Council staff
Familiar faces take on new roles; Dev Council welcomes new personnel
After more than a decade in the planning division, Brian Lawrence takes the reigns of Redevelopment Authority of the County of Westmoreland as its executive director.
We close out this newsletter with personnel news from the Planning Division, Redevelopment Authority and Community Development Division.
In 2020, the Planning Division saw some significant changes with the hiring of a new deputy director and the addition of a new planning coordinator. After more than 10 years on the job, Planning Division Deputy Director Brian Lawrence has moved on to become executive director of the county’s Redevelopment Authority and Land Bank.
“We are looking forward to Brian joining the team and leading the RACW as well as the Land Bank’s efforts to create an even more prosperous Westmoreland County” RACW Chairperson Donna Holdorf-Roadman said when Lawrence was named executive director.
Since joining the RACW and Land Bank, Lawrence has kickstarted a strategic-planning process to refocus and prioritize goals in this ever-changing climate. Strategy sessions have been taking place over the past few months and have incorporated board members and staff to create a cohesive plan for the future of RACW and WCLB.
Before taking on the new role, Lawrence certainly made an impact on the division and the county. A native of Westmoreland County, he previously held the positions of both senior planner and assistant deputy director within the division. Throughout his time with the division, he continuously worked to ensure the division was tuned in with technology, not only to better perform work but to better communicate and enable municipalities to make use of new tools and technology.
Lawrence — who holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in geography both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania — established the division’s Technical Resources and Municipal Services (TRAMS) program, which provides county planners the opportunity to work with the county’s municipalities in a consultant capacity, providing much-needed planning expertise, resources, and technical assistance. Through the TRAMS program, he and the Planning Division staff guided the development of Youngwood Borough’s first comprehensive plan, Youngwood Borough’s first zoning ordinance and South Greensburg Borough’s comprehensive plan update, to name just a few projects.
Lawrence, who holds a certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners, also led the development of the county’s updated comprehensive plan, Reimagining Our Westmoreland, which was adopted in 2018 and contributed significantly to the planning and development of the county’s first sub-regional plan for the Alle-Kiski Planning District.
Now only steps away from his former office, he looks to use his training and experience as a planner to serve the residents of Westmoreland County in his new role. “I’m excited about serving the residents of Westmoreland County in a new role, helping our communities address blight, expand housing, commercial, and industrial opportunities, and repositioning our towns for the 21st century," he said.
Daniel Carpenter has been promoted to deputy director of the Planning Division; he said he's excited about the new challenges. “What most excited me about this new role was the opportunity to face new challenges, grow personally and professionally, and help lead the efforts of the Division," Carpenter said.
Originally from Virginia, but more recently a transplant from Florida, Carpenter holds a bachelor’s degree in urban studies and a master’s degree in geography — both from the University of South Florida. He also holds a graduate certificate in community development from USF.
With more than seven years of experience with the Planning Division — and having previously held the positions of planning coordinator and assistant deputy director — Carpenter oversees transportation planning and programming and directs the division’s TRAMS program. His primary goal for the Planning Division? “My aim for the division is to simply help improve our communities and county, one day at a time. And for the Planning Division to be an asset, advocate and agent of change for our communities.”
Last but not least of our personnel news is the addition of Londe Dandar. In early 2021, the Community Development Division hired her as the intake coordinator and interviewer for the new Lead Paint Hazard and Healthy Homes Program. Dandar — who has a bachelor's in psychology education and a master's in education — handles outreach, education and interviewing; facilitates the application process, coordinates related activities and serves as liaison between the program's partners. She previously worked as an administrative assistant, teacher and admissions representative for several universities.