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Layman resigns from part-time post

| Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Joe Napsha | The Times-Sun
Members of the Sewickley Township road crew spread rock over a washed out section of Scott Haven Road and a roller prepares to compact it June 11, 2014. Sections of the road were washed out in the May 28 storm and residents were on hand at the supervisors' meeting June 18 to decry the poor condition of Scott Haven and Van Kirk roads.

Sewickley Township's office coordinator abruptly resigned June 18, saying she was “tired” that every week she has to defend being paid $10 an hour for working on township business.

“It was not worth it,” Supervisor Wanda Layman said following a stormy meeting in which more than 30 residents of Scott Haven and Van Kirk roads bitterly complained about the poor and potentially dangerous condition of the roads by their homes.

Layman said she had previously considering resigning from the post and made her resignation, effective immediately. Layman and fellow supervisor Joseph Kerber voted to accept the resignation, while Alan Fossi, board chairman, voted against it.

Fossi said he believes Layman did a good job and had worked hard. She is paid for working 25 hours a week.

“I think she gets persecuted,” Fossi said. “She was the lowest paid township employee.”

Kerber said he was surprised that Layman resigned and believed she could have taken that action without a vote by the supervisors.

Layman had served as office coordinator since January 2013, when she and Fossi voted to hire her to manage the township personnel and coordinate day-to-day operation and business. At the same meeting where Layman was hired as the coordinator, Kerber, who opposed hiring Layman, was removed as road master. He oversaw the township road department, which is responsible for maintaining 70 miles of roads.

Layman, a former Westmoreland County employee, said she spent more than 25 hours in the township office and anticipates volunteering her time in the office as a supervisor overseeing township business.

The three supervisors will oversee township operations, Fossi said.

Prior to the vote, Layman's job as office coordinator was challenged by Wayne B. Jones, a former township supervisor who lost his bid for re-election in the 2011 Democratic Party primary.

Jones, a South Huntingdon resident, urged Layman to resign on the grounds that she should never have been permitted to vote for hiring herself. Layman joined Fossi in voting to hire her as office coordinator.

Layman said that the township solicitor, Daniel Hewitt, permitted her to vote on the issue, but Jones, a former manager of Ross Township, disagreed with the solicitor's opinion.

In other business, the board voted to advertise for bids for paving McGrew Hill, Curry, Reservoir, Cool Springs and Derr roads, along with Maple Street. The road paving projects are to be paid with money the township receives from state liquid fuels money. The bids are to be opened on July 16, with the board voting to award a contract at the July 16 meeting.

The poor condition of Scott Haven and Van Kirk roads was debated for more than one hour, prompting the board to rethink its plan to pave just a portion of Scott Haven Road with about $100,000 in money from the state's Act 13 fund that comes from fees levied on natural gas companies drilling in the Marcellus shale reserves. Layman said it would cost about $230,000 to pave the entire road.

The board voted to conduct a special meeting to consider improvements to those roads, but did not set a date.

Rather than advertise for bids for paving Van Kirk Road, Layman said the township planned to have its own crews do the paving, Layman said.

One Scott Haven Road resident, Gene Suskalo, who said he has lived there since 1971, complained that the board's initial plan to pave part of the road, beginning at the bottom of the hill near the CSX Corp. railroad tracks, did not make any sense. More residents live on the upper portion of the road, Suskalo said.

“We have a small portion of a paved road, and the rest is potholes,” Suskalo said.

Suskalo said the road has never been in good condition, but it has not been as bad as its current condition.

Layman said the township road crew spent several days repairing the damage from the May 28 storm. The supervisors acknowledged the poor condition of the road and the safety danger posed by a 25-foot gully off the side of a portion of the road.

Despite the supervisors' promises of considering improvements to the two roads, Suskalo said after the meeting that there is no resolution of the matter “until I see it paved.”

In other matters, the board accepted Gary Grimm's resignation as a Sewickley Township auditor, effective immediately.

Responding to suggestions that the vacancies on boards be advertised, Fossi said that residents can submit their applications to serve on a board. There are vacancies on the Municipal Authority of the Township of Sewickley, as well as other boards, Fossi said.

The board also approved the following disbursements:

•$1,000 to the Sewickley Township Community Fair that will be held July 14 to 19.

•Up to $2,922 for the filing of municipal claims for 2012 delinquent street light assessments.

•$4,200 in 2013 Emergency Management Services Tax funds to the Hutchinson Volunteer Fire Co. to pay Sever Refrigeration Services for a heat pump for the fire hall furnace.

•$4,400 to Justin Sherry for emergency shelter flooring at the Herminie Volunteer Fire Co. The money will come from the EMS Tax funds. Also $1,250 to Premier Safety & Services of Oakdale, for annual service on a “jaws of life” metal-cutting tool.

•$8,018 to the Susquehanna Fire Equipment Co. of Dewart for three sets of personal protective equipment for the Lowber Volunteer Fire Company.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-836-5252.

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