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January 18, 2013

High court OKs magisterial district revisions

EBENSBURG — Two Cambria County district judges’ seats will be eliminated at the end of this year, the state Supreme Court ordered this week.

Pennsylvania’s highest court, in the unsigned order, approved the realignment of the county’s 10 magisterial districts as proposed last year by President Judge Timothy Creany during the required review of the districts following the U.S. census every 10 years.

The districts of Max Pavlovich, whose office is in Richland Township, and Charity Nileski, who has an office in Cresson Township, will be eliminated effective Jan. 1. The areas covered by those two districts will go to other district judges in the county.

Pavlovich will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 this year and would not have sought re-election. Nileski, who is up for election this year, chose to retire instead, even though she could have served one year until she reaches 70.

District Judges John Barron of Upper Yoder Township and Rick Varner of Sidman will end up with portions of Pavlovich’s district and some of the Barron-Varner areas will be spun off to neighboring district judges.

The realignment will split the large municipality of Richland Township along the Bedford Street-Elton Road line. The southern portion will go into Barron’s region and the northern to Varner’s.

Barron’s office is expected to be moved into the East Hills area from the West Hills because of the realignment,  county court administrator William Valko said. Varner’s office will not be moved.

District Judge Galen Decort, whose office is now in Portage Borough, will move into Nileski’s office, and his district will pick up much of her area, Valko said.

Creany announced the realignment plan in February and then held public meetings on it before it was submitted to the state.

He said Friday that with eight districts, the police and public still can be served with minimal inconvenience while resulting in some costs savings. The district judges’ salaries – currently $86,639 – are paid by the state, but salaries of the  magisterial clerical staffs and rental costs for the offices are paid by county taxpayers.

With the realignment, the work of each district judge should be more equally divided, Creany said.

“It will bring our (workload) numbers into better parity,” he said.

In looking at whether to eliminate any office, Creany took into consideration the county’s loss in population as well as the directive from Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille to look at reducing the number of district magistrates because of budgetary constraints.

The 2010 census showed the county’s population dropped 5.8 per­cent, to 143,679 residents from 152,598.

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