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Veteran North Belle Vernon police chief will retire

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 12:21 a.m.
North Belle Vernon police Chief Jim Bedsworth (left) and Mayor Ed Lyons (right) traveled to Greensburg Wednesday to meet with Westmoreland County Commissioner Charles Anderson to pick up the police department's new computer on Wednesday, December 12, 2012. The $5,000 computer system was purchased using a COPS grant. Submitted photo

North Belle Vernon agreed to seek a new police chief after Mayor Craig Ambrose announced at Tuesday's council meeting that Chief Jim Bedsworth will retire.

“The chief informed the Police Pension Board during our last meeting and submitted his letter, which was accepted,” said Ambrose, adding he was saddened by the retirement decision.

Council took no action on Bedsworth's retirement, which will be effective June 28.

Council approved a motion to advertise for candidates to fill the position. The ad will run once a week for three weeks.

“I'm 61 years old,” Bedsworth said. “There comes a time when the mind still wants and can do the job, but the body says that it's been enough. It's been a difficult and emotional decision for me to make, but it had to be made.”

Bedsworth became North Belle Vernon's chief in 1999. He started his borough career in 1986 as a part-time patrolman.

“I thank the mayors and all current and past council members for all their consideration,” Bedsworth said. “They've been the kindest people to work with.”

Ambrose said he understands Bedsworth's decision.

“My relationship with Jim has gone back a long ways,” the mayor said. “He's done this borough great service and worked his way up since being a part-time patrolman.

“I'm happy for him as he starts this new period of his life.”

Ambrose told his colleagues about Bedsworth's decision Tuesday so they can come up with the best way to seek a replacement: promote from within or seek outside candidates.

“I think we have people in our own department that are more than qualified to fill the position,” Councilman Brett Berish said.

Berish moved to advertise the position.

“It can't hurt to advertise it. The chief will make his recommendation, the mayor will give his recommendation. … We'll interview the best candidates,” he said.

In other business, R.J. Sokol updated council on the Graham Street Park renovation project.

“(Widmer Engineers) are upbeat about our grant application,” Sokol said. “They don't see an issue going forward.”

Sokol said he met with state Rep. R. Ted Harhai, D-Monessen, who promised to support the project and confirmed that a state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant would not take money from other areas of the borough.

“So, if you hear that from people throughout the borough expressing that they have that concern, that's not the case,” Sokol said.

“This park is about to become a top attraction in the Mon Valley. We're going to be pulling in people and kids from throughout the area.”

Council President Dennis Simboli asked for a motion, which passed, requiring public works employees to wear lime green uniform shirts while on the job.

Councilman Mark Frederick added to the motion that the employees will be required to wear all necessary equipment in situations that call for it, especially hard hats.

Employees who fail to adhere to the uniform rules will be sent home without pay for that work day. Public Works supervisor Dennis Hill will enforce the dress code.

Ambrose said police will continue to monitor suspected “drug houses.”

“We are watching these houses, believe me,” Ambrose said. “One guy got arrested and he is in jail. It takes some time, but we are watching.”

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2667.

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