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Game Commission makes early switch, Martone relieved of board seat

| Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, 8:21 p.m.

One Pennsylvania Game Commissioner's career has come to an abrupt end.

Ralph Martone of New Castle was relieved of his position on the agency board Thursday morning by Gov. Tom Corbett.

Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni said that decision was made simultaneously with the Governor's nomination of Jim Daley of Butler to represent District 1 on the commission.

District 1 includes Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango and Warren counties.

“Upon that nomination, Mr. Martone was thanked for his service,” Pagni said.

Martone suspects things aren't that simple, however.

Commissioners serve eight-year, unpaid terms. They're typically allowed to serve six months beyond that or until a successor is named. Martone's term officially ended in mid-October.

Martone's being let go early, with what he called no prior warning, makes him an exception.

He said he asked if he could attend the board's next meeting, set for Jan. 25-27, because there are several controversial items on the agenda. One calls for limiting the state's mentored youth hunting program; another for creating a user permit required of hikers, mountain bikers, snowmobilers and horseback riders using state game lands.

Martone has opposed both proposals and said he suspects that might be behind his dismissal.

“There was some intention here. I can't tell you more than that. But it's very suspicious,” Martone said. “As you know, this is not the norm.”

Martone's absence will leave the eight-member board one member short for at least its January meeting, if not longer.

Daley — a longtime volunteer hunter education instructor and director of environmental services for Novel Geo-Environmental, an engineering consulting firm involved in the gas industry — must be approved by the state Senate after going through a waiting period.

It will be at least “a few weeks” before he might be confirmed to the Game Commission board, Pagni said.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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