The longtime Barr Township solicitor has resigned because of conflicts with the new board chairman.

Now, supervisors find themselves advertising to replace William Barbin, a Johnstown lawyer who has been advising the township on legal matters since 1984.

Barbin said spats during the past year with Supervisor Vincent Rietscha pressed him into his decision.

“Last year, something got crazy,” Barbin said, adding that Rietscha was in the minority of his fellow supervisors, Roger Duman and John Brawley, who often outvoted Rietscha on various issues.

Brawley did not seek re-election last year, and Giles Dumm won Brawley’s seat for a six-year term in November’s election.

“(Rietscha) is now the chairman, and I don’t think I could do the job that the township deserves, working with him as the chairman of supervisors,” Barbin said.

Rietscha did not immediately return telephone messages left at his residence Tuesday.

Barbin said only the most recent year of service has been difficult in Barr Township.

“People on both sides felt there were no boundaries of civilness in dealing with each other,” Barbin said. “My life is too precious to go through that kind of bickering and fighting.”

Barbin added that he only remained as solicitor in 2005 because he “was not sure what would have happened (to township business) if I hadn’t stayed.”

Despite his personal friendship with Dumm, Barbin said he will not reconsider his resignation.

Duman asked Dumm at Monday’s reorganization meeting to try to sway Barbin to stay before supervisors officially advertised the vacancy.

“I’ll talk with Bill this week before we advertise,” Dumm said at the meeting, adding that Barbin had served the township well through the years.

Duman agreed, saying it is unfortunate for the township to lose one of the region’s experts on local government.

“Bill is more knowledgeable on township law than anybody else in this area,” Duman said.

“We ask him a question and, if he doesn’t know the answer, he knows exactly where to go to get it.”

He said he appreciated Barbin’s direct answers as well.

“He tells (supervisors) the way it is,” Duman said.

“Even if we didn’t like what he said, I will always respect him for making sure we took his advice.”

Duman said residents have voiced concerns about Barbin’s departure.

“A lot of the township people have already asked me why he doesn’t want to stay around,” Duman said. “It’s sad, because we’re losing a gifted attorney.”

Supervisors passed a motion to advertise for a solicitor, and anticipate appointing a replacement at their February meeting.



Julie Benamati can be reached at 532-5050 or jbenamati@tribdem.com.

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