CLARION - The way has been cleared for former Clarion County District Attorney Mark Aaron to become a Clarion County deputy sheriff.
Last week the Clarion County Board of Commissioners voted 2-1 against hiring Aaron. Commissioner Wayne Brosius voted in favor of hiring Aaron. Commissioners Ed Heasley and Ted Tharan voted against the hiring.
At a Tuesday (Jan. 21) work session, Tharan said, "Row officers have the full authority to hire whomever they want, period. The vote last week was mainly an acknowledgement of what he (Munsee) is doing," said Tharan. "It is a good idea to vote to acknowledge so that it is in the public record.
"Hirings, firings, retirements and similar things should be in the record for future use. Anything we vote on goes into the docket book."
Heasley added, "He (Munsee) has to do it so long as there is a position available."
Brosius, chairman of the board of commissioners, explained, "It was really just a public acknowledgement. We should have had it under public announcements."
As reported in the CLARION NEWS last week, Munsee said, "I'm in a bind with a full-time opening and no one interested in taking it.
"Mark came to me and said he would like to take the job and I'll be honest, he said he needed the (health) insurance."
Munsee pointed out the county-paid health insurance would not be available to Aaron until at least May 3 if the hiring was approved with an effective date of Feb. 3.
Nor, Munsee said, would Aaron be "sitting in the office twiddling his thumbs."
Munsee said Aaron would be a uniformed deputy sheriff and would perform routine duties such as serving civil papers, transporting prisoners and other duties.
Aaron is not Act 120 certified, but Munsee said the former district attorney does not need to be to start the job.
"But he does have a law degree, he has 20 years of criminal prosecution experience. He knows the law," said Munsee. He has taught various classes, he has done many, many public presentations on many, many public safety topics."
Munsee also addressed the issue of Aaron's county retirement benefits.
"He would be making a whopping 12 dollars and one penny an hour," said Munsee. "I don't think that's going to make much difference in his retirement."
Aaron told the CLARION NEWS he was never approached by the board of commissioners about the vacant public defender's position, adding it would not make sense for him to accept that position at this time.
"It just wouldn't be practical right now," said Aaron. "I would have a conflict of interest with every case filed before Jan. 1, 2020."
Aaron said he intends to open a law office in Clarion and practice criminal law.
"But due to the potential conflicts, it wouldn't make sense to start for a while," said Aaron. "Also, it's not feasible to take my pension until I reach full retirement age later this year."
The commissioners will take no further action on the hiring, leaving the way clear for the sheriff to add Aaron as a deputy sheriff effective Feb. 3.