Former Rush Township Police Chief Robert Romanick was officially terminated at Tuesday night's meeting of the Rush Township Board of Supervisors, following a two-year legal battle.
The dispute began Jan. 5, 2009, when then supervisors Stephen Simchak and Shawn Gilbert voted to terminate Romanick, saying he abandoned his position by failing to accept an offered demotion to the position of patrolman.
Romanick contended he was not given proper notification detailing the reasons for his firing, required under the Pennsylvania Police Tenure Act, and filed suit in Schuylkill County Court on Feb. 12, 2009. The case was scheduled to be heard before Judge John E. Domalakes on Nov. 12, 2009, but the supervisors agreed to hold a police tenure hearing instead.
Attorney James Scallion of Lackawanna County was assigned to hear testimony and the hearing began Jan. 26, 2010 and included two days of testimony. After not hearing anything for months, Romanick petitioned the court to hold the supervisors in contempt for failing to inform him, in writing of the reasons for his dismissal.
The parties met in Domalakes' court on May 2, 2011, where certain stipulations where agreed upon by attorneys for both sides. That included the information that attorney Scallion didn't provide the supervisors with his findings until May 1, 2011. Domalakes ruled the supervisors were not in contempt, as they did provide Romanick with a proper hearing.
On Tuesday, the supervisors approved the acceptance of the findings of fact and conclusion of law as found by hearing officer James Scallion, with regard to Romanick's police tenure. According to those findings, the township established the following facts: a) abandonment or quitting his employment for leaving his position as chief of police and never again reporting for work as scheduled, b) neglect of duty/incompetence, and c) inefficiency, neglect, intemperance, disobedience of orders and/or conduct unbecoming an officer.
The motion to fire the former chief was passed unanimously.
Under other business, the supervisors made a motion to advertise the 2011 road program last night. The supervisors are including Locust Street, Lincoln Street, and Frankfort Avenue to be completely reconstructed, according to Supervisor Robert Leibensperger. The work will also include the replacement of storm drains.
The road department will be completing a new form weekly, including projects worked on, day-to-day jobs, and the status of projects due each season. Leibensperger said that this is a more "proactive approach" to getting work done and will allow the supervisors to easily keep tabs on projects. Their plan is to give the road department a list of jobs to be completed each season.
"When the list is completed, we can get them another list," said Leibensperger.
Two part-time policemen, Ryan Rehatcheck and Peter Wysochansky, were hired, on an as-needed basis, at a rate of $12 per hour.