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South Fayette man charged with murdering his mother

A South Fayette Township man with a history of elder abuse in Washington County was charged Sept. 28 in the beating death of his mother.

David Lee Sumney, 30, of 172 Olde Orchard Drive, was charged with criminal homicide, robbery, theft by unlawful taking and abuse of a corpse. He has been in Allegheny County jail since Sept. 4 for receiving stolen property after he was found in possession of his mother’s jewelry, handbags and gun.

He lived on Olde Orchard with his mother, Margaret Sumney, 67, whose body was found in a second-floor bathtub Sept. 2 after police received a request to go to the home to check on the woman after she failed to answer multiple phone calls. According to the criminal complaint, the home was found to be in disarray, and investigators found blood spatter in the living room, dining room and bedroom.

Investigators later found numerous photos dated Aug. 29 and 30 on Sumney’s cellphone of the woman, bruised and bloody, in various positions throughout the home, along with photos of Sumney with what appeared to be blood on his face.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office determined she died as a result of injuries to the head, neck and torso, and her death was ruled a homicide.

A neighbor told police that on Aug. 29, he overheard an argument between a man and a woman at the Sumney residence.

Sumney had been arrested three times for assaulting his mother and his father. North Strabane police arrested him in August 2014 for hitting his mother, who was 62 at the time, in the head and face and choking her. In July 2015, North Strabane police charged Sumney with the assault of his 71-year-old father, David Lee Sumney Sr. And in November 2016, South Fayette police arrested the younger Sumney for assaulting his mother.

Sumney is being held in Allegheny County jail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 11.

Peters Township community learns about fire safety at open house

Even before the official start of Peters Township Fire Department’s Sept. 28 open house, members of local families were on hand and ready to start participating in the festivities.

“This is our day to show the community we’re here for them and not just make it when they call for our help,” fire Chief Michael McLaughlin said. “We have our annual donation drive, and we make sure that a piece of that goes right back into this day, to give back to the community.”

The well-attended event featured various activities in which children could take part.

Firefighter Jack Chastel, for example, assisted youngsters with spraying a high-velocity hose at various targets. And his colleague Chris Barton, a firefighter and advanced emergency medical technician, showed how the Jaws of Life work by helping kids crush plastic bottles.

Those in attendance also were able to learn about the proper use of fire extinguishers, and they received further instruction inside the Peters-North Strabane fire safety house, sponsored by FASTSIGNS and the Peters Township Chamber of Commerce.

The open house was held in advance of National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 6-12, and the entirety of October as Fire Prevention Month.

“It’s our busy season right now. We will have at least one event per day through the next month and a half, through the middle of November: going to schools, going to daycares, meeting with seniors, meeting with lots of different township residents to promote fire prevention,” McLaughlin said. “With more than 19,000 residents in Peters in 19 square miles, we have a very minimal amount of fires, and we really attribute that to our proactive, progressive and aggressive fire prevention.”

Fire Prevention Week brings the Oct. 9 start of the Peters-North Strabane Citizens’ Fire Academy, with sessions running from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. through Nov. 13, alternating locations between the two departments. The program is returning for the first time since 2012.

“We saw a good bit of success with it, but we also found restrictions. One of the restrictions we had was that all of our students need turnout gear,” McLaughlin said, referencing firefighters’ personal protective equipment. “We just don’t have that much extra turnout gear, so we combined resources with North Strabane.”

The Peters Township department continues to offer safety checks throughout the year for children’s car seats. A community event in December will wrap up a National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training Program session.

“Nationally, the misuse rate for a car seat is 74 to 90%,” instructor Kristen Urso said during last year’s program. “That could be, it’s the wrong seat for the child. It’s installed incorrectly, or the child is in the seat incorrectly.”

The Peters Township Fire Department has 17 career staff members and more than 30 volunteers, most of whom were present to help with the open house.

For more information about the department, visit www.ptfd64.org.

Mt. Lebanon continues to address overflow in sanitary sewers

For obvious reasons, the attitude of most people toward sanitary sewers is out of sight, out of mind.

The exception is when the bill arrives, especially when it turns out to be more costly than before.

As Allegheny County Sanitary Authority customers recently learned through letters they received, they can expect rate increases of 7% in each of the next three years, attributable to the $2 billion in improvements that ALCOSAN plans to implement.

The work to be done is outlined in what’s called a modified consent decree, which basically represents an agreement that ALCOSAN hammered out with various regulatory agencies on the federal, state and county levels. The revised version of the original 2008 decree continues the authority’s efforts toward achieving compliance with the federal Clean Water Act, which governs water pollution, during periods of wet weather.

According to ALCOSAN, implementing the plan would “significantly reduce the overflows of diluted, untreated wastewater into the region’s rivers,” partly through expanding the capacity of the authority’s treatment plant and upgrading conveyance systems.

Tying into the ALCOSAN infrastructure are local sanitary systems, some of which are operating under their own consent decrees. Mt. Lebanon is among them, and the municipality for many years has undertaken projects to mitigate the amount of excess flow.

“Those have been more of getting the systems back in line, just doing good operation and maintenance on things,” Dan Deiseroth, consulting municipal engineer and president of Gateway Engineers, said during a recent Mt. Lebanon Commission discussion session.

Now comes a new phase of the ongoing efforts.

“We’re on the verge of the next consent order, which we expect will be really the big consent order that’s going to cost the most money,” Deiseroth told commissioners. “And it’s going to be the one where we’re going to be required to do a lot of work to take out infiltration and inflow into our systems.”

The two key sources of overflow are defined with subtle differences. Infiltration is groundwater that enters a sewer system through defective pipes, pipe joints, connections or manholes, while inflow emanates from such sources as drains, catch basins and surface runoff.

Either way, Deiseroth and his staff members expect regulators to place a maximum on the flow through Mt. Lebanon’s sanitary system – they anticipate an initial standard of 4,000 gallons per day per inch of diameter per mile of pipe – as it makes its way toward the ALCOSAN system.

To put that somewhat in perspective, Gateway project manager Dennis Flynn said he has been reviewing flow-monitoring data and determined that out of nine points of contact between Mt. Lebanon’s and ALCOSAN’s systems, four measured flow at above the 4,000 mark.

Mt. Lebanon also has 21 points of contact with neighboring municipalities’ systems, and among those, the flow in 11 exceeded the anticipated standard.

“Our next step is to evaluate these systems and try to break that down to a more manageable area, so we can try to pinpoint and identify where this additional infiltration and inflow is making its way into the (Mt. Lebanon) system,” Flynn told commissioners. “If you really pinpoint those areas and focus your repairs or your future work on those areas, you can really benefit, essentially get more bang for your buck for the projects that we perform down the road.”

To address the issue further, commissioners also have discussed the possibility of adopting an ordinance to require testing in some form of sewer laterals, pipes that connect residences and business to the main line, for infiltration. Laterals generally are the responsibility of property owners.

“I think we’re going to have to come back to that conversation at some point,” Commissioner Craig Grella said, “just by nature of doing what we need to do to protect the municipality from this new consent order.”

Regarding the next agreement, Deiseroth addressed some priorities for Mt. Lebanon.

“No. 1, we want to make sure that we get as much credit as possible, because not all of the communities in Allegheny County have done the same amount of work,” he said about local improvements. “That, we think, is very important.”