Council to tackle housing

Hollidaysburg police station may get bulletproof glass

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Borough Council is taking on housing rehabilitation again this year with about $100,000 trickling down from the federal government.

For the past two years, the council has used money from the Community Development Block Grant program for housing rehabilitation. There are 11 householders still on the list of properties that qualify.

The money only goes to householders. Blighted properties owned by landlords is another issue.

There are two vacant properties on Montgomery Street that are absolute eyesores, said William Helsel, who has lived on Garber Street for 46 years.

Letters to the owners of the buildings at 810 and 818 Montgomery St. have been sent, said Gerald Harbison, zoning and code enforcement officer.

Mayor Joe Dodson is familiar with the properties that Helsel came to the council Thursday to discuss.

“I agree,” he said. “This is too nice of a town to let that happen. Those properties are disastrous.”

Later in the meeting, Dodson had another issue that he wanted the council to address.

The borough’s police force is often called to investigate crimes in the Blair County Prison, which is operated by the county.

However, the county does not help pay the overtime for the borough’s officers.

“They should be reimbursing us for overtime of our officers,” Dodson said. “It’s a burden on our police department and on our town.”

Dodson said he would be sending letters to the county as well as the county district attorney’s office.

In other news, shaded bulletproof glass may soon be installed at the Hollidaysburg Borough Police Station office desk window to protect employees who interact with the public.

Dodson said his suggestion for the glass was motivated by the recent senseless mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that happened less than a day apart.

The council is looking for a vendor that installs that kind of glass, Borough Manager Jim Gehret said.

“You can’t put money on a life. People can get upset about a $5 parking ticket and come in all hopped up,” Dodson said.

The council agreed to discuss the upgrade at the next council meeting on Sept. 12.

The borough’s sewer and water billing office, in the same Blair Street building as the police station, was upgraded with bulletproof shaded glass in 2012.

The office used to have a sliding window that employees would open accept bills from residents. But that exchange often could be dangerous.

“The girls would slide open the window and people would reach through the glass. People get upset when they are paying the water bill. … We upgraded the window,” Gehret said. “It’s bulletproof, and people can’t get their hands in there. At the time we talked about the police department, but there was not the issue there was today with the shootings.”

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