UNION TOWNSHIP Officials accept police officer's resignation

A decision is near on a grievance filed by the police chief.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- One of Union Township's two full-time police officers has resigned.
Mike McBride, who was hired in January, will take a higher-paying job in Ellwood City. Township supervisors accepted the resignation Thursday.
One resident asked whether Union's police wages are comparable to those of other municipalities. Supervisor Kevin Guinaugh said they are comparable to those of similar-sized townships but that the township cannot compete with a borough the size of Ellwood City.
The resignation leaves Chief Joe Lombardo as the township's only full-time police officer. Three part-timers round out the force.
Supervisors are hiring an additional full-timer in an attempt to bring the force to almost 24-hour coverage. Although McBride's resignation will delay that goal, supervisors said they will be ready to hire one additional officer in six weeks and another one in about three months.
The field of applicants has been narrowed to 11, and a second round of interviews will begin Oct. 2, Supervisor Ralph Nuzzo said.
Supervisors also said a decision is near on a grievance in arbitration that was filed by Lombardo over a five-day suspension. Both sides must file briefs by Oct. 7, and a ruling will be made within 30 days after that.
Supervisor Steve Galizia objected to paying $11,759 in attorney fees to Thorp Reed & amp; Armstrong and $435 to mediator Donald McPherson as part of the township's preparation for the arbitration hearing.
Galizia said the township had brought the expense on itself. He was the only supervisor who did not sign the five-day suspension order for Lombardo over an alleged case of pushing at the township building.
Nuzzo responded that the township had attempted to reach an agreement but that Lombardo insisted on pursuing the grievance.
Galizia said any falsely accused employee would refuse to settle and bills are continuing to mount. He asked the other two supervisors whether they plan to appeal if the arbitrator rules against them. Nuzzo and Guinaugh indicated they probably would not.
The suspension stems from an allegation that Lombardo pushed secretary-treasurer Sally Byler in February after he was asked to leave a room at the municipal building in which a resident was complaining about the police department's handling of a case.
Nuzzo and Guinaugh tried to demote Lombardo last year.
Other business
Also Thursday, supervisors accepted the low bid of $44,798 from Phil Fitts Ford of New Castle for a dump truck.
They also agreed to ask Penn Power to install street lights on Birchcrest, where residents were paying for but do not have lights within 250 feet of their home, as well as on Pearl Street Extension, Dale Avenue, Harbor Road and Scotland Lane.

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