Supervisors reach settlement in suit
The Mahoning Township supervisors agreed to accept the settlement in a case brought against certain supervisors a few years ago by a police officer candidate who alleged a violation of labor regulations.
The supervisors also said they needed more information regarding the settlement of former Police Chief Kenneth Barnes, who was on medical leave for most of last year before resigning in December.
"I have a pair of motions to add to the agenda," Chairman John Wieczorek said early in the meeting, but did not indicate at that time the nature of the actions. It was not until the last part of the meeting when officials introduced business items that Wieczorek stated his intentions.
"I move to accept and agree to the mutual release and settlement agreement for Maria Lesinski, which was negotiated by our attorney Mr. Christopher Gerber," said Wieczorek.
Lesinski had interviewed for a position with the township in 2011, but allegedly there were some problems with the interview process resulting in a suit against the township, Wieczorek, and Supervisor Linda Benner. The suit was filed in a federal-district court on April 4, 2013.
The board approved this motion to accept the settlement with Lesinski unanimously.
After the first motion, Wieczorek requested the board accept the mutual release and settlement agreement with former Police Chief Kenneth Barnes, negotiated by Gerber as well. Notice of this settlement only reached the supervisors in time for the meeting. They agreed to briefly discuss the settlement in an executive session. When they returned, they requested that secretary Natalie Haggerty attempt to contact Gerber to answer some questions.
Unable to reach Gerber by phone, the supervisors decided to delay accepting the settlement until their questions were answered. They agreed to return it to the agenda for consideration at the next meeting, hoping that Gerber would be able to answer their questions at that point.
Barnes brought suit against the township, Wieczorek, Benner and Frank Ruch, as well as six unnamed parties, on Nov. 9, 2012. This was preceded by two complaints about unsafe working conditions and an unsafe fuel tank to the Department of Labor and Industry (L&I). He also cited a hostile work environment.
On Feb. 14, 2012, Barnes was placed on medical leave and ultimately resigned on Dec. 20 of the same year.
The township satisfactorily addressed the fuel tank issue by installing new tanks at a cost of several thousand dollars in the winter of 2011. This past winter the supervisors, with full cooperation from L&I, erected a pole barn for the purpose of moving the road equipment out of the office building to remedy the complaint Barnes made about the building conditions.
The board expects to have enough information on Barnes' settlement to act upon it by the next township meeting on July 22.