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2 Fayette commissioners indicate plan to oust chairman

| Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, 10:56 a.m.

The fallout from scrapped plans to build a $32 million prison in Fayette County could cost its strongest proponent his leadership post.

The board of commissioners in Fayette County will hold a special meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday to nominate a chairman and vice chairman, according to a proposed agenda.

Chief Clerk Amy Revak received written notice Tuesday morning, signed by commissioners Vince Zapotosky and Angela Zimmerlink, to run a legal ad announcing the meeting.

Al Ambrosini, who spent two years planning the failed prison, is chairman, and Zapotosky is vice chairman.

Zapotosky would not confirm whether his intention is to remove Ambrosini as chairman.

“The county will be taking a step in the right direction on Thursday,” he said, declining to comment further.

Zimmerlink acknowledged a meeting is planned.

Ambrosini could not be reached.

The reorganization meeting will occur a little more than a week since some residents who attended a commissioners meeting called for Ambrosini to be removed as chairman. They took issue with Ambrosini continuing to plan for the $32 million Justice and Rehabilitation Center, which was scuttled by Zapotosky and Zimmerlink in favor of other options.

The bid process for the prison was about to begin when Zapotosky and Zimmerlink voted to stop it in September.

The two commissioners are pursuing an alternative plan that calls for the 125-year-old jail in Uniontown to be renovated. An addition to address overcrowding would be built on the site of the former Uniontown police station.

The old city jail is next to the existing prison, near the courthouse and city hall. It is in obvious need of numerous repairs, including the roof, which has gaping holes. The county anticipates taking ownership from the city at no cost.

Despite the board's new direction, Ambrosini has continued to meet with a Prison Working Group that spent two years planning construction.

He recently told the group he anticipates eventually breaking ground on the prison, despite having lost the other two commissioners' support. Ambrosini said his colleagues' new plans will prove more costly, in the long run, than building a new prison outside the city.

During the commissioners' Oct. 21 meeting, a number of residents called on Ambrosini to begin working with the other two commissioners on the new plan or to relinquish the board chairmanship. In light of his refusal to do either, they asked Zapotosky and Zimmerlink to oust him as chairman.

Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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