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Borough manager protests dismissal

October 18, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Borough Manager Thelma J. Ambrose said she was "railroaded" and a borough councilman said he was kept "out of the loop" when the council, following an executive session this week, terminated Ambrose's job.

The only official comment came in a press release that said the council "terminated the employment of Borough Manager Thelma A. Ambrose effective immediately during its regular monthly meeting Oct. 14 for failure to adhere to council's management policies."

Council President Brooks Harryman said Friday he had no time to discuss Ambrose's dismissal. He referred questions to the press release.

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Ambrose said she has worked for the borough for nine years, first as a billing clerk, then administrative assistant before being appointed borough manager in June 2001. Ambrose was paid $32,000 a year.

She said she went to the meeting Tuesday not knowing her job was ending.

"They gave me no reason. I was never reprimanded and always got good reviews," she said.

Ambrose said the borough's books were always in the black.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm still in shock," she said.

Councilman Roger Defibaugh said he had not been told that Ambrose's job was coming up for discussion until the council voted to go into executive session for personnel matters.

"No one told me anything about it. I was kept out of the loop and I'm on the personnel and finance committee," he said. "They all knew about it but me."

The members came out of the executive session and voted to fire Ambrose, Defibaugh said. He said he voted no because he felt the council did not follow proper procedures.

"I'm going to raise the issue. They may have violated the state's sunshine laws," he said.

Defibaugh said Ambrose had received good job evaluations.

Councilwoman Michele Quattrociocchi said the office duties are being "divvied up" among current employees.

Steven Mellott, who was hired in July as a parking ticket clerk, said he has been appointed interim borough secretary and zoning officer.

Quattrociocchi said there was no connection between Ambrose's termination and a flap she was involved in last winter in which she was accused of unauthorized use of a police radio. Ambrose said she believes that incident had a lot to do with the loss of her job.

The incident involved a fight outside a local bar in February. Two local police officers responded. Ambrose, who was there that night, called 911 for backup on a police car radio and was told several times by the dispatcher to get off the radio, according to police reports.

Quattrociocchi said the council would take its time recruiting a new borough manager.

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