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Former school director will fill Palmerton council seat

  • TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Michael Ballard has been chosen to fill a vacant seat on Palmerton Borough Council.
    TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Michael Ballard has been chosen to fill a vacant seat on Palmerton Borough Council.
Published May 26. 2012 09:02AM

A former school director has been chosen to fill a vacant seat on Palmerton Borough Council.

On a 5-0 vote Thursday, council agreed to appoint Michael Ballard to the post. Councilman Jason Behler was absent.

Council Vice President Chris Olivia nominated Ballard for the seat, though he said each of the five candidates who applied would have been worthy selections.

"Everybody was qualified," Olivia said. "I think they would all do a great job."

Olivia touted Ballard's prior experience as a Palmerton Area School Board director.

"He's a former school board member," Olivia said. "He understands working with all of this stuff."

Council President Terry Costenbader added that such decisions are difficult to make.

"It's really hard when you have this quality of people to pick from, and you have to narrow it down to one," Costenbader said. "I'd like to thank all of the applicants for giving us their letters of interest."

The seat opened when former Councilman Randolph Gursky resigned after he bought a business and moved to Florida. As a result, council agreed last month to accept Gursky's resignation.

Ballard, 53, will serve the remainder of Gursky's term, which expires in Dec. of 2013.

Gursky had served on council since 2004. After he lost out on his bid for re-election in Nov. of 2009, Gursky was appointed the next month to fill a seat that became vacant when former Councilman Brad Doll resigned after being elected mayor.

Ballard, who previously served seven years on the school board, said he applied for the seat on council because he missed the opportunity to serve his community.

"I had become resigned to the fact of waiting for the next election coming up," said Ballard, 53. "A few people said 'put your name in', and I did."

Ballard said his business experience, coupled with his tenure on the school board, should enable him to succeed.

"I'm going to try to take over the seats that Randy had, so there's no disruption," he said. "I want to fill his slots."

For Ballard, the decision was an easy one.

"This is my home; my wife, Mary grew up here," he said. "That's why we're here."

Also on Thursday, council approved a new three-year contract for the borough Police Department.

Borough secretary Donna McGarry said the contract calls for salary increases in each of the three years of the contact as follows: 1.5-percent, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012; 2-percent as of July 1; 1.5-percent as of Jan. 1, 2013; 2-percent by July 1, 2013; and 2-percent as of both Jan. 1, and July 1, of 2014.

In addition, McGarry said department members will start to pay toward their medical insurance, $10 per every pay period this year; $25 per every pay period in 2013; and $35 every pay period in 2014.

Finally, council approved a resolution declaring the borough's intent to follow the retention and disposition schedule issued by the Local Government Records Committee, and authorizing disposal of certain records, based on that schedule.

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