New Castle News

Local News

September 24, 2013

Law association seeks new home in New Castle

NEW CASTLE — Neighborhood Legal Services Association is looking for a new home.

Actually, it has found one — some vacant space formerly occupied by the police department at city hall.

However, the non-profit law firm is asking that it be given the space free of charge. Although Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo supports the idea, the decision for granting the space rests with council.

Some discussion on the request occurred at council’s work session two weeks ago. The matter is again on council’s agenda for tonight’s work session.

Neighborhood Legal Services, which has been in New Castle since 1974, is facing the closing of its office in the Temple Building and one in Butler because oaf funding cuts totaling $1.3 million over the last three years. Offices in Beaver and Pittsburgh will remain open.

The cuts, primarily in state and federal funds, also have resulted in the layoffs of 19 full-time staff members, according to Michelle DeBord, managing attorney for the association.

NLSA provides free legal service to help people with low incomes, the elderly and victims of domestic violence to resolve civil matters. Its cases include protection from abuse, landlord tenant disputes, mortgage foreclosures, Social Security disability and unemployment compensation hearings.

“What we’re trying to do is maintain an open door for the clients to come in,” DeBord said. “We can’t keep an office in every county. That’s why we’re looking for space that would be free.”

Explaining the reason for maintaining a local presence, DeBord said, “It’s a question of access. For people to call a place, it’s just another hurdle for them.”

Having people contact the office by telephone, she said, is not “the same as having a place where they can talk to a live person.”

If the office can’t obtain space in the county by the end of the year, the staff would be moved to Beaver and would travel back to New Castle for hearings.

“It wouldn’t be a good use of time,” DeBord said.

At council’s Sept. 10 work session, Councilman William Panella expressed opposition to the request, arguing the county should provide space. He said NLSA is “a substantial benefit to the county; that’s why the county should do it.”

Council president MaryAnne Gavrile argued in favor of having the office at city hall, saying most of the clients are from the city.

Christine Kirby, development officer for NLSA, said the firm looked at space on the third floor of the David P. Gettings Annex. However, she said “extensive renovations” would be required to provide handicapped accessible bathrooms for clients. She added that raising “that amount of money for a building that’s not ours” is not feasible.

Matthew Staniszewski, the city’s economic development director, has provided council with an analysis of the law firm’s request, listing the pros and cons.

Reasons listed in support include the fact that most clients are city residents and, aside from minor renovation and cleaning, there would be nearly no net change to the city’s finances.

On the negative side, he said providing free space could set a precedent for other organizations that faced budget cuts. Or, an organization may challenge why one entity is selected over another. Also, the city could potentially renovate the space and find a paying tenant.

Staniszewski did not recommend whether the request should be approved or denied.

By the numbers

A quick look at the Neighborhood Legal Services Association. They agency:

•Handled 811 cases in Lawrence County in the 2012-13 fiscal year that ended June 30.

•Helped nearly 2,000 individuals and families.

•Obtained $1,371,531.42 in back awards/settlements for clients along with $224,416.41 in total monthly benefits, thus having an economic impact in the county.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Pride.tiff New Castle Schools: Second-grader recognized for reading 200 books

    Alexandra Browne of New Castle could very well be Lawrence County’s youngest bookworm. The petite, curly-haired 8-year-old was summoned to the New Castle school board meeting Monday with her parents, Rochelle and Ted Browne, to receive the district’s Pride and Promise award for April.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hilcorp a partner in vo-tech shale course

    A shale drilling company’s contribution to the vo-tech school will help fund a curriculum for careers in that field.

    April 19, 2014

  • 01.jpg Photo Gallery: Church’s tradition of Easter countdown continues

    Easter is keenly anticipated by Christians around the globe. But perhaps nowhere is its arrival more heralded than at Independent Methodist Church.

    April 18, 2014 11 Photos

  • Lawrence county receives state grant

    Lawrence County will receive state funding to update its comprehensive plan. The county will receive $47,000, in the form of a Municipal Assistance Grant, from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, according to state Sen. Elder J. Vogel.

    April 18, 2014

  • Mahoning Township sets spring cleanup

    Mahoning Township will have its spring cleanup the weeks of April 28 and May 5. Residents should place items at the curb the day before their scheduled collection. They should be neatly bagged or bundled.

    April 18, 2014

  • Vo-Skills.jpg VoTech team claims silver medal state honors

    The Lawrence County Career and Technical Center boasts a team of disciplined, well-spoken winners. The school’s SkillsUSA team, comprised of 21 students, stood against other schools from throughout Pennsylvania last week in Hershey.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Columbia Gas announces pipeline replacement work

    Columbia Gas has scheduled a pipeline replacement project for New Castle. Beginning this month, the company will replace approximately 2,800 feet of existing steel pipe along Eastbrook and Paper Mill roads and Cascade Street. The project is expected to be completed in July.

    April 17, 2014

  • ESB Financial reports earnings increase

    ESB Financial Corp., parent company of ESB Bank, has announced an increase in earnings for the quarter ended March 31.

    April 17, 2014

  • Author.tiff Arthur the author: Children’s writer/illustrator visits Neshannock Elementary

    A story about a grandmother and her granddaughter flying over a city grew from the vivid imagination of children’s author Arthur Dorros. “Abuela” also spurred the creativity of students at Neshannock Memorial Elementary School who had eagerly awaited a visit from Dorros yesterday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Greer House changes name

    Greer House, a provider of assisted living services and care to seniors, has unveiled its new name. “We are thrilled about our new name — Clen-Moore Place,” said executive director Susan Leise, “because it better reflects our commitment to provide a vibrant environment where our residents thrive each and every day.

    April 16, 2014