It's official: Ambrose mayor in North Belle Vernon again
Even though he's already been on the job for six days, Craig Ambrose was officially sworn in as North Belle Vernon mayor Tuesday.
Ambrose – sworn in by West Newton Magisterial District Judge Charles Christner –replaced Ed Lyons, who left the mayor's office last week.
A lifelong borough resident, Ambrose said the most pressing need is to find a tenant for the First National Bank building, which now houses PNC Bank.
PNC announced last month it would close the branch July 19.
“I'd like to try to secure another financial institution, but so far we haven't had a lot of bites for it,” Ambrose said.
“If we can't get another financial institution, we need to get something else in there. No one is even sure that the bank is going to be willing to sell the property at this time.”
Ambrose said he hasn't been able to talk to any PNC officials, other than the branch manager.
“The big guys said they'll talk to us when they're here, which is the last day of business,” Ambrose said. “They tell you, though, this is a done deal. There's nothing we can say or do about it.”
Times have changed since the last time Ambrose was mayor. He was appointed to the position after former Mayor Pat Angelo died in 2004.
“The biggest thing is the money, as far as getting state and county funds,” Ambrose said. “There's just less to go around. It's the municipalities that make up the counties and the states, yet there's no money for us.”
As mayor, Ambrose will oversee the police department.
“For now, it's going to be status quo where the police department is concerned – just until I can arrange a time with council to have a meeting with the chief and all of the officers,” Ambrose said. “There are some changes that will be taking place.”
Ambrose wants to show people the police are doing their jobs.
“We need the (residents) to look out for each other,” Ambrose said. “When there's citations issued or arrests, we want to get that stuff out there in the newspaper and let residents know that we're out there doing what we need to do.”
Council President Dennis Simboli expects the relationship between council and the mayor's office to improve.
“I think it will be more of a team effort,” Simboli said. “The previous mayor liked to go out and do things on his own and kept things from us. Craig has been involved in politics for 24 years, and we've always had a good, working relationship. I believe he'll keep us, as a council, more involved.”
Simboli echoed Ambrose's thoughts on the police department.
“One set of eyes in a police car is not as good as an entire block,” Simboli said. “I think with Craig in office, we're going to see a big difference in the police department. I hope things won't be kept out of the public's eye.
“Residents have a right to know what's going on in their neighborhoods and can help the police do their jobs.”
Ambrose, council vice president before Lyons resigned, said he doesn't expect negative issues with council.
“I think the relationship with council will be good,” he said. “We're going to do things together. ... It's going to be a team effort.”
Ambrose, 53, and his wife, Pam, have been married for 25 years. They have three children: Courtney, 24; Jeff, 22; and Cody, 16.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2667.