Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Changing of the Guard on Tap in North Coventry

Photo by Evan Brandt
Matt Deichert, who will be the officer-in-charge when Chief Robert Schurr officially retires next month. He is standing here after being introduced to the audience at Monday night's township supervisors meeting.

The times they are a-changing in North Coventry Townshipp.

Two long-time employees are hanging up their hats.

Township Manager Kevin Hennessey and Police Chief Robert Schurr have both submitted their retirement papers.

During Monday night's supervisors meeting, chairman Jim Marks said the supervisors have narrowed the number of applicants for Hennessey's job to four.

All four candidates will be interviewed by the supervisors on Friday, March 6.

As for the new chief, that decision has not yet been made, said Marks. In the meantime, officer Matt Deichert will be the department's officer-in-charge, with an eye toward making him the chief, Marks said.

With Deichert's promotion creating a vacancy, the supervisors agreed to promote part-time officer Stephanie Vitali to full-time, and to seek a part-time officer to fill her position in the shift.

In other police business, the supervisors voted to approve a settlement with officer Jesse Smith, currently a part-time officer, who previously worked as the township's canine officer.

Smith filed a labor complaint saying he was due overtime wages for time spent caring for the canine. Hennessey said previous practice had been to provide a vehicle and pay gas for the canine officer, but Smith's complaint was based on recently decided labor law.

Hennessey said even if Smith had only been granted a dollar, legal fees could have surpassed $50,000. Instead, the township agreed to pay $10,000 in Smith's legal fees, $7,500 in back pay and $7,500 in damages.

The supervisors also agreed to award a 1 percent merit pay increase to 13 non-uniform employees, including Hennessey, above and beyond the 2 percent pay raise provided in the new year.

Thirteen was also the number of people who stood up and urged the supervisors to adopt a resolution provided by Fair Districts PA volunteer Patricia Rooney.

The resolution calls for the creation of a citizens panel to draw the legislative districts after this year's Census is complete. The districts drawn up by the legislature after the previous Census, widely recognized across the nation as being among the most gerrymandered, were ultimately thrown out by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which re-drew the districts for the most recent election.

But those districts will expire after the new Census and those in the audience worried that the legislators would once again draw districts using partisan voter data.

The supervisors thanked those who spoke, but took no action.

And with that, click here to read the Tweets from last night's supervisors meeting.

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