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New Stanton recreation board may be saved from repeal

| Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, 12:48 p.m.
Nick DeSantis
Nick DeSantis

New Stanton's outgoing mayor has given a reprieve to the borough's volunteer recreation board, but it could be temporary if council overrides his vote at Tuesday night's meeting.

Nick DeSantis, who didn't run for reelection and will be replaced in January by Ron Echard, a retired county employee, said the veto was his last act as mayor.

“I wasn't going to make my last official act to dissolve the rec board,” he said. “The way the whole thing was handled was unprofessional; wasn't respectful at all.”

Council voted 4-2 Dec. 19 to repeal the ordinance creating the volunteer rec board, and is seeking a paid, part-time staffer to run the borough's recreation programs. The current board members would be dismissed and council would take over their duties until a staff member could be hired.

DeSantis vetoed council's vote, so council must either leave the rec board as-is, reintroduce a bill in the New Year with similar goals, or override the veto with at least five of the seven council members' support.

“I believe it is a waste of taxpayer dollars to create a position to run a recreation program when there are volunteer citizens willing to perform the tasks,” DeSantis wrote in his objections to eliminating the board. “If council did not think the volunteer citizens are able to perform the duties to their satisfaction, I believe a concerted effort to assist the volunteer citizens in reaching council's goals should have been executed.”

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.

Tuesday night's reorganization could further complicate whether the council overrides DeSantis: Raymond Strosko and Joshua Bennett will replace Brandon Clawson and Dean Clark. Clark was one of the four votes for getting rid of the rec board; Clawson had been absent.

DeSantis did not run for reelection; Ron Echard will be sworn in to replace him at Tuesday night's meeting.

“We'll have a new mayor, two new council members... I'd hate to even make an assumption as to what would happen,” said Council President Scott Sistek, who lost to Echard in the race for mayor but won reelection to a council seat. “Unfortunately, when you get a controversial issue that comes up during a change in council, this can happen.”

Sistek said he favored getting rid of the rec board as part of a “change in direction” for the department, but he didn't say whether he would put a motion to override the veto on Tuesday night's agenda.

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

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