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A hot time at the old board meeting

Published September 14. 2012 05:03PM

After repeatedly pounding his gavel and calling for calm, Panther Valley School Board President Jeff Markovich on Thursday ordered a five-minute recess for tempers to cool.

The dust-up erupted after board member Irene Genther challenged an Aug. 23 vote by Michelle Markovich to settle a new $57,654.74 contract with Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Senior Instructor Kenneth Markovich, who is her brother-in-law.

Half of his salary is paid by the U.S. Army.

At the Aug. 23 meeting, Michelle Markovich said she had checked with the Pennsylvania School Board Association to be sure she could legally vote on the pact. Michelle's husband, board President Jeff Markovich, is Kenneth Markovich's brother.

Michelle Markovich said that it was not a conflict of interest for her to vote on the matter because no money would come into her household as a result.

But Genther disagreed, saying she had contacted PSBA, and spoke with an official who told her he was unaware of any contact with Michelle Markovich.

Genther said Michelle Markovich's vote violated school board policy, and that as head of the board's Policy committee, she should not have done that.

Genther then argued with board member Anthony DeMarco, the strife escalating until Jeff Markovich called for the recess.

Genther vowed to pursue the matter, with the state Ethics Commission if necessary.

Later in the meeting, board member Roy Angst was invited by Jeff Markovich to leave the meeting if he was unhappy with the way it was being conducted.

Angst had ordered Markovich to silence board member David Hiles after Hiles brought up a dangerous situation concerning bus stops along Patterson Street (Route 209) in Lansford.

Angst said that Hiles had no right to bring up an issue that was not on the agenda.

Markovich pointed out that Genther had just been permitted to bring up a matter that was not on the agenda, but Angst was having none of it, and protested.

"If you don't like it, there's the door," Markovich said.

Angst stayed put.

Hiles told the board that bus stops should not be along the highway because of the danger to children. He cited recent experiences driving along the highway while children were waiting for the bus. They run into the street, and the crossing guard may not be easily seen by distracted drivers as she walks out onto the street with her stop sign.

A similar situation exists at the stadium, he said.

Interim elementary school principal Gloria Bowman said she received a call from a crossing guard who also is concerned about the safety of the bus stops.

Solicitor Robert T. Yurchak suggested proposing changes in bus stop locations to the borough.

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