By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
Publicly declaring their intention to donate county land to the Upper Neshannock Watershed Authority, Commissioners Matt McConnell and John Lechner said there’s no need for Commissioner Brian Beader to worry about the loss of the sewer project at the Interstate 80/Route 19 interchange.
Beader, who announced his intention to resign his county post, said he wouldn’t leave until he was certain plans for infrastructure improvements to the area often referred to as “the gravel pit” were well underway and couldn’t be undone. He said he considered his vote on the decision to donate the land for the plant “crucial” because he thought McConnell might vote against it.
Beader was absent from the work session Wednesday morning when McConnell asked Lechner to formally announce the board’s support to donate up to 12 acres at the interchange.
“I want to publicly declare that I support it. We’ll see an improvement of two municipalities. There will still be some costs the county will incur as we tap the jail into the new system but I think it’s important the county work with municipalities for the economic development part of this,” McConnell said.
“So if Brian was waiting for this, well it’s over. We support it. He can resign then,” McConnell said after the meeting. He said he disagreed “philosophically” about whether the county should be in the business of purchasing land and trying to develop it, but said he wasn’t on the board when the “gravel pit” was purchased.
“But I certainly don’t have one issue or a problem with donating it,” McConnell said.
He asked the county’s solicitor, William Madden, if all the necessary paperwork could be done in time to vote on it at the April 24 meeting.
“We want to fast track this thing and get it done,” Lechner said.
He also said the plant only needs between three and four acres, but he would like “to allow for future growth, looking down the road as far as possible.”
Beader, who has been a commissioner for 10 years and has a little more than 18 months remaining on his term, said he has asked for a private meeting with the county’s three judges on April 24 to discuss his resignation.
Once he resigns, the Mercer County Democratic Committee, chaired by Charles “Chaz” Rice, will begin interviewing candidates and will make three recommendations to President Judge Thomas Dobson, who will appoint Beader’s replacement.