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Peters officials prepare for life without Councilman Robert Atkison

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

With the unexpected death of a longtime colleague, Peters officials are preparing for life without Councilman Robert Atkison.

On Monday, township council members will formally declare the seat vacant and begin the process of naming a replacement to finish Atkison's term. It expires in December 2015.

“I'm not sure how council will handle it,” township Manager Michael Silvestri said. “Everybody was upset and sad about it. But it is something we have to deal with. We have to move on.”

Atkison, 81, died on July 7. He served on Peters council for 22 of the past 24 years. The Army veteran also was a longtime member and assistant director of the VFW Post 764 Ambulance Service.

Peters requires at least 200 days' notice before an election. Council is appointing someone to finish Atkison's term because there isn't enough time before the November election to put the election for his seat on the ballot, Silvestri said.

“It's going to be difficult to find someone like Bob with all the experience he had with municipal government,” council President Frank Arcuri said.

Silvestri said Atkison is the first council member to die while in office since he started working for the township 37 years ago.

Council opted not to declare Atkinson's seat vacant when it met a day after his death, on July 8.

“It was a somber meeting,” Silvestri said.

Other council members couldn't bring themselves to declare the seat vacant at that meeting out of respect and deference to their late colleague, Arcuri said.

Following a 10-day waiting period, council members will have 30 days to appoint someone to fill the vacancy.

To date, one person has inquired about the opening, Silvestri said.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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