The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 4, 2013

New supervisor joins board in Portage Twp.

PORTAGE — The Portage Township supervisors held a special meeting on Monday to appoint a new supervisor. Jeff “Butch” Kostan of Spring Hill Road will fill the seat that’s been vacant since mid-January, after the passing of former Supervisor James Kovach.

The Kostan family legacy stretches back in the community for roughly 100 years.

Butch said he’s been in Portage for “church, catechism and the whole nine yards” – and he remembers when Spring Hill used to be called Old Dutch Settlement.

Currently a transportation manager for Sheetz Inc., Kostan has been involved in township matters for years, either working part-time with winter road crews or as a Mustangs Booster when his son, Jason, used to play.

“I’ve been involved in the trucking business and in management for about 20 years,” he said. “I’m very familiar with trucks and machinery.”

That experience will serve him well in his new role. Before health issues caused Kovach to drift away from the three-person board, he was directly involved in road crew management.

“When you only have two members out of a three-member board, you can’t have a quorum,” fellow Supervisor Rick Olshavsky said.

The board had a 30-day deadline, which was set to end Feb. 14, to replace its third member.

There were only two applicants for the board to choose from: Kostan and Bob Brickley.

Important criteria were business experience and an objective mindset to help smooth out the decision-making process on the previously embattled board.

“The township doesn’t have a lot of interested people because of the (perceived) tension throughout this township,” Olshavsky said.

Decisions made at the township level are important, as reinforced by Olshavsky and fellow Supervisor Ben Selapack.

But because the supervisors’ decisions widely impact a figuratively and literally close community, they tend to be divisive.

“He’s not connected to any supervisor, which is what I was looking for,” Olshavsky said. “Jeff seems to be a level-headed guy, maybe he’ll keep us both straight, right Ben?”

Selapack said Kostan’s management skills will be a big factor in his new job.

“Dealing with the public is the biggest thing,” he said.

Kostan said he’ll be getting his feet wet in the coming days and introducing himself to community leaders and officials.

“I’m going to be open-minded about everything and get more involved with the community around here,” he said.


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