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HERMITAGE Officers to ride on buses



Published: Thu, September 20, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



School route runs will get the most attention, one official said.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

HERMITAGE, Pa. -- Riders on Shenango Valley Shuttle Service buses will soon be seeing uniformed police officers riding on those vehicles.

The Mercer County Regional Council of Governments, which runs the public transit program, has secured a $100,000 state grant to hire off-duty officers to provide bus security, said James DeCapua, executive director.

He outlined the program Wednesday at a COG executive board meeting.

He said the main concentration will be morning and afternoon bus runs that carry a lot of pupils going to school, particularly in Sharon and Farrell.

"There have been substantial disciplinary problems" on some of those runs and even a couple of cases of bus drivers being physically assaulted, DeCapua said.

The development of this program was under way long before the recent terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C., and New York City, but it does fall in line with heightened security demands for public transportation, he said.

Funding: The city of Sharon will get $30,000 to provide 1,000 hours of on-board security over an 18-month period that began July 1, DeCapua said, noting that Sharon already has been putting officers on some buses.

Southwest Regional police will get $30,000 for 1,000 hours over the same period, he said.

Hermitage will get $30,000 for 333 hours of service over a three-year period and will also provide the transit service with free space on its radio communication tower for 10 years.

Finally, Sharpsville will get $10,000 for 333 hours of service over three years, DeCapua said.

COG also has received $125,000 in state and federal grants to use for capital improvements in the five municipalities served by the shuttle service.

Sharon, Farrell, Hermitage, Sharpsville and Wheatland will each get $25,000 and can choose the type of improvement they want, such as bus stops, walkways or security lighting.

Vehicles damaged: In other business, the board agreed to pay about $4,800 in damages to Hermitage Street Department employees whose vehicles were damaged by spray painting at the municipal garage on Virginia Road on Sept. 11.

COG had arranged for a work crew from the State Regional Correctional Facility at Mercer to paint a chain-link fence that surrounds the city garage as well as the shuttle service bus garage, but there apparently was a lot of overspray that carried to the employee parking area.

DeCapua said vehicles belonging to nine COG employees and 11 city employees were damaged. The total repair bill should reach about $5,300, he said.




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