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Westmoreland

N. Irwin seeks new manager – again

Joe Napsha
| Saturday, June 2, 2018, 8:15 a.m.

For the fifth time in three years, North Irwin Borough will be looking for a top administrator to run day-to-day operations of the small town's government.

Council President Gordon P. Stoves fired Mary Swankler of Madison on May 22 without a vote by fellow council members.

Swankler said she told Stoves he was undermining her by giving directions to the assistant secretary, Lisa Gesler. Swankler said Stoves offered her four weeks of pay as severance.

“I told him there is a chain of command, with my being manager, needing to know what is being done and that I was contemplating leaving, considering I was being undermined,” Swankler said.

Stoves declined to comment, saying it was a personnel matter.

Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday at North Irwin Town Hall, during which it could vote on Swankler's dismissal.

Swankler said council did not hold an executive session to discuss her job when it met in early May.

Councilman Kenneth Galley, vice-president, could not be reached for comment.

Councilwoman Adele Nehas said Stoves did not tell her that he intended to fire Swankler.

“I was not notified. I had no clue,” Nehas said.

The entire council, not the president, should be making decisions on hiring or firing personnel, Nehas said.

Nehas had worked for the borough for eight years and was the secretary-manager in November 2015 when she left the job after council decided to abolish an ordinance that created the manager's position. She was surprised that Groves had promised Swankler a severance.

“I never got a penny,” she said.

After Nehas left as secretary-manager, council hired Season Heasley in January 2016. She left after about a month.

Swankler, a former North Huntingdon secretary, was hired in February 2016 as secretary-treasurer. She quit five months later over claims that council had created a “hostile work environment.”

Councilwoman Amy Blake agreed to be secretary-treasurer to fill the void but changed her mind.

Swankler returned in October 2016 as borough manager, remaining in the job until fired.

Nehas declined to comment on whether she would take the job if asked, and then resign from council, “‘cause nobody knows what they are doing, and everybody wants to be boss.”

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 orjnapsha@tribweb.com.

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