Girard police adds to its ranks

Girard Mayor James Melfi, at left, swears in new police officers, from left, Maura Malvasi, Jeniyah Anderson, Patrick Demski, all part-time; and Anthony Weibel and Garrett Bass, both full-time, at Monday’s council meeting. Missing is officer David Oakes, who also is part-time. Seated is new council clerk Monica Urbanick, who started earlier this month. Photo by Bob Coupland

GIRARD — The city has added two full-time and four part-time officers to the police department.

Mayor James Melfi on Monday officially recognized and swore in the new officers, who started serving the city two months ago.

Full-time police officers Garrett Bass and Anthony Weibel and part-time officers Jenyia Anderson, Patrick Demski and Maura Malvasi were sworn in. David Oaks is the other new part-time officer, but was not present for the ceremony.

Councilman-at-Large William Ryser noted two of the new officers are women and one is African-American, and said the police force should be more reflective of the general population of the city.

“It adds great value to our force, credibility to our city and makes our force more approachable for the public,” he said, also noting that several are Girard High School graduates.

Melfi said the part-time officers are paid $15 per hour and work no more than 29 hours a week with no benefits, and the full-time officers start at about $32,000 a year with benefits.

Fourth Ward Councilman Thomas Grumley asked if the new full-time and part-time firefighters added this summer can be sworn in next month.

In another matter, officials are trying to help residents of a section of East Liberty Street who are dealing with continuous flooding and sewage in their basements.

Bill Stasko, 603 E. Liberty St., said he and his neighbors have been flooded several times this summer.

Melfi said the section of East Liberty Street south of Wellman Avenue is prone to flooding during heavy rains because of its lower-lying area. He said about six homes have had flooding problems.

“We had six inches of rain in two days recently. The sewer line on East Liberty Street does not allow any other sewer line to enter it, but there was heavy rainfall,” he said,

Melfi, who has visited some of the homes, said the city is looking at the situation and trying to remedy it.

“I understand their frustrations. No one wants to come home to that,” Melfi said.

He said wastewater treatment plant employees checked the sewer line with telescopic equipment to check if the sewage system lines were blocked. They were found to be clear. Melfi said the sewer line was simply overwhelmed by heavy water.

“The water plant handles 5.1 million gallons of water per day. A Sunday two weeks ago, it handled 16 million gallons. That was three times the maximum flow,” he said.

Melfi said there were approximately 12 calls about sewage backup after the storms. He recommends homeowners install sump pumps and check valves to help prevent the issue.

The Beechwood Avenue area also has flooding. Plans are for an engineering study to be done, and Melfi said if work needs done on the sewer line, grant money will be sought.

Ryser said he understands the frustration, having himself faced flooding problems in the past.

“I emphathize with you. You feel unsafe in your home,” he said.

Officials said those areas and others in the city suffered severe flooding in summer 2003 when there were heavy rains and the area was declared a natural disaster.