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Benchoff named to Washington Township board

November 23, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - There was little surprise among most of Paul Benchoff's competitors Tuesday night that the Washington Township Supervisors picked him over them to fill the seat vacated by James Kirby.

Benchoff said he was not surprised that he won the appointment.

"I knew I had two votes, but I wasn't sure of the third," he said.

Benchoff served as a supervisor for 18 years until he stepped down two years ago.

Board members Arthur Cordell, Stewart McCleaf and Richard Mohn Jr., on a McCleaf motion with a second by Mohn, voted to appoint Benchoff to serve out the remainder of Kirby's term, which ends Dec. 31, 2007.

Supervisor Chris Firme cast the opposing vote although he did not come up with a nominee of his own.

Cordell and McCleaf tried to run Benchoff's appointment through at a meeting earlier this month without following the township's historic process of holding public interviews with candidates. Firme managed to talk his colleagues into going the interview route.

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Cordell and McCleaf said at the time, echoed again Tuesday night by McCleaf and Mohn, that the board needed a member with Benchoff's experience because two newly elected supervisors were being sworn in in January.

Mohn said at the time that he "needed more time" to make a decision, a problem he didn't have Monday night when he seconded McCleaf's motion.

Benchoff's appointment followed 10-minute interviews with eight applicants, including two other former supervisors, Shirley Grove and Dorsey Dick.

The other candidates were Robert Correll, Kathy Shaffer, Lori Frantz, Elena Kehoe and Craig Welterlen.

The interviews and voting were held in open session.

Each candidate opened the interview with a brief biography followed by questions from McCleaf, Mohn and Firme. Their questions covered areas of growth and whether or not the township should be building Washington Township Boulevard, a relief route around Waynesboro that is already under construction.

Supervisors-elect John Gorman and Carroll Sturm sat in on the interviews. They could ask questions but were not allowed to vote.

Grove said after the meeting that she felt that Benchoff came to the interviews with three votes in hand.

"There were a lot of good comments, especially by Elena Kehoe and the new gentleman (Welterlen)," she said.

"Surprised? No," Frantz said. "I would have been shocked if they picked someone else."

Kehoe said she was not surprised by the outcome.

The supervisors came under fire in recent weeks from residents angered that they were not following township custom in appointing board members.

One resident, Wayne Fry of 13529 Old Mill Road, called the supervisors' action "sneaky," and urged them to appoint someone "who represents the people."

Supervisors earn $65 a meeting for up to 50 meetings a year.

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