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Manns named to fill Chambersburg Council vacancy

May 11, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A retired police sergeant was appointed Monday night to fill a Chambersburg Borough Council vacancy in the Third Ward, but the selection process came in for some criticism.

A committee made up of Council Vice President Robert Wareham and council members John Redding and Elaine Swartz unanimously recommended that Glenn K. Manns, of 332 Suelinn Drive, fill the seat vacated April 23 by Carl Helman, who moved out of the borough.

In a vote by the full council, they were joined by Ruth Harbaugh, Allen Frantz and Sharon Bigler. Councilman Ken Gill abstained and Council President William McLaughlin and Councilman Allen Coffman were absent.

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The committee picked Manns over Kay Landman, whom Helman recommended as his replacement, and Harold E. Curtis, of 1152 Hollywell Ave., who also submitted a letter of interest. All three were interviewed by the committee last Wednesday, Wareham said.

Borough Secretary Tanya Mickey informed the council she received a petition with 293 signatures supporting Landman, 61, of 232 S. Main St., a nurse and former business owner. The petition stated the signers preferred a representative "who resides in the center of our ward."

Despite that, only two Third Ward residents, including Landman, were at the meeting. Manns and Curtis were not present.

Manns will be sworn in at next week's council meeting.

Wareham said a draft of a standard procedure for making an appointment to the council included a list of questions, suggestions for evaluating applicants and a point system.

"We spent a lot of hours coming up with this ... so the council can use it as a tool in the future," Wareham said.

One aspect of the point system drew criticism from Mayor Thomas Newcomer and Bigler.

Newcomer called it "somewhat absurd" to give an applicant zero points for a high school diploma and 25 points for an advanced college degree. He said the previous council president, Bernard Washabaugh, did not have a college degree.

"I agree with the mayor on the education part," Bigler said. "I know a lot of people with advanced degrees that are really stupid," she said.

Borough attorney Thomas Finucane said it is the responsibility of the council, not a committee, to fill vacancies.

"You don't want to discourage members of the community from participating," Finucane said.

"What prepares anyone for this job?" Newcomer asked. "Carl Helman recommended someone he felt represented himself as well as the people of the Third Ward."

The last time a former council member's recommendation was rejected, Newcomer said, was two years ago when he became mayor. He recommended Peg Hollar to fill his council seat, but the council appointed Harbaugh.

The draft of the document offered for use in making appointments asks applicants to list their strengths and what they see as qualities needed to be a successful council member. It also lists observations to considered such as whether a candidate was overly nervous, inappropriately dressed "or otherwise did not make a good impression."

The council did not formally adopt the procedure.

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