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N. Belle Vernon chief search near end

| Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

North Belle Vernon is nearing the end of its search for a police chief.

Councilman Brett Berish, who chairs the public safety committee, said during Tuesday's council meeting that the search to find a replacement for longtime Chief Jim Bedsworth has narrowed to four candidates.

Bedsworth's final shift will be June 28. Berish said Lt. Eugene Lipari will serve as interim chief until council hires a permanent replacement – most likely by the end of July.

After the meeting, Berish confirmed the borough received a number of impressive resumes for the position, but some candidates backed out when informed of the salary.

The North Belle Vernon chief's job will range in pay from $16 to $18 per hour, he said.

Lipari is one of the finalists.

Bedsworth, who became chief in 1999, received a commemorative plaque for his years of service.

Bedsworth, who lives in Fallowfield Township, addressed council as a whole before thanking the members individually at the start of the meeting.

“This is a very hard and emotional thing for me to do. … This has become a home to me here,” said Bedsworth, adding he's known Councilman Jon Wasicek since he was 10 years old.

“Just know that I'm always here for you guys, and I'll never not be part of this borough family. I swear, I will be at your beck and call at any time.”

Council approved Berish's motion to begin the process of installing handicap parking spaces in every block in the Broad Avenue business district. Council president Dennis Simboli said such spaces are needed in the 600 through 900 blocks.

Berish said he hopes the borough can establish the handicap spaces by August.

After a lengthy debate, council agreed to allow part-time borough workers to cut grass and weeds at eight vacant properties.

Under the advice of Solicitor Mark Ramsier, council agreed that the borough will place liens on properties that require such maintenance. The lien amounts will be based on man-hours, equipment use and gasoline use.

Although the borough could cite property owners for violating an ordinance designed to limit high grass and tall weeds, Ramsier said citations are futile against out-of-town landlords.

Wasicek, the chairman of public works, said eight such properties have been targeted for maintenance.

Before the meeting concluded, Simboli warned residents to remove downspouts from sanitary sewer lines.

Simboli said recent rainstorms overwhelmed the new sewer lines, causing manholes to blow off.

An ordinance permits the borough to impose fines of up to $1,000 on residents who have downspouts connected to the sewer lines.

The ordinance allows borough employees to go onto private property to inspect downspouts.

Simboli said council is willing to perform smoke tests to ensure residents are in compliance.

“I want our residents who are still connected to know this is their final warning,” Simboli said. “If you're in, get out. If not, you are going to get nailed.”

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