State College

Open Harris Township seat likely will wait for vacancy board

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The Harris Township Board of Supervisors will likely not appoint a new member until after the March 9 regular meeting, according to the township manager.

Supervisors met Wednesday for a special session to interview four candidates to replace former supervisor Christopher Lee.

Lee was indicted on federal charges of child exploitation and child pornography in October and is incarcerated in Columbia County. He formally resigned Feb. 9.

The board was unable to come to a decision Wednesday, with two candidates — Frank Harden and Bruce Lord — receiving equal support.

By law, the board has 30 days to fill Lee’s seat, Chairman Nigel Wilson said during the Feb. 9 meeting, putting the deadline at March 9. If the township can’t find a replacement within that time, the vacancy board must find someone within 15 days after that deadline.

The appointee will serve until the end of 2015, he said.

Township Manager Amy Farkas said Thursday that she had consulted with the township solicitor, Patrick Fanelli, about whether the vacancy board can step in now or if supervisors must wait the full 30 days.

“We have to wait the 30 days,” she said. “The vacancy board technically can’t convene until March 10.”

Farkas could not say for sure if supervisors planned to revisit the issue on March 9 and come to a decision then.

The vacancy board consists of former township supervisor Cliff Warner, she said. If the board needs to intervene, a special meeting will be held with Warner as chairman. Motions will be entertained, and he will provide the tie-breaking vote.

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