FARRELL SCHOOLS Court to fill vacancy

The board asked for court help after being unable to agree on a candidate.
MERCER, Pa.-- Any registered voter in the Farrell Area School District interested in filling a vacant school board seat has until Feb. 21 to send a letter of interest to Mercer County Common Pleas Court.
It will be up to the court's three judges to pick a successor to the late Rose Marie Branca, a 26-year veteran of the board who was elected to another four-year term in November but died Jan. 1.
The remaining eight school directors were unable to pick a replacement and petitioned the court to handle the chore.
Peter Morrin, court administrator, said letters of interest along with a r & eacute;sum & eacute; should be sent to his office no later than 4 p.m. Feb. 21.
The court will schedule interviews the following week and appointments should be made immediately, he said.
Tie vote: The school board had four applicants for the job show up at a special Jan. 28 meeting called to interview candidates and select someone to fill Branca's seat until the next municipal election two years from now.
The vote came down 4-4 with half of the board voting for Branca's daughter, Brenda Branca of Indiana Avenue, who said she was seeking the post to honor her mother's memory, and the other half supporting Sadie Benham of Emerson Avenue who had actually run for the office last year.
Those supporting Branca said she should get the appointment as a tribute to her mother.
Those backing Benham said she took the time to run for the office and lost the primary election by a single vote. She then launched a fall write-in campaign but lost that bid by 300 votes.
The school board took just one vote and, realizing that none of its members were willing to change their positions, decided to ask the court to make an appointment.
The court isn't required to select any of the people interviewed by the school board for the nonpaying post but could pick any registered voter in the district, which includes Farrell and Wheatland.

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