By LAURA MILOSER
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Neshannock Township supervisors have received a grant that will aid in the expansion of the Hess Ice Rink.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources approved a $125,000 grant for the 3,500-square-foot expansion.
Richard Pearsall, township park and recreation director, said Wednesday night that plans are to add locker rooms with showers, provide extra seating and a party room, and expand the concession stand.
He said the addition is necessary to continue to compete with other ice rinks. Pearsall said that when Hess was built several years ago, it was the New Castle area's only ice rink.
Supervisor John DiCola Jr. said the supervisors would advertise for bids in March. They estimate the total project cost to be around $475,000. He added that if the bids fall into place, the supervisors would like to plan construction during the slow time at the rink, which would be June, July and August.
In other business, administrative assistant David Congini gave a report on the increase in calls made to the township fire department.
He said emergency and nonemergency calls have increased from 164 in 2001 to 320 in 2003. Congini said the fire department received 39 calls in January compared with 19 in January 2003. Congini said he attributes the increase to the township's elderly population making more calls, and a high number of nonemergency calls because of last year's flooding.
He said although the call volume has increased, the number of firefighters reporting to the calls has decreased from an average of eight to 10 per call to an average of six firefighters per call. The township fire department is a volunteer company. Congini said the low numbers of firefighters has not been a problem so far, but the department has used mutual-aid services more.