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N. Belle Vernon hires police officers

| Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, 12:31 a.m.

With a new chief in place, North Belle Vernon council restructured its police force – raising the pay rate for part-time officers, adding four of them and amending the police contract.

The changes were made during a special session Tuesday night.

Eugene Lipari was named police chief earlier this month after serving as acting chief following the retirement of Jim Bedsworth in June.

Council hired part-time officers Steve Kenyon, Brian Waggoner, Joshua Haines and Rebecca Shrader. Councilman Brett Berish said Kenyon and Waggoner will work 32 hours a week.

The new part-time officers will earn $14 an hour, up from the previous rate of $11.22 an hour.

“Let's get away from being a training ground and keep our people,” said Berish, public safety chairman.

The police contract was amended to cover only the chief and lieutenant, eliminating the sergeant and patrolman positions.

A new sergeant will be chosen early next year, with input from the chief and mayor.

With the new hires, the borough employs two full-time officers, the chief and lieutenant, and 11 part-time officers.

The status of one part-time officer might be in limbo.

Mayor Craig Ambrose said part-time officer Brice Joel has requested a leave of absence because he hopes to enter a police academy.

But Joel's letter to the mayor suggested the leave begin Sept. 10, two days after the academy session is scheduled to begin.

Ambrose suggested the leave expire on Sept. 10.

“Even if he was on leave, there is no guarantee there would be a job for him when he comes back,” Solicitor Mark Ramsier said. “We don't have that kind of luxury to hold a position open for him.”

In an unrelated matter, resident Mark Ferguson suggested the borough pave the alley just off Jean Street.

He said the tax collector's office is located at the intersection of the alley and Fayette Street, and the extra traffic has caused damage to the road.

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

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