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BVA board members swear oaths, get message

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By Chris Buckley

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Before administering the oath of office Monday to one new director and three returning Belle Vernon Area School Board members, Magisterial District Judge Charles Christner had words of encouragement and a challenge for each.

By their own admission after the reorganization meeting, each indicated they had received the message.

“It's always good to know you're popular in the community and that the people believe you're doing the right thing,” Christner told directors Ronald Sotta, Aaron Bialon, Joe Grata and Edward Naylor.

Turning to Sotta, the newcomer, Christner asked, “All of this responsibility – are you ready to accept it?”

Sotta replied, “yes.”

Turning to Bialon, now entering his fifth term, Christner smiled and said, “I guess someone thinks you're doing something good.”

“You guys have a lot of responsibility, not only to our children but to our taxpayers,” Christner said. “I know you'll all take it seriously.”

The board again selected Bialon to serve as president, joined by Vice President John Nusser. The Law Offices of Ira Weiss were reappointed as solicitor.

Meetings will again be held the fourth Monday of each month with an agenda session at 7 p.m. Ensuing business meetings were moved up to 7:30 p.m.

Speaking after the meeting, the directors vowed to work as a team.

“I want to work 100 percent with the board to make BVA a better school district and to be a watchdog for taxes,” Sotta said.

Grata, in his third term overall and second consecutive on the board, said he wants his actions to “reflect the best interest of the students, staff and community in a fiscally responsible manner.”

“Our goal is to return BVA to number one and to maintain community viability,” Grata said.

Naylor, too, is beginning his third, four-year term. He said improving education as well as building and grounds are priorities.

Formerly of Rostraver Township and now living in North Belle Vernon, Bialon joined the board shortly after graduating from law school.

“As a board, we still have a lot out there,” Bialon said. “We're doing a lot of positive things for our curriculum and facilities.”

Bialon said the board should strive to achieve Superintendent Dr. John Wilkinson's goals for both curriculum and facilities.

He noted, for example, that improvements in curriculum will expose students to entry level college math while still in high school.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or



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