Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Township's New Rule for Ads Questioned

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Township's New Rule for Ads Questioned

Article excerpt

North Huntingdon commissioners say a recently enacted "truth in advertising" ordinance will help improve public safety by ensuring first-responders don't rush off to Irwin when they should be going to North Huntingdon. But the police chiefs of Irwin and North Huntingdon say there has never been any confusion about where emergency crews are headed.

Commissioners voted unanimously in March to pass the ordinance, which states that organizations including businesses, nonprofits, health care organizations, government agencies and fraternal clubs or other groups sometimes advertise that they are "in other municipalities rather than the Township of North Huntingdon, thereby exacerbating the confusion of patrons and other visitors," potentially "resulting in delays associated with misdirected requests for emergency assistance."

The measure calls for advertisement or communication by such groups to conspicuously identify the "location of the establishment as within the Township of North Huntingdon."

Commissioners Zachary Haigis and Brian West said they passed the law over concerns about public safety. The other five commissioners could not be reached for comment.

"It's more of a public safety issue than forcing businesses to say they're in North Huntingdon," Mr. West said.

But police officials disagree.

"There is no confusion," Irwin police Chief Joseph Pocsatko said. "The Irwin police, the Irwin fire department, the Irwin ambulances ... know exactly what's Irwin Borough and what's North Huntingdon Township." Chief Pocsatko is also an assistant chief of the Shafton Volunteer Fire Department in North Huntingdon and an emergency medical technician for Rescue 8 and Irwin EMS.

North Huntingdon police Chief Andrew Lisiecki echoed those sentiments.

"I can't speak for any other borough, but I can speak for North Huntingdon," he said. "As far as I know, there have been no concerns over emergency dispatch."

Rosanne Barry Novotnak, president of the Norwin Chamber of Commerce, said she understands the commissioners' concerns.

"The whole thing is very confusing," she said, noting that most people don't realize that North Huntingdon surrounds Irwin and North Irwin, and the three municipalities make up the Norwin School District. She added that the entire area has a 15642 ZIP code, and some properties that are actually in Penn Township, Hempfield and North Huntingdon have Irwin mailing addresses.

Also, because Irwin is an exit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, a lot of businesses use Irwin as the point of reference in advertising. She said it's a problem when businesses are dealing with people from out of state.

"If you lived in Dallas all your life, you'd be like, 'I don't understand,' " she said.

As an example, she said the chamber's address is 321 Main St., Irwin. However, 321 Main St. …

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