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Litvany appointed to Rostraver commissioner seat

| Thursday, March 20, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

The Rostraver Township Board of Commissioners on Wednesday filled its vacant seat by appointing a longtime township firefighter and former postal carrier.

The board during a special meeting unanimously chose Gary Litvany to replace Don Bottman, who resigned Feb. 19 citing health issues.

Litvany is an active life member of the Collinsburg Volunteer Fire Department and retired last year after working 42 years out of the post office in West Newton.

Under borough code, the board had 30 days to name Bottman's replacement. According to township solicitor Al Gaudio, the lone qualification to apply is to be a registered voter of the township.

The board selected Litvany over seven other candidates, including former commissioner Nick Lorenzo, and three township firefighters: Rostraver Central officers Devin DeRienzo and Justin Shawley and Rostraver No. 1 assistant chief Rudy Godzak.

Lorenzo was the only past commissioner who applied. DeRienzo ran unsuccessfully in November for open seats won by current board president Pat Egros and first-year commissioner Ray Iacoboni.

Egros said he supported Litvany because he is retired and resides in a section of the township that has lacked representation. Egros called Litvany “down-to-earth” and “a new face that's unbiased and not politically involved.”

“A big part of this was to represent the Collinsburg area. It's been quite awhile since they had an actual resident of that part of the township (on the board),” Egros said. “With Gary retired, we felt he would have more time to provide to the township. ... He's going to tell you what he thinks and can provide an independent voice.”

Following the meeting, Commissioner Brian Sokol voiced his disapproval – not of Litvany's selection, but because the board did not conduct an interview process for the vacant seat.

Sokol said in his 19 years as a commissioner, two similar vacancies were filled and each time, the board formally met with each qualified candidate.

In October 2009, the board appointed former township commissioner George Martin to fill the seat of Ralph Iacoboni, who died from cancer while in office.

Ironically, the previous vacancy appointment involved Martin. The board appointed Bill Melilli in February 2005 shortly after Martin had resigned from office.

Sokol said although interviews are not required by the township, they provide a sense of legitimacy and common courtesy.

“I have the utmost respect for Gary, who has provided 45 years of service to the community and he's more than qualified,” Sokol said. “The problem I have is, in my history with the township, anytime there was a vacancy, there was an interview process. We did not give these candidates the opportunity to sit down with us and express their vision and what they wanted to accomplish. The fact we failed to follow that precedent, I feel, did a disservice to everyone who applied.”

When asked why the board chose to nix the interviews, Egros cited time constraints and prior knowledge of all eight candidates.

“That opportunity (to question candidates) was left to every commissioner individually. What we did was we got all the applicants in, distributed the information to every board member and gave them an email and instructions to contact any and all applicants,” Egros said.

“We were pressed for time. We kept getting applicants in … we got one in today and it wouldn't have been fair to him. And every applicant we got in, frankly, we're all familiar with.”

Egros said he hopes to have Litvany take his oath of office within the next two days.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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