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Dare Inquire Representatives Truth

DIRT :What DIRT does just so with us you know

Articles Fay-Penn :Inquiry About Special Treatment

May 19, 2000
Focus on workers
Courier Staff Writer
If Fayette County is to be a player in attracting new corporations to the area, it will have to focus on developing and maintaining its workforce.

That was just one of the factors Dennis Donovan, senior marketing director for a national site-selection firm, told guests attending Fay-Penn Economic Development Council's annual dinner on Thursday, the county must focus on if it wants to bring new companies into the area.

"The population base is declining and getting older," said Donovan. "There is a brain drain ... of 18 to 34 year olds."

Donovan, senior managing director of the Wadley-Donovan Group Ltd. of Morristown, N.J., was keynote speaker at the dinner, held at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa.

Herald-Standard Letter-to-the-editor about Fay-Penn
Sunday, September 12
Reader critical of Fay-Penn
Dear Editor:
It isn't local critics who espouse vague and false accusations. The vague and false information is coming from Fay-Penn Economic Development Council. They never answer questions regarding methods used to acquire land. Mr. Robert Eberly said there is no conflict of interest in the motives of board members. I think Mr. Eberly believes that. He has these puppets who need to protect their inflated salaries. Take a look at those signatures on the July 12 (newspaper) ad. In the endorsements I can see three possible conflicts of interests. Some motives are hidden so well in this cocoon we'll know only in due time.

It seems Fay-Penn is suffering from paranoid delusion. Otherwise, why did they spend close to $2,000 on this ad if they didn't feel the pressure from us `common' people as Fayette County Commissioner Vince Vicites calls us. And, what do you call a full page ad , if that's not grandstanding?

There's so much smoke and mirrors in this (newspaper ad) letter, one might think Fay-Penn sent the writer to the White House, the master of smoke and mirrors.

Of the 44 signatures, nine were from three companies. One must have passed the letter around the office like a football pool. Who are really the power brokers? Now we have Mr. Ron Nehls, one time Fay-Penn `yes man' turned want to be politician, who takes offense to Mr. Mike Ellis' (Herald-Standard editor) column.

Mr. Nehls, your letter is not only repulsive, but transparent as well. Your psycho-babble phrases such as `energized ignorance' is a result of conducting business behind closed doors. Until we get truthful answers from Fay-Penn, the commissioners and the Fayette County Zoning Board, we'll remain ignorant. Which is not a sin. But it is a sin to stay that way.

The folks on Burgess Road are not ignorant, even though we were denied access to your meetings.

Mr. Nehls uses phrases like ``deceitful tricks, lies, thoughtless remarks, and sloppy journalism.'' And where does he go to get a free quarter page ad? The Herald-Standard.

In response to Mr. Nehls' request for answered questions; let's understand one thing. You, sir in this case do not have the luxury . It's the voters turn to ask you some questions. In time, we'll have a lot of questions to ask you and Fay-Penn.

This entire matter centers around a small group of people who live on Burgess Field Road. But the methods used to acquire this resembles the Louisiana Purchase, ``buy low, sell high.''

These folks have homes adjacent to the proposed plant. None of us would tolerate this ambush on good, honest, strong-willed people. And the only outrage we see is from those directly affected. Remember this could happen to any of us.

Have we become so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget about others in need? These folks are dedicated to fighting this to the end. The two commissioners, Mr. Harry Albert, and Mr. Vicites, voted in favor of zoning changes, providing no support for these tax-paying landowners. All but two zoning board members voted in favor of rezoning. Throw in a couple of township supervisors who also jumped ship. Now add Fay-Penn and we come up with one word greed.

I am asking each reader to come to the aid of your neighbors. The power of the people is stronger than thousands of county governments. We need your support. This is a clear case of injustice. It's time to stand up for what we believe in. The Burgess Field families are standing tall. Let's stand with them. If any of you wish to offer suggestions or comment, please call me at 438-7517.
Tom Rice Hopwood

July 23, 1999

Group of irate residents
appeals rezoning decision

By Paul Sunyak
Herald-Standard Staff Writer
A group of irate residents living in the Burgess Field Road area of Georges Township has appealed a rezoning of about 20 acres of land as requested by Fay-Penn Economic Development Corp.
Four of those residents Thomas J. Maust, Leonard Mangold, Carol Maust and Robert Maust have formally asked the county's zoning hearing board (ZHB) to overturn the decision.
The county commissioners recently voted 2-1 to change the zoning to heavy industrial, over the seemingly unanimous objection of neighbors.
Commissioners Vincent A. Vicites and Harry E. Albert III voted in favor, saying they favor positioning the county for maximum job creation.
Commissioner Sean M. Cavanagh voted against, saying Fay-Penn has plenty of other vacant land in the county's 2,600-acre, tax-free Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ).
At Thursday's commission meeting, several residents and their supporters from elsewhere in the county slammed Fay-Penn for what they portrayed as an arrogant, uncaring attitude.
Carole Maust, who lives near the rezoned land, took issue with a full-page Sunday newspaper advertisement signed by Fay-Penn's board of directors, particularly its use of the the word ``ethical'' to describe the agency's way of doing business.
Maust said she, as an adjoining property owner, was never contacted about the proposed rezoning as required. ``Is this ethical?'' she asked.
Public statements :Many savvy citizens

Residents attack Fay-Penn
Courier Staff Writer
UNIONTOWN - Fay-Penn Economic Development Council and former county commissioner Fred Lebder were this week's targets for criticism among residents attending Thursday's Fayette County commissioners' meeting.

Several of those attacking Fay-Penn referred to newspaper advertisements the agency ran last Sunday. The ads appeared following a recent increase in criticism of the agency.

In the ads, Fay-Penn: touted its job creation/retention record; said allegations it is a "political tool of the alleged power brokers in the county" are paranoid delusions; described its critics as "creating a lot of hot air"; and vowed to "continue with its ethical approach to economic development."

The ads were signed by 44 businessmen and women.

Carol Maust, a Georges Township resident who lives near a tract of land commissioners rezoned from agricultural-rural to heavy industrial at Fay-Penn's request, took issue with the agency describing itself as ethical. Alleging state Rep. Larry Roberts (D-51) advised her Fay-Penn had told its board members it had talked to each homeowner individually regarding the rezoning, she contended none were contacted.

"Fay-Penn indeed did not come out, did not talk to any of us, individually, as homeowners," she alleged. "This is not ethical."

Vicites said Lori Omatick of Fay-Penn did address some 30 homeowners in the area on at least one occasion. He said Omatick also offered to speak with each homeowner individually.

Dave Lohr of South Connellsville, who along with Commissioner Sean Cavanagh is running as an independent candidate for county commissioner, questioned where Fay-Penn found the funds to pay for the ads. Saying Fay-Penn manages various state and federal grants for the county, Lohr asked commissioners to find out if taxpayer dollars were used.

Several residents also asked commissioners to look into the agency's real estate dealings, alleging some of its board members may have profited off taxpayer dollars through property sales associated with Fay-Penn contracts and programs.

Vicites, saying most of the allegations were "crazy," suggested the agency's critics take their concerns directly to Fay-Penn. When audience members complained it's the commissioners responsibility to "investigate" the agency, Vicites agreed to ask Fay-Penn in written correspondence if any of its board members have profited off its contracts.

The Rev. Peter Malik, a frequent critic of Albert and Vicites, alleged Lebder is the mastermind behind a so-called "political machine" he says is responsible for orchestrating every governmental decision in the county.

Malik alleged Lebder has been, over the past 30 years, the most influential individual in county politics. He and Geraldine Mazza of Vandberbilt, another frequent critic of Albert and Vicites, alleged all of Vicites' decisions during his tenure in office were made at the direction of Lebder.

Malik went on to call upon all candidates for commissioner to say whether they are for or against "the machine."

Vicites, saying he doesn't like the term "machine" when it comes to county government, said Lebder has never asked him to vote for or against anything.

"Every decision I made was what I thought was right in my mind and heart," said Vicites. "He's never asked me to do anything...I'll swear on the Bible to that."