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Cheswick councilman accused of socking fire chief

| Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, 2:24 p.m.
Former Cheswick Councilman Jonathan Skedel

SPRINGDALE — Police said a “chance encounter” between Cheswick Borough's council president and the borough's fire department president ended Wednesday morning with at least one punch thrown.

Fire department President Joseph Ferraro was coming out of a store in the 500 block of Pittsburgh Street at the same time that Cheswick Council President Jonathan Skedel was walking his dog, Springdale Borough police Chief Joseph Naviglia said.

The men exchanged words and Skedel allegedly punched Ferraro, according to Naviglia.

He said Ferraro went to a dentist for injuries sustained during the incident.

The men live in Cheswick but happened to be in Springdale.

Naviglia said the matter is under investigation.

Charges haven't been filed.

Police are attempting to obtain surveillance camera footage of the incident and looking for witnesses.

Ferraro declined to comment Wednesday night.

Skedel said the men exchanged words.

“I was attacked, and I defended myself,” he said.

Skedel said he was leaving his home late Wednesday morning to go to a hospital to deal with an illness that caused him to step down as council president Tuesday night.

Skedel did not disclose the nature of the illness.

Borough Manager Andy Bock confirmed that Skedel stepped aside as president, but remains on council.

Skedel, Vickie Roolf and Peter Holka were elected last fall on write-in campaigns.

Roolf said she heard about the confrontation and talked to Skedel about the illness.

“I hope he is OK soon,” she said.

Mayor Daniel Carroll said he heard about the incident.

“I hope the investigation is completed quickly,” he said.

Roolf and Carroll said the borough is trying to schedule a town-hall meeting next month to discuss the borough's police and fire coverage and alternatives.

Skedel has clashed with the borough's fire officials by urging the council to reject plans by the previous council to use a bond issue to buy a new fire truck.

In May, Cheswick Council voted, 4-3, with Skedel to vote against buying a new truck. The fire company will get about $32,000 to repair the old truck instead.

Skedel has also urged the fire company to consolidate with nearby fire companies.

He said he has been threatened for eight months.

“What they've made up about me is unbelievable,” he said.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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