State judge orders Bedford county conference

BEDFORD – A judge in Pennsylvania’s second-highest civil court on Tuesday ordered Bedford County’s commissioners and chief judge to meet in Harrisburg this month, as an ongoing dispute in the county government approaches a possible final ruling.

In a status conference Tuesday with both sides’ attorneys, Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini requested the fighting parties’ presence in a second meeting to be held in about 10 days, Bedford County President Judge Thomas Ling said.

Ling and the county commissioners have spent months embroiled in a dispute over county funds, with Ling seizing control of money that the commissioners insist is outside his authority. The conflict can be traced to a disagreement over canceled bonus payments to probation officers, who operate under the court’s authority.

The commissioners sued Ling in November, seeking a final legal decision on who controls the disputed funds.

Neither Ling nor the commissioners appeared at Tuesday’s meeting in Harrisburg, the first scheduled in the case.

In the upcoming conference, Pellegrini could make an initial ruling, send the case to mediation or pave the way for a civil trial.

Commissioner Chairman Kirt Morris said Tuesday that third-party mediation wouldn’t be ideal, as his colleagues have sought a clear ruling that could guide their decisions in years to come.

Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.