Charleroi mayor not liable in doomed fundraiser

November 1, 2012

CHARLEROI – The Charleroi mayor is not liable for losses incurred in a benefit concert for the old Coyle Theater she is working to restore, a local judge has ruled.District Judge Larry Hopkins ruled Nancy Ellis did not need to pitch in to cover the $7,346 shortfall the concert experienced last month because of poor ticket sales, court records show. Ellis did not sign the contract to hire the performer.Walter Stelma Jr. filed the civil action after losing money in the Oct. 22 performance by Aaron Kelly at Stockdale Fire Hall, the record shows. He claimed the concert committee’s other three members each contributed $1,469 to cover the expenses. Kelly finished fifth in the ninth season of the popular television show “American Idol.”“She feels she is not responsible,” Stelma stated in his lawsuit.The other committee members are identified in the case as Charleroi Councilman Paul Pivovarnik, Michelle Tegtmeier and Walter Stelma III.Ellis has led the charge to raise money to restore the old burlesque house later converted into a movie theater at 311 McKean Ave. Eventually, the building dating to the late 1800s, was purchased by Mid-Mon Valley Cultural Trust. The trust raised enough money to stabilize the building, but is running out of time to raise matching money to collect on more than $400,000 in grants approved for the project.Ellis said Thursday she has received legal advice to not comment on the outcome of the case because Stelma has 30 days from Hopkins’ Oct. 25 ruling to appeal it to Washington County Court. Walter Stelma Jr. could not be reached.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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