Supervisors spar over Kirby replacement

November 03, 2005|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - An attempt by Washington Township Supervisors Art Cordell and Stewart McCleaf to appoint former Supervisor Paul Benchoff to replace James Kirby on the board failed Wednesday night for a lack of votes.

The motion to appoint Benchoff, an 18-year board veteran who stepped down in 2003, was made by McCleaf and seconded by Cordell.

Supervisor Chris Firme opposed, saying he wants the board to follow its usual route of seeking applications from interested citizens. Supervisor Richard Mohn Jr. said he wanted more time to make a decision.


Some 20 residents attended Wednesday's workshop, many of whom demanded that the board go through the application process.

Several vehemently opposed the move to appoint Benchoff, who was at the workshop.

Pat O'Connor of 8264 Lyons Road urged the supervisors to appoint a search committee. She wants it to include John Gorman and Carroll Sturm, the unopposed candidates in Tuesday's general election for township supervisor, and either Firme or Mohn.

Wayne Fry of 13529 Old Mill Road, said he heard talk among township residents that avoiding the application route "is a sneaky, crummy, nervy way" of picking Kirby's replacement.

McCleaf said Kirby, who was not present, asked Benchoff if he would be interested in taking his place on the board.

Fry told the board to "appoint a supervisor who represents the people..."

Richard Aughinbaugh of 11653 N. Landis Ave. said of the supervisors, "You guys aren't representatives, you're dictators."

Vernon Fox of 13723 Harbaugh Church Road wants the supervisors to appoint a woman. He said women make up half of the township's population.

McCleaf, in response to audience charges that others, including Township Manager Michael Christopher, asked Benchoff to serve, said only Kirby approached Benchoff.

"Some of you are so paranoid you think it's all crooked, but it's not," McCleaf said.

Cordell said he gave the idea of appointing Benchoff much thought, that it would be in the township's best interest because of his past board experience.

"He would be a great asset," Cordell said of Benchoff." He knows the area and he knows the people. It would be a smooth transition.

"I count 20 of you here tonight," Cordell said of the people in the audience.

For those at the meeting who oppose Benchoff's appointment, there are three people in the township who believe he's the best man for the job, he said.

At that point, McCleaf moved for Benchoff's appointment. Cordell seconded.

Firme opposed the motion calling for applications. Mohn said he needed more time to decide. McCleaf's motion tied on a 2-2 vote.

"We owe these people here the application process," Firme said. He made a motion to seek applications. Mohn seconded and McCleaf supported the motion.

Cordell said no.

The deadline for interested citizens to submit applications is Nov. 11.

It was agreed among Firme, Mohn and McCleaf that applicants will be interviewed at the board's Nov. 21 meeting. The vote will be taken that night or at a Nov. 30 workshop.

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