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New Stanton to dismiss recreation board members, hire coordinator

| Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, 5:03 p.m.
Baseball bats
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Baseball bats

New Stanton plans to dissolve and restructure its volunteer recreation board, likely around a new part-time coordinator for the rec department.

Council is seeking applicants for the recreation coordinator position and is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a "reform" of the volunteer rec board that would have council take over its responsibilities at the beginning of the year pending decisions on the board's makeup and membership, officials said.

"We've been having a hard time keeping people on the rec board," Councilman Tom Theis said. "We're not abolishing it; council will just take it over. ... We're going to thin it out and start from scratch."

Current board members will be let go, Theis said.

The rec board sponsors girls' softball and boys' baseball for children aged 3 through 18, according to its website . The board also organizes an Easter egg hunt, Halloween treats, a Christmas party and children's picnic as part of the Annual Borough Picnic.

Alan Wagner, a 19-year volunteer and current president of the recreation board, scoffed at the idea that one employee could replace the volunteers. He said there are five members on the board, though it has seats for nine.

"They think one person is going to be able to run the whole rec program, and that's not the case," Wagner said, listing the fundraising, recruiting, scheduling and maintenance that the volunteers arrange. "You name it, we volunteers do that," he said. "I've put in at least 40 hours a week on baseball alone."

Board members Monday posted a plea for support to the New Stanton Recreation Facebook page.

Borough Manager Jeff McLaughlin said the staff rec coordinator will be paid according to his or her experience and does not yet have a set salary in the budget or job description. Council may reopen and amend the budget, or the salary could come from the general recreation section of the budget. Applications are being accepted through Jan. 20, with plans to have a hire in place by February.

"The idea is to rally around the volunteers to make a better program, provide them with assistance," said McLaughlin. "It would be more like a facilitator, trying to recruit new volunteers and coaches."

The new employee would be considered part-time, though the work would be seasonal — more time in the spring and summer when sports are in full swing, possibly not working at all in November when there are no active programs or fundraisers.

Wagner said he hadn't heard anything about the vote to dismiss him and the other members until this weekend. No agendas are posted to the borough website, and the previous two months' meeting minutes have not been posted.

"I won't volunteer for them ever again," Wagner said. "They didn't tell us anything about it. You put all that time in, build a program up, and for them to sneak around the way they are, it's crooked. ... It's just a slap in the face to us."

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6660, or on Twitter @msantoni.

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