Commissioners satisfied with appointee

YOUNGSTOWN -- An Austintown man the Mahoning County commissioners hired last week for the county's lead-abatement office didn't possess all the qualifications required for the job, but the commissioners say they are satisfied with the appointment.
Last week, commissioners selected Daniel J. Martin for the lead-abatement office's assistant director/program processor. He will make $37,000 a year. Diane Seydlorsky, who resigned from the job earlier this summer to move to North Carolina, made $46,500.
James F. Petraglia, county human resources director, said five people applied for the job, which was posted in-house at county buildings from June 20 to June 28.
Petraglia, who narrowed the field to three for the commissioners to interview, was not available late Wednesday to discuss if the position was placed in area newspapers.
Commissioners said they wanted to fill the position as soon as possible because of Seydlorsky's departure and the Sept. 30 retirement of Gary Singer, the office's program director.
The qualifications for the position requires a person to have a state license for lead contractor/supervisor as well as a state license for risk assessor within one year of hire.
Among the assistant director/pro-cessor's responsibilities is reviewing all lead hazard control work specifications and bids, preparing and writing grants, and assisting the program director in planning, development and implementation of lead-abatement programs.
The knowledge and skills required for the job include at least six to eight years of experience in housing such as new construction, rehabilitation projects or other related experiences. Knowledge of lead issues is preferred, and the person must have the ability to manage and supervise personnel.
Martin's application shows he has no background in lead hazard control issues.
His r & eacute;sum & eacute; says he worked as a substitute teacher for the Youngstown school district since September 2004 and before that he was owner/operator of the Mill Creek Deli on South Schenley Avenue, Youngstown, from June 2000 to September 2004.
He has owned and maintained 25 rental units and has experience in developing property, his r & eacute;sum & eacute; says.
Martin ran for the state House of Representatives in 2000 and also was a finalist for the county dog warden's job last year. His qualifications were questioned for becoming dog warden as well, compared to others vying for that position.
He worked nine years in the Youngstown Clerk of Courts office for former Clerk Rosemary Durkin before leaving as a bookkeeping supervisor in December 1999. As supervisor, he was responsible for dealing with accounts payable and receivable and providing reports to the state and handling balance sheets.
He has a bachelor's degree in middle school education from Youngstown State University.
Other candidates
Commissioners interviewed Martin; Clyde Kemp Jr., who works in the lead-abatement office; and Howard J. Edwards, who works for the county mental retardation and development disabilities board.
Commissioner Anthony T. Traficanti said Kemp told him and commissioners David Ludt and John A. McNally IV in his interview that despite having the other qualifications, he didn't have the grant-writing skills the job demands.
Traficanti said Kemp also told them if he got the post, the board would have to hire two people to replace him.
Kemp of Youngstown has more than 13 years' experience as a housing specialist, and he currently writes lead and rehabilitation specifications for the lead program.
His r & eacute;sum & eacute; says he has worked with the lead program since its inception in 1997, and before that he worked seven years for the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority as a housing specialist.
Best applicant
Traficanti said after the interviews, the commissioners unanimously voted to hire Martin.
"He was the best applicant we felt who could do to the job. He did tell us he had some grant-writing experience when he worked for the [Youngstown] clerk of courts office and he has his degree," said Traficanti, board chairman.
Traficanti said if Martin does not perform, "he will be removed as anyone else would be."
"Those people [in the lead-abatement office] must earn their own keep," Traficanti said. "If they don't get the federal grant money, the program basically will end."
Ludt added, "We needed someone with the ability to write grants and to learn quickly. I believe he [Martin] is a quick learner. We told him he had benchmarks to meet. If he didn't, he won't be in the position long."
McNally said Martin does have previous financial background with the city, "and I thought he was very well-qualified to perform the job."
Martin will work with Singer, who wrote most of the program's grants with Seydlorsky.
Singer said the lead-abatement program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Grant significance
The office's programs are designed to stem lead-poisoning of county children, especially children in the city of Youngstown.
Singer said the office has three overlapping HUD grants in place totaling $6.5 million. Two of the grants are for 42 months each; the other grant is for three years.
The office has seven full-time workers and one part-time employee, he said.
Singer said the grants are competitive, so the county must go up against some of the country's larger cities to get them.
In fact, the county was one of only seven communities to receive the last grant -- a lead hazard control grant for $3 million for 42 months to help make housing units lead safe.
The other grants are $2.6 million reduction grant for 42 months to help make housing rental units lead free. A $900,000 grant for three years is used to help make homes safer for children suffering from asthma and other health problems.
"We have about 60 working partners throughout the county to help get the message out about lead safety and how to work in a lead-safe manner," Singer said.
Singer said he told the commissioners he would offer his help after retirement, for free, to help write grants to keep the federal money flowing to the county for lead-abatement purposes.

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