Judge hears plumber’s appeal

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Blair County judge on Tuesday heard arguments on whether a Williamsburg plumber with a master’s license from Johnstown should be able to take a test to become a master in Altoona, so he can work in the city.

Trevor Rabenstein’s lawyer, Bob Rea, cited a two-part passage of the city Plumbing Code stating that while the board can give out-of-town practitioners one-time licenses, master plumbers from any other city in Pennsylvania must take and pass a master plumber’s exam in Altoona to conduct regular business here.

A plain reading suggests that a master plumber like Rabenstein should thus be able to take the Altoona test, pass it and begin working, Rea told Judge Wade Kagarise.

Altoona solicitor Dan Stants focused on another passage of the code that defines a master plumber as having qualifications that include two years’ service as a journeyman under a master. Rabenstein, who has worked as a plumber for 10-plus years and has his own company, nevertheless lacks those two years of journeyman experience under a master.

Kagarise said he plans to rule within 30 days.

Kagarise heard the case after receiving a written decision from the Altoona Plumbing Board, in keeping with an order issued in October.

The Plumbing Board in April 2016 denied Rabenstein’s request to take the master’s test, despite having the license from Johnstown and despite testimony from several witnesses about his competence as a tradesman.

When Rabenstein first applied to take the test, he didn’t have the Johnstown license, Stants told the court Tuesday.

He obtained it by taking a test, according to testimony at the 2016 hearing.

The qualifications for a Johnstown master’s license aren’t as stringent as those for a license in Altoona, Stants said Tuesday.

Thus, the requirement for two years as a journeyman can be seen as a protection against an underqualified practitioner getting a master’s license in an easier jurisdiction, then coming here to practice, Stants argued.


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