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Businessmen vie for outgoing Hempfield supervisor's seat

| Friday, May 11, 2012, 12:33 a.m.

A Hempfield Township supervisor's decision not to run for re-election guarantees a new face on the board come January.

Supervisor Paul Reed will step down at the end of the year, and two self-employed businessmen, Brian Melenia and John Silvis II, will square off this fall for the six-year term.

Melenia, of Feightner Road, will be listed on the Democratic ticket in the Nov. 4 general election. Silvis, of Baltzer Meyer Pike, is the Republican candidate.

If elected, Melenia said he will keep close tabs on spending so tax rates remain low.

"Wise spending is the way to go," he said. "Every supervisor should pay close attention to what's being sent out and why."

Melenia said he wants "to provide the maximum service for the minimal cost."

The owner of Melenia Hardwoods, he also is an appointed member of the township's municipal authority.

Silvis, a self-employed wholesale food distributor, cited comprehensive planning, fiscal responsibility, recreation and communication among the top issues facing the township.

He said a comprehensive plan is needed to address growth during the next five years. Hempfield and Greensburg have begun work on a joint plan, but Silvis said a professional planning organization may be needed to oversee the project.

A former township auditor, Silvis said Hempfield erred last year when its pension fund took a significant loss. He said the loss could have been averted, had the township kept tabs on plummeting stock returns and moved the money to safer investments.

Silvis said one solution is to have an elected supervisor in the municipal building daily. "We should have somebody there full time who's accountable to the public, so if they mess up, we can throw them out. Everybody's delegating authority, but nobody's watching the store."

No elected supervisor is available at the municipal building full time. A professional manager tends to daily tasks and reports back to the board.

Silvis said recreation is another concern. He said supervisors have yet to decide how to spend the remaining portion of a $5 million bond issue taken out for a recreation center. Plans to build the recreation center have since been nixed.

A former two-term school director, Silvis said the township and Hempfield Area School District should coordinate planning for recreation needs. For that to occur, he said communication between the two entities must improve.

In general, communication between the township and other segments of local government needs improvement, Silvis said. He said he wants to build "rapport between all segments of local government."

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