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Ford City seeks volunteers to fill vacancies

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By Tim Karan
Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

FORD CITY — Borough Council is seeking several volunteers to fill positions on committees.

During a special meeting on Monday night, council said that three members of the planning commission — Tim Bennett, Christopher Dilick and Robert Welch — tendered their resignations on April 18. Although no reason was given, Mayor Marc Mantini said the public meeting was not the appropriate venue to discuss it.

“These are important positions,” said Mantini. “The planning commission is involved in coming to the borough (council) with the citizens' input. When people resign en masse like this, questions need to be asked.”

Council secretary Lisa Bittner said the commission, which meets once each month and is comprised of unpaid volunteers, only has two of seven seats filled.

Councilwoman Kim Bish made a motion to advertise the open positions to interested residents.

“We need people who give a flying hoot about what happens to this town,” said Bish. “Some people really don't. All they want to do is complain and they don't want to contribute.”

Councilman Jerry Miklos said the problem doesn't lie in finding volunteers but in providing support from the borough council.

“I've heard comments over the past year that council has not been very accommodating in terms of providing guidance, guidelines, rules, regulations or informational literature (to the planning commission),” said Miklos. “I think some of these people (who resigned) felt rather alienated and left out there hanging. If we're not going to support these people, then advertising for these positions is an exercise in futility.”

Still, the motion passed, and the borough is seeking volunteers.

In addition, council is looking for residents to serve on the sewage authority. Councilman Eugene Banks said he was asked by authority president Terry Tokarek to fill one of two empty seats on the five-person committee. Although the motion was made to appoint Banks, it initially failed to get a second. Miklos said filling the position with a council member was symptomatic of a larger problem.

“If we can't get people to serve, maybe it's time to start talking about disbanding the authority and taking the savings we may realize,” he said. “If we can't get citizens to run the authority, then maybe we need to get a professional. Maybe we can look at hiring a borough manager to take over this borough in all functions.”

Council president Lou Vergari said that discussion should occur at another time.

“We have a vacancy now and we have a man willing to fill that vacancy,” he said.

Bish eventually seconded the motion to appoint Banks to the authority, and he will fill the five-year expired term previously held by Ryan Cosgrove.

Miklos said, “I think it's truly a shame that we don't have more citizens with a little more fortitude to step up and serve the community they live in. I'm hoping people will get interested in serving on these committees.”

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