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Reinstated Windber police department ready to provide coverage
By Maria Miller
WINDBER, Pa. -- When the clock strikes midnight Tuesday we begin a new year and the borough of Windber gets a new police force. It's been three years since Windber Borough police disbanded and the regional police force in Paint Township provided coverage. On Wednesday, things will change structurally but for residents in Windber, Paint Borough and Scalp Level, officials say everything will remain the same.
Officials said it's been an extremely busy couple of months preparing for this big transition. On Tuesday they were getting just about new everything installed into their new building. They said it's probably going to take a couple of weeks until it's all completed, but as far as police coverage, they said they're ready.
"There's some odds and ends that need to be taken care of with the actual facility but as far as equipment and manpower we're ready to go," said Jim Furmanchik,
vice president for Windber Borough Council
For the past three years Windber Borough has paid Paint Township police to provide regional coverage. But when the township ran into money problems earlier this year,
"Public safety is paramount in Windber Boroughs councils eyes," said Furmanchik. "Now we have a real, live, efficient police force that's ready to serve your every need."
The new force will have just about new everything, from a building, to equipment, uniforms and cruisers. Officials say much of it was made possible with the help of the community including generous donations from the Windber Moose, Slovak Club, Polish Falcons and ESCO Corporation.
"When they left three years ago, a lot of our equipment was aging at that time so we had a lot of so we had a three year interval in between," said Windber Borough Manager Fred Oliveros. "To come back with that old equipment wouldn't have been highly efficient so we figured now's the time to replace everything and hopefully we'll be good for the next six to seven years with expenses."
One thing that will remain the same though are the people in the new uniforms. Most will be Paint Township officers making the transition, some of them even original officers from Windber three years ago.
"It's all the same faces. They know the system, they know the people and they know the streets," said Chief Rick Skiles. "It was a win for Windber, Scalp Level and Paint Borough having these police officers here because they already know the job."
The department's new building sits along Jefferson Street directly right in the borough. Skiles said it has plenty of space and will be the perfect lay out for the new department as soon as it's ready.
"We're not a hundred percent ready inside the building here but we will be 100 percent ready on the street tonight," said Skiles.
The new department will also cover Paint Borough and Scalp
Level, who are paying Windber for police protection.
As for Paint Township, the police department there will remain but it has been restructured. Skiles said he will stay on as chief there, managing duties at both departments, but will spend most of his time in Windber.