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Connellsville appoints legal counsel for Ten Commandments issue

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By Rachel Basinger
Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 1:26 a.m.

Connellsville Area School Board members agreed on Wednesday night to appoint Andrews and Price LLC of Pittsburgh as special legal counsel in the legal battle over the Ten Commandments monument located near Connellsville Junior High.

While there were a few dozen people who attended the board meeting to show support for the monument, Jeff Zito of Apollo was the only individual who spoke during public comment.

Zito told board members he read of the issue in the newspaper and was facing the same issue in New Kensington, which is near his hometown.

“You might say it's just a monument, but if you let a secular organization win in our own hometown, what will happen when they come back again — and they will,” Zito said.

“I'm here in the opposition of the removal of the Ten Commandments monument.

“If you decide to fight and allow them to take you to court, realize that these battles have been won before,” he added.

District Solicitor Christopher Stern said they are in the throes of litigation.

“The board already voted not to take any action or to change the status quo,” he said. “Right now we're preparing a response and we're determining what our insurance coverage is and appointing legal counsel.

“At some point — no longer than 60 days from the date the lawsuit was filed — we will file a response,” Stern added. “If we don't respond, we lose.”

The lawsuit was filed on Sept. 26.

In other business, directors agreed to add a parcel of property owned by Bernard J. and Katherine Wolfe of 112 Robbins St., Connellsville, to the list of properties eligible for the 2012 homestead-farmstead exclusion under Act 1 of 2006.

Directors also agreed to change a five-hour position to a four-hour position at Bullskin Township Elementary School.

Under personnel, directors approved the supplemental contracts of senior high audio-video director Adrianne Jordan-Egnot at a salary of $1,903 and Gayle Cuneo as director of the Elementary All-Star Chorus at a salary of $1,990 as well as Elementary All-Star Chorus accompanist at a salary of $1,592.

Directors also approved Mariah Wyman, English; Kathleen Williams, Miki Martucci, Susan Pritts and Amy Beaken, nurse; and Ashley Tucholski, emergency and nurse.

Alyssa Dye was approved as a long-term high school math substitute for the first semester of the 2012-13 school year. Melissa Saveikes was approved as a long-term junior high business/computer substitute for the 2012-13 school year.

Stephanie Lewandowski, Lori Dropik, April Orndorff and Andrew Spargur were all approved as long-term elementary substitutes for the current school year.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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