North Franklin supervisor resigns from office, again

April 24, 2013
In a November photo, James Huff, then-North Franklin Township supervisors chairman, left, and Supervisor Silvio Passalacqua listen to the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s Michael S. Foreman speak. Huff’s resignation from the board of supervisors, his second since December, was accepted by the township’s remaining supervisors Wednesday. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The chairman of the North Franklin Township Board of Supervisors who quickly rescinded his abrupt resignation from office in December resigned again Monday, this time citing health reasons.

The remaining two supervisors on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Jim Huff and began the search for his replacement to serve through the end of this year.

“I was completely blindsided by this,” said Supervisor Dennis Dydiw, who assumed the chairman’s seat at Wednesday’s board meeting.

Huff was in his second year of his first four-year term in office when he resigned.

“As you know, I have been fighting health problems for several months,” Huff stated in his most recent resignation letter. “Well, the serious nature of my recent visit to the hospital has made me take my doctor’s recommendations and the best interest of the township to heart.”

Huff turned in his keys to the township Dec. 17 and quit that day without stating a reason, only to change his mind before the other supervisors had a chance to accept his resignation. He was then reappointed board chairman in January.

This week’s resignation was turned in two weeks after Huff and Dydiw fired the township’s business manager, Bill Boucher, who had several recent disagreements with Huff, one of which involved Boucher disputing Huff’s claims the township was going broke. Supervisor Silvio Passalacqua did not attend the meeting when Boucher was fired.

Passalacqua on Wednesday moved to rehire Boucher, but that motion failed when Dydiw refused to second the motion.

“There are so many issues here he has to take care of,” Passalacqua said. “He’s a good man. The guy didn’t deserve to be fired in the first place.”

Dydiw said Alex Migyanko, chairman of the township planning commission, has been serving as business manager in an advisory capacity.

“I’m not going to second. Alex is going to step in,” Dydiw said.

Township solicitor Dennis Makel said the two supervisors have 30 days to name Huff’s replacement, and if they cannot agree on someone, they must convene a vacancy board to name a third supervisor. The two supervisors will sit on that board with Migyanko, who essentially would break a tie.

Then, the Democratic and Republican committees will each select a candidate for township supervisor to appear on the November ballot to finish out Huff’s term.

Passalacqua made a motion that failed to draw a second from Dydiw to name former state Rep. Roger Raymond Fischer as township supervisor. Dydiw was unable to draw a second from Passalacqua to name Migyanko as supervisor.

In answering a question about the township’s finances raised by a member of the audience at Wednesday’s meeting, Dydiw said there are projections that show the township is heading into experiencing a $175,000 deficit within three or four years unless better budgetary decisions are made. The township is applying to the state to help pay for a consultant to intervene and make recommendations to deal with finances.

Meanwhile, the township will accept applications from eligible residents interested in being appointed to Huff’s seat until noon May 8 before the two supervisors again attempt to fill the position May 15.

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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