Robinson in Washington County hires new manager
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Robinson, Washington County, is experiencing leadership changes.
Less than a year after the township hired its first manager, the job has changed hands.
Also, Supervisor Russ Dysert has resigned, but the two other supervisors have refused to ratify his departure.
Supervisors fired Richard A. Ward from the manager job on July 17 and hired Michael E. Behrens as the full-time manager and zoning officer at $43,000 a year.
Mr. Behrens, 54, is a retired police officer and former zoning and code enforcement officer for Washington, Pa.
"I accept the challenge and look forward to serving the [Robinson] community," Mr. Behrens said this week.
Mr. Ward said supervisors would have to provide an explanation for his dismissal.
"All I can say is I was told they were going in a different direction," Mr. Ward said in a phone interview. "Obviously, I wasn't happy about it."
Brian Coppola, chairman of the supervisors, said he was unable to publicly discuss the reasons for firing Mr. Ward, who was an at-will employee without a contract.
Mr. Ward has resigned from the planning commission, the advisory board he has chaired the past four years. Supervisors are expected to consider the resignation during their meeting Monday.
Mr. Ward has lived in Robinson for 17 years. He previously worked as a retail manager, a federal intelligence agent and was a member of the Air National Guard.
Mr. Coppola and Supervisor Mark Brositz approved replacing the manager. The third supervisor, Mr. Dysert, has not attended a township meeting in about five months.
Mr. Dysert, whose six-year term is about halfway over, submitted a resignation letter several months ago, but the board so far has refused to accept it.
"We're hoping he'll change his mind," Mr. Coppola said.
Mr. Dysert said in a phone interview Aug. 1 that he doesn't plan to return. He cited a lack of time because he has accepted a job as a football coach at Fort Cherry High School.
"I can't do both," Mr. Dysert said. "I turned in a [resignation] letter, and I haven't heard anything since."
Supervisors gleaned manager candidates from resumes that had been submitted when the township originally advertised for the job last year, Mr. Coppola said. Mr. Behrens was recommended by McDonald police Chief Mark Dorsey, whose department patrols Robinson.
Mr. Behrens, of Washington, said he's a state-certified building code official and a property maintenance inspector certified by the International Code Council.
He has been a part-time code enforcement officer for East Washington since 2009 and continues to serve in that post.
He attended the Pennsylvania Police Academy in Greensburg and worked as a police officer for eight years in Tampa, Fla., before joining the Washington police department, where he worked from 1979 to 1995 and achieved the rank of corporal.
He was granted a disability retirement and then served as the city's full-time code enforcement officer from 1996 to 2010. During that time, he briefly worked for Beaver Falls.
Supervisors hired Mr. Ward as manager in August 2011, largely to handle an influx of Marcellus Shale-related projects, including natural gas drilling sites, processing facilities and pipelines.
Mr. Behrens, who started work July 18, does not have prior experience inspecting Marcellus Shale facilities but has a firm grasp on zoning and code enforcement issues, Mr. Coppola said.
"He was able to step right into the job," he said.
First Published August 9, 2012 5:06 am