Unanimous vote completes shuffling of Westmoreland municipal authority board
Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County board members hired a new lawyer on Wednesday, completing a shake-up of the utility's administration.
Jeannette attorney Scott Avolio was the unanimous pick of the board to replace solicitor Ken Burkley, who was fired Wednesday after serving more than 11 years for the authority.
Avolio, who has a private law practice and works as the solicitor for the city of Jeannette, was one of six lawyers interviewed Wednesday for the position.
“It is a very successful organization and I look forward to working with it. I'm honored to be selected,” Avolio said.
Avolio will earn $120,000 a year in his new job with the authority. He is expected to receive an additional wage for work on the authority's $140 million bond issue for capital improvements, which is expected to be completed later this year.
Authority boardChairman Randy Roadman said Avolio, along with most of the other solicitor candidates, were recommended by Republican county Commissioners Charles Anderson and Tyler Courtney.
Anderson and Courtney have reshaped the authority since they assumed the majority on the board of commissioners last year.
Roadman said Avolio's political connections did not factor into his hiring. Avolio serves as the vice chairman for the county's GOP committee.
“His experience in municipal work made him stand out,” Roadman said.
Burkley is a former chairman of the county's Democratic committee and supported Democratic candidates against Anderson and Courtney.
Avolio said he would continue to work as Jeannette's solicitor, but will discontinue his campaign for Common Pleas Court judge in Westmoreland County.
Also on Wednesday, the authority board approved an extension to a contract with a gas well drilling company that officials said could generate nearly $20 million in new revenue for the utility over the next seven years.
The deal with Triana Energy will enable the company to drill up to nine wells on 1,600 acres of authority land in Springfield Township, Fayette County.
Marathon Oil in 2008 paid the authority $6.2 million to drill on that property, but to date only two deep wells have been completed. Neither are producing gas, according to authority manager Chris Kerr.
Marathon is pulling its operations off the authority's land and Triana is expected take over the drilling operations, Kerr said.
The lease extension will give the company the right to continue drilling up to nine wells through 2020. The authority will receive royalties on the gas produced at that location.
“I think it's a very good deal for the authority,” Kerr said.
Marcellus shale deep wells are currently being drilled on authority property at Beaver Run Reservoir in the northern end of Westmoreland County.
Those wells produced more than $2 million in revenue for the authority last year.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Spirit Airlines lifts fortunes of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
- Hempfield man dies in single-vehicle accident
- Land costs for New Stanton turnpike interchange project reach $4.2M
- 2 Hempfield Area students charged with sexting
- Donors’ generosity allows Clairview School girls to get fancy for prom
- Murrysville woman apologizes for scholarship fund theft
- Seton Hill student tells how Pa. Gov. Wolf’s tax plan will hurt her
- Hempfield bicyclist who brought rock, knives into court office charged
- Police seek public help with East Huntingdon store thefts
- Jeannette’s Monsour Medical Center demolition costs might go down
- 2 charged with copper theft from Greensburg house