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Ondrus named to joint water authority

Published February 18. 2010 05:00PM

Former Lansford Borough Councilman and current part-time Patrolman Chris Ondrus is the newest member of the Lansford-Coaldale Joint Water Authority.

Lansford Council on Tuesday appointed Ondrus on a 5-2 vote, with Mary Kruczek and Danielle Smith opposing.

He replaces Frank Horvath on the authority for a five-year term.

The vote settled a tie that came about on Jan. 19, when councilmen Tommy Vadyak, Adam Webber and Len Kovach voted for Ondrus, but council members Kruczek, Smith and Bob Hackash opposed. Council president Bob Gaughan said he would not be voting at this time.

That left it to Mayor Ron Hood to break the tie. But Hood days later said he could not in good conscience do that because, as mayor, he oversees the police department and so is, in effect, Ondrus' boss.

On Tuesday, council again voted on Ondrus' nomination. This time, council members Vadyak, Webber, Hackash and Gaughan voted for Ondrus, with Kruczek and Smith opposing.

Kruczek protested, saying that nominations should have been made anew.

Gaughan disagreed, saying that he indicated at the Jan. 19 poll that he would be "deferring" his vote.

Solicitor Robert T. Yurchak was absent from the meeting, and so could not offer legal opinion.

Kruczek on Jan. 19 had nominated Charles Whitehead, but that proposal died for lack of support.

On Tuesday, at Kruczek's insistence, nominations were again held. Vadyak spoke first, nominating Ondrus. The subsequent vote mirrored the first.

The water authority has come under fire by Vadyak and others for the salaries and benefits paid its members.

Water authority officials, who set their own remuneration, have defended the compensation, citing their hours on the job and on call.

Lansford appoints three authority members while Coaldale appoints two.

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