WELLSVILLE - That the untimely death May 8 of police Chief Joe Scarabino is still being mourned in this small village was evident Thursday as a crowd gathered outside the police department to dedicate a flagpole and American flag in his honor.
Donated by the Wellsville Veterans Memorial Council, the flag and flagpole was erected on the sidewalk just outside the police station door, and in dedicating it to Scarabino, council president Don Brown called him "a great officer and a great gentleman" who he said is greatly missed by many.
Emotions ran high as his family members, his officers and others shared their memories of the chief who served the past 14 years until his death.
Scarabino's wife, Cindy, thanked those who attended, saying, "Joe loved his police officers. Even when he was so sick, he was always so worried for his guys. He loved being a police officer. He did it selflessly. He always wanted to keep the peace. He did his job well."
His sister, Donna, said her brother "never hesitated to help one single soul in this village."
Nick Amato, Scarabino's brother-in-law, thanked Brown and the Memorial Council for the donation on behalf of the family, while mayor's secretary Jennifer Soldano said, "I love and miss him with all my heart," and retired sheriff's Deputy Kenny Biacco said, "I've never known a better officer."
With tears streaming down his face, Scarabino's second in command, Lt. Ed Wilson, said, "The whole time Joe was sick, I never saw (him) shed a tear. He said we'd be OK. What's going on needs to stop. It needs to stop."
Wilson was apparently referring to the current controversy over choosing a replacement for Scarabino, which has been the fodder for debate in council chambers, with some accusing Mayor Susan Haugh of wanting to name the village's drug task force officer to the position, rather than Wilson, which she has denied.
Although council members Diane Dinch and John Morrow were among those at the dedication ceremony Thursday, Haugh was absent.
Just as guests began gathering for the ceremony, Haugh was in her office, finalizing an advertisement for local papers announcing that applications for the position of police chief are being accepted until 12:01 p.m. June 13.
The ad noted that applications must be obtained from her office or by emailing a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
She said she hopes to have someone in place as soon as possible and that council must approve the person she selects. Haugh said she plans to choose the person who is the "best person for Wellsville."