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Kittanning argues over next police chief

| Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

KITTANNING — An attempt by council to hire a new borough police chief on Monday seemed more like an April Fools' Day joke since it is still unclear who is filling the position vacated by retiring Chief Ed Cassesse.

Councilwoman Kim Fox made the motion to nominate Kittanning police officer Bruce Matthews for the position of chief of police.

The vote passed with a 5-3 majority with council President Chris Schiano, councilman Mike Rosenberger, councilwomen Betsy Wilt and Joie Pryde voting yes and councilmen Richard Reedy, Ange Turco and Andrew Peters voting no.

Reedy argued that he thought the purpose of Monday's vote was to nominate people for the position and said he had someone, other than Matthews, whom he wanted to nominate for chief.

He said it was unclear to him that the issue put to vote was to appoint a new chief that night and said he had not attended the interviews for candidates in the last couple of weeks because of poor health.

Fox said she could reword the motion to appoint Matthews for the position of chief.

However, Turco moved to table the decision until the solicitor was present.

Borough solicitor Chase McClister was absent from the meeting.

Peters agreed with Turco and also moved to table the decision.

“I knew this would happen,” said Schiano, adding that council would call a special meeting as soon as McClister was able to attend.

Mayor Kirk Atwood said in the interim, he would appoint Kittanning police officer Pete Harmon to the position of officer in charge.

Schiano told Atwood that the appointed position would only be until the vote at the special meeting determined who the new chief would be.

“The motion Kim made is off the books,” Schiano said to Betty Thompson, the borough secretary.

Even so, Reedy and Schiano continued to argue over the issue.

“We voted for a chief tonight,”said Schiano. “We can have our solicitor say what we did or did not do.”

Schiano said after the meeting that council had interviewed about 14 candidates for the chief position.

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