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Westmoreland

New Stanton to keep volunteer rec board but needs new members

| Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, 4:48 p.m.
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Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
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A board of volunteers will still run recreational programs in New Stanton after the reorganized borough council declined to override the outgoing mayor's veto Tuesday night.

Council had voted 4-2 on Dec. 19 to repeal the ordinance creating the rec board, which oversaw the borough's youth softball, baseball, holiday activities and picnics. The borough was seeking a paid, part-time staff member to oversee the rec programs, and council would take over those duties until someone was hired.

Outgoing Mayor Nick DeSantis vetoed the vote a few days later, but after the new mayor and council members were sworn in Tuesday they declined to even vote on whether to override that veto. That meant that the old rec board could remain in place, although all the previous members had quit in the wake of council's vote.

Alan Wagner, the former president of the rec board, said he wasn't interested in returning after the way council treated him, and after speaking to the other board members, neither were they. There were five members on the nine-seat panel when council voted to dissolve it; all had left their resignation letters with the borough the night of the vote.

“My feeling is, when are they going to try to do something to us again?” Wagner said. “I love the kids of the whole program; that's not why I resigned. I resigned because of the council. ... We thought we were ambushed and stabbed in the back.”

Wagner noted that the rec board also organized community service and fundraisers for needy people in and around the borough, and members often spent their own money on activities without seeking compensation.

Instead of overriding the mayor's veto, council introduced a more incremental reform of the board by reducing the number of members, who will still work alongside a paid borough employee, said Councilman Scott Sistek.

Borough Manager Jeff McLaughlin said council would advertise an amendment to the rec board ordinance reducing the number of members from nine to five and giving each seat a one-year term. That proposal will be voted on at a future meeting.

Although Sistek had supported eliminating the rec board, he said he was still happy that council was moving ahead with some reforms.

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

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