New Castle News

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May 1, 2012

Neshannock supervisors reconsider manager post

NEW CASTLE — The Neshannock supervisors have not decided if they will hire a new township manager.

Craig Altman, one of nine applicants, was hired March 21 and resigned effective April 16.

The supervisors meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the township building.

Supervisor Ed Stevens, who had pushed for the post, said he expects to “evaluate, assess and discuss” the next step. “Then we’ll determine what we’re going to do.”

Supervisor Joe Gierlach, who has continually voted against the position, said he still believes it is not needed.

An attempt Monday to reach chairman Ralph Sheen was unsuccessful.

Stevens said he believes further discussion is warranted.

“I know how Joe feels,” he said, “But this is worth talking about.”

Stevens said the position “is long overdue” and necessary “if we want to move forward.

“It was created as an apolitical position,” he said. “That person would be accountable ... to the three supervisors who make policy. I still think this is a good move for the township.”

Stevens pointed out the supervisors, who run businesses or work elsewhere, don’t have time to handle day-to-day functions of the municipality.

He added he would like to hire someone with marketing and government experience, but understands those candidates can command $90,000 to $120,000 salaries. The $40,000 the township is offering, he said, “might be attractive to a young, energetic person starting a career. Hiring someone is not as easy as people think.”

He said Altman served for only a short time, but showed him what can be expected. Altman worked on a township website, repairs to the Pearson Park gazebo, replacing an ice rink compressor and improved communication.

“I think we — supervisors and department heads — have communicated better in the past few weeks,” Stevens said. “We don’t have to agree on everything but at least we have to communicate.”

Stevens said he would like to reopen the application process, adding he has been contacted by other people.

He also said he would consider continuing “as is” if that is what the other supervisors decide.

“I’m only one of three votes. This is a big decision and a lot to consider.”

Gierlach said he is “looking out for the taxpayer and saving their money” by opposing the position.

John DiCola Jr., former public safety director and township supervisor, “was like a manager,” he noted. “The township grew successfully for years, but the other two didn’t want him in that position.”

Several applicants have professional experience and deserve a second look, Gierlach said, if Sheen and Stevens decide to hire a manager.

Gierlach also said he would be interested in filling DiCola’s safety director post.

“I have experience in economic development and management and was road master.”

Information on Altman, provided by the township after the New Castle News made a right-to-know law request, included his letter of interest, submitted Jan. 31.

It contained his employment history, experience and education, and an employment application.

On one form, Altman identifies himself as a 1987 graduate of New Castle High School. On the application — dated March 27, a week after he was hired — he checked “high school equivalent.”

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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