Former football coach fills Blairsville council vacancy
By Jeff Himler
Published: Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, 3:06 p.m.
Retired Blairsville High School instructor and former football coach Ab Dettorre has taken on a new role in the community — that of borough councilman.
Dettorre submitted the sole letter of interest to seek a vacant Second Ward seat on Blairsville's council and was approved to begin a two-year term at council's reorganization meeting Monday.
Dettorre was sworn into office by Blairsville's new mayor, Ron Evanko. Taking the oath of office for elected four-year terms were new First Ward councilman Paul Fodor and Jeff Marshall, who was re-elected in the Third Ward.
Denise Dunmire, who won an additional Second Ward council seat through a November write-in bid, did not attend Monday's session. In a later interview, she said she'd not been informed about the organization meeting and was making plans to be sworn in in time to participate in council's next regular session, set for Jan. 21.
The reorganized council also includes John Bertolino, who was selected to continue as president of the panel, and Jim Mollo, who was named president pro tem. Fodor was chosen to serve as vice president.
Dettorre is filling the seat once held by Evanko, who resigned from council in order to accept his newly elected role of borough mayor.
This past June, Dettorre retired from teaching with more than 35 years of service and also resigned as Blairsville's football coach — after a 26-year stint that included a 147-99-4 record and six conference championships. He cited “friction” and “hurdles” he'd experienced at the school district as factors in his decision to leave.
Dettorre said Monday holding a public office is “something that always kind of piqued my interest. Obviously, I have a little more time now.” While acknowledging he has “a lot to learn” as a councilman, he said he hopes to bring to the position leadership and organizational skills he demonstrated as a coach.
He added, “I'm a big person when it comes to transparency. I think that a lot of things need to be open and people need to be made aware of.”
Fodor, who works at Indiana Borough's wastewater treatment plant, belongs to the local VFW and Elks organizations.
Fodor and Dettorre both are administrative officers with the Blairsville Volunteer Fire Department, serving respectively as first vice president and second vice president. Each cited efforts to attract a grocery store back to downtown Blairsville as a top priority for the borough.
“I really want to see that grocery store for the senior citizens of this town,” Fodor said.
Dettorre also noted his concern about drug problems in the community and his desire to continue “doing good things with young people... There's a lot of great students in this community. I'd like to accentuate that.”
In other business, council approved appointments to several borough boards. Existing member Jon Herby was approved for a new term on the Blairsville Community Development Authority board along with new appointee Garvin Piper. In his letter seeking the position, Piper noted he is the owner of a downtown building and hopes to become a business owner.
For the parks and recreation board, council reappointed Curt Ramsden, who continues to serve as the borough codes enforcement officer, and also named Glenn Sheffler as a member. Borough manager Tim Evans noted Sheffler had served on the parks board years ago and wanted to rejoin the panel since his job at Latrobe's Kennametal no longer involves extensive travel.
Reappointed to other boards were: J. Wayne George, Blairsville Municipal Authority; Tom Nastase, planning commission; Joe Nease, parking authority; Polly Ringler and Leann Chaney, shade tree commission; Howard Gibbons, zoning hearing board. The borough is seeking applicants to fill two remaining seats on the zoning panel.
Also, one seat remains open on the borough civil service commission.
Officials discussed the borough's lack of a vacancy board chairman. The resident appointed to that post would join members of council in an attempt to break a tie that might occur in voting to fill a vacancy on council or in the mayor's office.
Evanko noted that, during his 18 years as a councilman, the borough never required the services of a vacancy chairman. “But you never know,” he said.
Council approved Mollo's motion to reinstate for the remainder of 2014 a policy of waiting 30 days between acknowledging receipt of an application for a board appointment and taking a vote on the applicant. The delay is meant to give council members ample time to review an applicant's credentials.
Council named Dettorre as the borough's third representative to the county's earned income tax board. Evanko will continue to serve as the first representative to the board, Evans as the second representative.
Council voted to retain Bob Bell as solicitor; Michael Allman as police chief; Remington Vernick and Beach as engineer; and Evans in his additional roles as borough secretary, treasurer, zoning officer and Right to Know officer.
Regular council meetings will continue to be held at 6 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month.
Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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