Category: Ford City

Interim Borough Manager Lands Permanent Position in Ford City

Eden Ratliff was introduced as an intern following a special community meeting to discuss whether a new water plant should be built. He was hired as Interim Borough Manager in May before being hired as Borough Manager last night. (KP File Photo)

by Jonathan Weaver

Ford City Borough’s interim top administrator is now here to stay.

Following an at-least five month search, Interim borough manager Eden Ratliff was formally hired by Borough Council members 4-1 Monday evening.

Councilman Gene Banks was the only present member of Borough Council opposed to the promotion. Councilman Scott Gaiser was absent.

“I’m very surprised – I did not think that I would be in this position, Ratliff said. “However, I’m extremely thankful to be put-in-place as the Borough Manager of Ford City.”

Ratliff thanked council members during his meeting-ending comments

“I believe that Ford City has a very bright future. There are a lot of opportunities this borough has,” Ratliff said.

Councilman Josh Abernathy was first to congratulate Ratliff for his efforts so far and wished him luck on upcoming hurdles.

Council President Kathy Bartuccio has grown to know Ratliff both personally and professionally since his internship appointment in March. Some of his attributes include being creative and trustworthy.

She said they hoped Ratliff would interview for the job.

“I couldn’t say enough about him,” Bartuccio said.

Ratliff – who oversees at least eight employees – was hired as Interim Borough Manager in May, and will be paid nearly $35,000 annually based on his current wages.

Borough Council first entertained a motion by Councilwoman Vicki Schaub to hire a different candidate at a rate of $55,000 per year. She later voted against hiring the candidate, who had borough management experience – as a majority of council members also did.

Schaub later motioned for Ratliff’s appointment.

More than a half-dozen resumes were submitted by June, according to Department of Community and Economic Development Local Government Policy Specialist Michael Foreman. At the work session, Foreman said applications were to have been accepted until August. He hoped a borough manager was indeed hired by October.

Schaub explained that nine applicants were given via number, with four council members surveying them.

“We didn’t know the names on the applications,” Abernathy said.

Councilman Jerry Miklos added that council members did not know the names on each resume until face-to-face interviews were conducted. He was pleased with the hiring process DCED laid out and the help Foreman provided.

“I’m personally very pleased with the hiring process because I think it did what we expected it to do – which was to take local politics out of the hiring process,” Miklos said. “I’m pleased this Council was willing to do that; somewhat of a switch from the way we’re used to hiring here in Ford City.”

Ratliff is a confirmed special guest for tonight’s “Talk of the Town” weekly show on Family-Life TV. The show begins at 8PM.

During his report, Ratliff said that maintenance and administrative tasks are piling up in the municipality.

“We’re doing well, but we’re very busy this time of year. We’re getting ready for snow, yet we’re still looking at grass that needs to be cut, so it’s an interesting transition period,” Ratliff said. “At times, we’re becoming overwhelmed. There’s a lot of work to do, but we continue to move forward despite the challenge that may present.”

Overtime hours – including painting curbs to restrict parking – were allotted this past month.

Ratliff earned a master’s degree in employment and labor relations from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Council members also committed themselves to the DCED Early Intervention Program – a program designed to help keep municipalities from filing for Act 47.

Bartuccio, who signed a resolution and application to enroll, said the five-year financial management plan will cost up to $7,000. Aid money is available to help fund the process.

Miklos explained three consulting firms bid to assess all borough capacities. A final firm was not voted upon.

In response to a resident concern, Miklos said the program is to prevent bankruptcy.

“I think that’s always a possibility – it depends on how the borough is managed and how we spend money here,” Miklos said. “The purpose is to prevent that from occurring. I think it is potentially very valuable information that could help.”

“It’s a proactive approach to making sure everything is stable,” Abernathy said.

An executive session was held to discuss the Early Intervention Program October 7.

A personnel executive session preceded the meeting and lasted until about 6:30PM

Surveys have been sent to residents in the 700 and 800-block of Fourth Avenue due to Ford City’s attempts to pave portions of the roadway utilizing Community Development Block Grant funds.

Local children will be able to dress up as their favorite characters and trick-or-treat from 6-8PM Wednesday, October 29. The annual Halloween parade will be at 7PM the next day.

Mayor Marc Mantini and council members approved the resignation of Police Officer Bryce Foreback. Mayor Mantini thanked him for his service and called him hardworking.

Ford City Council President Kathy Bartuccio reads a resolution to enroll in the Early Intervention Program Monday evening.

Future of Ford City High Still Under Question

Ford City Planning Commission members Cody Atherton (left) and Tyson Klukan (right) talk of what should be done with Ford City High after it closes in August with Borough Councilman Gene Banks last night.

By Jonathan Weaver

Time is ticking away before Ford City Junior-Senior High closes its doors.

In August, students will attend the new Armstrong Junior-Senior High School in Manor Township and the local school since 1909 will be vacant.

Ford City Borough council members discussed holding a public meeting with the different options available in July 2013, and in August 2013, the school was approved by the Armstrong County Commissioners to preliminarily become a possible Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone (and allow 10 years of tax-free status to incoming businesses).

Members Tyson Klukan (a 2010 Ford City graduate) and Cody Atherton ( a 2013 Ford City graduate) agreed that a Planning Commission meeting should be held with Armstrong School District school board members and Armstrong County officials

“I think the meeting needs to be scheduled sooner-rather-than-later because we have eight months until school will end, and we need to know the County’s plan, the school district’s plan and our plan of attack,” Klukan said. “We need to blend all those plans into a funnel.”

Even though Klukan received interest converting the building into a borough community center, Klukan thought the structure would be too much of a burden on taxpayers.

“It’s going to cost millions and millions (of dollars) to update that building,” Klukan said. “They make great points, and I value their opinion, but we need a cost analysis of everything.”

Both members and Council member Gene Banks agreed that they do not want the building to turn into low-income housing.

In other business, discussions are also still going to continue with Parks and Recreation Committee members on a potential skate park in the area of the 7th Avenue playground.

Committee member Stacy Klukan was invited to last night’s meeting. She said local skater Cody Heilman and five other teenagers were interested in the park to take children and teenagers off the streets and away from the risk of drugs

“These boys were all excited and were very serious,” Stacy said. “If we all work together, we can get it done.”

Bikers and skaters currently utilize a concrete path near the Ford City clock tower along 3rd Avenue, but members questioned if it is indeed owned by Ford City Borough.

Atherton asked about consolidating the town’s four parks rather than building the 3-5,000 foot space due to insurance liability concerns.

“We’re in a crunch – there would have to be some more investigating,” Atherton said. “It’s historically quite-costly. Kittanning Council shut it down because there was too much of a cost.

“There definitely needs to be more for the youth of the borough to do, but is this really what we want? Why don’t we get something everybody will use and not just a select few?”

Klukan said there has been interest in a skate park being built in town off-and-on for more than two decades – since 1993. He said there are similar risks in other parts of the Borough – including along the Rails to Trails and in other parks.

Calls have been made to skate parks in Florida and Bellevue in the City of Pittsburgh for research.

A zoning hearing will be held Wednesday, October 16 regarding the new Dollar General’s application for an illuminated sign at the former-Spagnolo’s Foodland along 5th Avenue. A new parking lot and sidewalks are to be built before that store opens.

It was the first meeting for Atherton as a new member.