North Belle Vernon's Lyons resigns after seven years as mayor
After seven years as North Belle Vernon's mayor, Ed Lyons said it is time to “ride off into the sunset.”
Borough council Tuesday unanimously accepted the mayor's resignation.
“This is not a true resignation; I'm not resigning,” Lyons said. “I'm retiring. It's time.”
Lyons was not present for the acceptance of his resignation letter. He left the meeting after delivering his monthly report.
“As I enter in what might be considered the last phase of my life, I find that I have inherited other demands and responsibilities, which will consume my time and energies,” the letter stated.
“I wish you well in all of your endeavors with the hope that the residents of the community remain a constant factor in all of your decisions.”
Contacted after the meeting, Lyons quoted from the 1953 western film, “Shane.”
“There won't be anyone saying, ‘Come back Shane, come back,'” Lyons said. “I'll be happy, if someone sees me privately, to ask me my thoughts, but I'm not going to be coaching from the sidelines.
“That's the appropriate way to leave. I did what I could and needed to do while I was there.”
Lyons did not give any other reasons for leaving the post.
“I'm not even going to mention anything about health,” Lyons said. “I'm sort of happy and relieved. I've been at this a long time.”
Lyons said one of the factors that led him to resign is to avoid lame duck status that would follow a decision not to seek re-election.
“I expect to be in my office every day ... until I turn the keys in late on April 30,” he said. “I didn't want to have the lame duck status. That's why I made the announcement in that 30- to 40-day window to allow council to appoint someone. ... There's no way I wanted to be a lame duck from May to December.”
With a unanimous vote, council adopted a resolution for council Vice President Craig Ambrose to serve as mayor from 12:01 a.m. May 1 through the remainder of Lyons' term.
Ambrose, who is running in the mayoral primary election, said that as of Tuesday he is unaware of any opposition.
“It's a little bit of a shock,” Ambrose said of Lyons' departure. “I'll probably begin preparing as early as this evening to fill the position.”
Ambrose said he will work closely with Councilman Brett Berish, the public safety chairman.
“We've worked well together in the past and I'm sure that will continue,” Ambrose said.
Lyons wished Ambrose the best.
“And I'd hope council will give him all the support he needs in the execution of his work,” said Lyons, who said work remains for him.
“I am working to finish out the application for our Community Development Block Grant,” Lyons said. “I'll be producing the narrative and working with the engineers to try to get that work done.”
Lyons said he met for nearly four hours Tuesday with representatives of the Westmoreland County Planning and Development Council. He led a borough tour in an effort to obtain a $250,000 grant.
The money would cover part of a resurfacing project for Green Street, from Blind Lane to Grant Street, and Graham Street, from Vine Street to Fayette Avenue. The project includes all of Ferncliff Drive.
“It's my hope that the engineering data (will) move quickly in order to have this done in the summer of this year,” the mayor said in his monthly report.
Speaking from home, Lyons said he has no regrets about moving on.
“If you get to the point that you aren't at the top of your game, then it's time to leave. I didn't want to get to that point,” Lyons said. “There comes a time in everyone's life that you have to call it a day.
“I'm very relaxed. This job ... if you do it right, it's a burden. You have to make sure the people are taken care of,” Lyons aid.
“I understood the mayor has a job to do, even with limited authority. I tried the best I could to work with council and end with a favorable result. A lot of what I hoped we could accomplish, we did. ... I've given it my best.”
In other business, council made the last two annual payments covering this year and next year – $51,000 – to the North Belle Vernon Fire Department for the borough building mortgage. The payments will allow the fire department to pay its mortgage, as well as help with other projects and purchases.
Lyons said he met with state Rep. R. Ted Harhai, D-Monessen, about obtaining more money for the fire department.
In unrelated matters:
• Borough Secretary Lisa Pollock said that there have been complaints about a foul odor coming from the Trevita Landfill in Rostraver Township.
“There are times when it's terrible,” Ambrose said of the odor. “It's real bad in the mornings. I do know that the DEP is citing them. We can call them to file a complaint.”
• Council acknowledged Dennis Hill, street department supervisor, for his department's work during recent snow events.
“I'd put our road crew up against any others in the area,” council President Dennis Simboli said. “They're the best at what they do and they've done a fantastic job clearing the roads.”
• Councilwoman Betty Shine-Hill announced that the annual Easter Egg Hunt will be 11 a.m. March 30 at Graham Street Park. Stuffing of the eggs will take place at the borough building 6 p.m. March 22. Anyone wishing to participate can show up to help at that time.
Shine-Hill added that she hopes to have the security cameras in place at the park in time for the Easter Egg Hunt.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2667.