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Blairsville Borough council hires new police chief

by SAM KUSIC skusic@indianagazette.net on March 26, 2013 11:00 AM

BLAIRSVILLE — The former sheriff and district magistrate of a county in West Virginia’s northern panhandle has been chosen to lead Blairsville Borough’s police department.

During a special meeting Monday, council hired Michael Allman, 58, of Brooke County, as chief, appointing him on a 5-0 vote. Councilwoman Mary Ugoletti was absent.

His salary was set at $55,000.

Council President John Bertolino said Allman brings with him an impressive set of credentials.

He succeeds Chief Chris Thompson, who abruptly resigned in 2010 after spending about six months on the job. Since his departure, Officer Jill Gaston has been leading the department as officer in charge.

Allman’s hiring concludes a search that began last summer.

Reached by phone this morning, Allman said he brings to the table 37 years of law enforcement experience and a degree in criminal justice from West Liberty University.

His career, he said, began in 1974 as a patrolman in the town of Bethany, W.Va. Within two years, he was named chief of the small-town department, but eventually left for a job as a Brooke County sheriff’s deputy.

Allman said he worked his way up the ranks and eventually was named chief deputy. Following that, he ran for sheriff, and was elected twice.

Allman said he also served as a Brooke County district magistrate for close to 16 years. But, he said, his heart remained in police work, so he stepped down last year to look for a job in the field.

He said he learned of the opening in Blairsville through an advertisement and applied.

Blairsville, he said, reminds him of his hometown, Wellsburg. He added that he intends to live in the borough and has already begun searching for a new home.

Allman said he intends to unofficially begin his duties this week.

Bertolino said Allman was one of 27 people who applied for the job. Four were interviewed.

In naming Allman, council passed over Gaston for a promotion.

Bertolino said council did not interview people who didn’t meet certain basic criteria, which included five years of command experience and a bachelor’s degree.

Gaston has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is investigating.

She did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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