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Cherocci exits Belle Vernon Council

| Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

For the second time in two months, Belle Vernon Council has a vacancy on its board.

Councilwoman Carolyn Cherocci resigned her position during the board's meeting Monday, but she won't be leaving borough government.

Cherocci left council to accept the position of borough secretary/treasurer. That paid position was vacated with the resignation, of Ruth Dodd, also Monday night.

Dodd did not give a reason for her resignation.

“I'm sad to see you go,” council President Joe Minnitti said.

“This is the first I've heard of this,” Mayor Gerald Jackson said. “I'm speechless. You've helped us a lot. You got us through some hard times and got us on the right track.”

“I agree,” solicitor Mark Galper said.

Council was about to consider advertising for a new secretary/treasurer when Councilman Jesse Cramer recommended that Cherocci be hired.

“Her knowledge of finances would make it easy on us,” Cramer said of the transition.

Cherocci is chairwoman of the council finance committee.

Galper said Cherocci would be required to resign from council to accept employment with the borough. She agreed and read from a typed letter tendering her resignation.

Both personnel moves were approved 3-0 with Cherocci abstaining. Both will take effect Aug. 20.

Closing the books

Council closed the financial books on its bicentennial committee Monday.

At Jackson's request, council transferred $4,000 from the bicentennial committee fund to the general fund. That was the amount initially put into the committee fund in advance of planning for the community bicentennial events held in June 2013. An additional $493.08 — profit from the event — was placed in a fund for future community celebrations.

In addition, council authorized that $800 be budgeted for creation of a borough history book that will be sold to the public.

Jackson met with committee members Lewis Stiltner and Cherocci — both of borough council — along with Debbie Walters, Kimberly Ringstad Gray and Sherry Shondelmyer in a closed-door session in his office prior to the council meeting.

At its meeting in July, council agreed to Cherocci's request to ask the committee members to attend last night's meeting to discuss outstanding bills from the bicentennial weekend.

Under that plan, the committee was to meet with council at 6:30 p.m., a half hour before the regular monthly meeting.

Prior to the closed-door meeting, Jackson became angered that The Valley Independent was present for the session with the bicentennial committee. He said it was not a public meeting, even though a quorum of council members was present. Only Minnitti was not present at the time.

When they arrived out of the meeting in Jackson's office, the bicentennial committee spent several minutes praising its efforts in creating the bicentennial event.

Complaints heard

Council addressed two complaints Monday, one from a resident and the other from a downtown business owner.

Mary Ann Law told council that storm water and raw sewage seep into her basement during heavy rains.

After a lengthy discussion about the possible cause, the condition of the sewerage lines and the proximity of her 234 Main St. home to the river, Jackson vowed that the borough would have a sewerage line camera take video of her system to determine the cause of the problem.

Frank Nahar, owner of F & N Automotive & Notary, 138 Main St., complained that he received a letter from Southwest Regional Police about the condition of his business.

Cramer said he felt the business was violating the borough's junk yard ordinance. Cramer said Nahar can store unlicensed vehicles and those in need of repair on his lot, but not on a nearby lot that he also leases. Only those he is selling can be stored on the secondary lot, Cramer said.

Nahar said he believes he is meeting those requirements.

Minnitti said he will talk with police to ensure the business owner is only notified if there is a concern.

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