Category: Local News

Richard G. Snyder YMCA Leader Resigns

Joely Beeker – the Richard G. Snyder YMCA Chief Executive Officer the past three years in Kittanning – has resigned (KP File Photo).

by Jonathan Weaver

A local leader resigned from her post effective yesterday.

Joely Beeker – Chief Executive Officer with the Richard G. Snyder YMCA in Kittanning the past three years – resigned the top spot according to YMCA officials.

Board President Stan Berdell said Beeker actually announced her decision to the board of directors April 11.

“She had returned from vacation and thought that she would just move on; spend some more time with her family and friends. She had a little reflection, time to think about things and (thought) ‘maybe it’s time to move on.’”

Berdell said Beeker “played a vital role” in helping the new YMCA campus thrive – such as through youth programs (such as the “Stingrays” swim team), adaptive physical activity through the acquisition of grant funds and community membership.

The Richard G. Snyder YMCA campus opened its new 27,000 square foot facility in 2012 approximately one mile further up North Water Street from the former location beside St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

“She did a very good job during that transition and helped develop a lot of nice programs at the Y,” Berdell said.

Berdell said board directors have already begun the search for a new CEO, enlisting the help of YMCA of the USA.

“They get information from the board and staff about the community, what we’re looking for and what we feel the needs are – they take that survey and formulate a job description and go out on a nationwide search,” Berdell said. “It’s quite a process.”

Board directors will discuss the opening at their next meeting and might post online for a replacement as soon as mid-May.

“(YMCA of the USA) will sift through the applicants and come up with four or five that they feel meet the criteria, (board directors) will interview them and hopefully we’ll have a new CEO by August,” Berdell said.

Until then, Berdell was confident in the “excellent core staff” still at the YMCA – including new interim CEO Bethany Riggle (formerly marketing and brand advocate) and Business Manager Kathy Booher.

“Everybody’s taking ownership of their position – it’s going to be business as usual,” Berdell said. “Programs are all continuing.”

Beeker strived to become a community advocate and collaborate with other organizations, such as with ACMH Hospital and HEALTHY Armstrong.

The last few months, Beeker has not only led the YMCA but also helped coordinate next week’s ‘Day of Giving’ – which raises money for local nonprofit organizations May 12. Berdell said YMCA leaders would continue to aid in those efforts.

Beeker, who is thought to begin a new career this Fall, was also a community stakeholder discussing the future of the Belmont Complex pool in East Franklin Township and was part of the Kittanning Rotary Club.

The local YMCA’s former Chief Operating Officer and Operations Director since 2009, Beeker originally began within the YMCA organization as an instructor and swim coach at the Tiffin, Ohio YMCA.

The search is on for a new CEO of the Richard G. Snyder YMCA following the resignation of Joely Beeker. Board member Stan Berdell expects to have a new appointment by August.

ACLU Files Suit against District Attorney, Ford City Police

A cell phone video taken during a 2014 Ford City parking dispute has led to a federal lawsuit.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit yesterday on behalf of Ford City resident Michael Gratteri – who said he was arrested and jailed after he posted a video on Facebook of his interaction with Ford City Police Officer Joshua Wilford in September 2014 over the dispute.

According to the lawsuit, the officer charged Gratteri with violating the Wiretap Act and disorderly conduct – even after Gratteri advised Officer Wilford of the recording – a month after the video was taken after receiving advice from Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi.

“I went from sitting on my deck with my family one minute to being in handcuffs,” Gratteri said in the release. “I was in shock. Even though I knew I had done nothing illegal, I was scared that I would not be able to get out of jail.”

ACLU Staff Attorney Sara Rose said documenting police officers’ official duties by audio and video recording is protected by the First Amendment and does not violate the state’s Wiretap Act.

Volunteer Attorney Christy Foreman said Officer Wilford’s actions were merely meant to punish Gratteri for posting the video.

The local charges were eventually dropped.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania has filed multiple lawsuits on behalf of individuals who were arrested for observing or recording police in the course of their public duties.

A case against the city of Philadelphia on behalf of a Temple undergraduate student who was arrested for photographing on-duty Philadelphia police officers is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.