Connellsville Community Center advisory board wants mayor's presence at meeting

| Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 8:32 p.m.

In an effort to improve communication with the city, the Greater Connellsville Area Community Center Advisory Board decided on Tuesday night to change its meeting dates to accommodate Mayor Charles Matthews.

Advisory board members could not agree on a time and date for regular meetings, so a special meeting will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday.

The mayor will be invited to attend the meeting when board members will walk through the community center to prioritize cosmetic upgrades needed at the center and to discuss changes in regular meeting dates.

Matthews suggested the advisory board members change the meeting dates to 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month because he is available to attend.

However, board member Dolly Tissue said she is unavailable to attend Tuesday meetings because of prior commitments.

“How can we determine anything without any input from the city?” asked Gary Colatch, advisory board chairman. “Nothing has changed. We have received zero input from the city.”

City Councilman Greg “Mattie” Ritch, the city's director of buildings and grounds, said the statements Colatch made are inaccurate. During a telephone interview after the meeting, Ritch said the city provided the advisory board members with written guidance at the December meeting.

“In the written guidance, the city provided the advisory board members with direction, various tasks and instructions for making recommendations to the city,” Ritch said. “We want to make it clear that this is only an advisory board. The board has no authority to hire and fire.

“Board members don't have the authority to establish their own financial accounts, but they can bring recommendations to me and the mayor, and we will take those recommendations to city council for approval,” Ritch added.

Ritch said any action that the advisory board takes involving the day-to-day operations at the community center must be approved by the mayor and city council.

“The city has supported any activity that the advisory board brought before council,” Ritch said. “Some of the advisory board members are not grasping some concepts. The mayor and I are on the same page with that.”

Although the advisory board needs to make a decision on appointing a property manager for the community center, Colatch said, no action can be taken until the board receives city council's approval.

“I am not sure what your intentions are, but if there is a position for this, I would like to apply and finally get paid for planning events,” said advisory board member Patty Firestone. “If the board has another person in mind for this position, please present it to the table.”

Colatch said the advisory board is not in a position to appoint a property manager.

“We need to clarify everything with the mayor first,” he said.

“We need someone to coordinate everything at the community center,” Tissue added.

James McIntire, vice chairman of the advisory board, said there are no plans to hire a full-time property manager.

Instead, Colatch explained that the work would be completed on a commission basis.

In other business, the advisory board:

• Announced plans to hold a flea market Feb. 2 at the community center. The doors will open at 6 a.m., and the flea market will take place from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each table will cost $15. Anyone interested in participating should contact the community center.

Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.

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