Share This Page

Melville becomes Derry Council chief on 4th vote

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

It took four attempts and a break for an executive session, but Derry Council finally agreed on Monday on a new president — veteran council member Kristine Melville.

The third time was the charm for Melville, who failed to gain sufficient votes when she was nominated twice earlier in the meeting. She eventually garnered support from all but one of her fellow council members — John McCreary, whom she has replaced in the leadership role.

Three other councilmen — Vice President Jim Byers, Chuck DeRito and Joe Morton — previously had opposed Melville as president. They finally joined Jim Ritenour and Chad Fabian in voting for her after council emerged from a 24-minute executive session that was called to discuss personnel issues related to the borough zoning officer.

After Melville's first nomination failed, DeRito suggested that Byers assume the role of president. Byers, who was chairing the meeting at that point, abstained, and Mayor David Bolen broke a resulting 3-3 deadlock by voting against Byers assuming the leadership position.

Melville and Byers initially got into a sharp exchange when Melville questioned the council vice president's qualifications to take over as president.

Melville faulted Byers, who chairs the public safety committee, for not acting sooner to initiate talks for a new borough police contract. “It took you six months to be able to negotiate,” she said. She chided Byers for not knowing that the acronym PEMA stands for Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

“I would prefer to have a head of council who knows what they're talking about,” she said.

“What was the rush?” Byers asked concerning police negotiations. He noted officers are continuing to work under their previous contract, which expired in December, while efforts continue to pin down a new labor agreement.

Later in the meeting, borough solicitor Lee Demosky reported that “things are going along well” with the contract talks and said borough negotiators planned to meet with police representative Sgt. James Friscarella to “take one last stab at working things out.”

Melville said she planned to join Byers in meeting with Friscarella.

In support of his bid for the president's seat, Byers acknowledged that he wasn't familiar with some acronyms such as PEMA, but he said he hoped to “clean the town up, bring more business to town and keep taxes where they're at.

“Whether I'm going to be a good president, only time will tell,” he said, adding, “The people of this town will let me know,” based on whether they elect him to another term on council.

After the executive session and the change of heart that resulted in Melville assuming the president's post, Byers was deferential to Melville. He asked if she wanted him to continue as vice president.

“Jim, you're OK to stay,” she replied, indicating she would soon hand out new committee assignments.

Commenting on his decision to end his term as council president, McCreary said he had always intended to serve just one year in the post and then allow others on council to have a turn in the leadership role.

Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or jhimler@tribweb.com.

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.