Commissioners should use former director as standard
Mahoning County commissioners should not hesitate to reopen the application process for director of the recycling division if the five applicants for the job don't meet the standard set by the board of commissioners in 1999 when they hired Timothy B. Berlekamp.
At the time, Commissioner David Engler was so impressed with Berlekamp's credentials that he called him a "heavy hitter." That's the criterion the current commissioners, David Ludt, John V. McNally IV and Anthony Traficanti, should use in evaluating the applicants for the position that would pay between $55,000 and $65,000, depending on experience.
Berlekamp, who took over the Mahoning County Solid Waste District after serving as director of the Ottawa/Sandusky/Seneca County Solid Waste District, resigned in September to become director of planning and business development for the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio in Columbus.
It is significant that this time, the qualifications required to fill the position are more demanding than when Berlekamp was hired.
The new director must have a bachelor's degree in management, environmental studies or related field and a minimum of eight years' experience in solid waste management with at least five years of progressive levels of responsibility.
In 1999, the requirement was a minimum of five years' experience in solid waste management -- in addition to the education. There was no reference to progressive levels of responsibility.
The five applicants, James R. Petuch, James G. Jerek, Theodore M. Dunchak, William J. Butcher and Dennis C. Fitzgerald III, have varying backgrounds, but at first blush none appears to meet all the requirements established by the commissioners.
Petuch and Jerek are from Boardman, Dunchak from Canfield, Butcher from Salem and Fitzgerald is a Masury resident.
Commissioners Ludt, McNally and Traficanti will review each individual's qualifications, schedule interviews and probably make a decision next month.
Given that there is an interim recycling director, Harold Moore, who did not apply for the top position, the commissioners do not have to rush to judgment. Prior to Moore's appointment, John Cox, who had served as the recycling division's assistant director for five years, was tapped by the previous board of commissioners, made up of Ludt, Edward Reese and Vicki Allen Sherlock, to serve as director on an interim basis.
Reese wanted Cox to be given the position permanently, but Ludt and Sherlock wanted an open application process.
Cox resigned at the end of last year for health reasons.
We objected to Cox's being promoted without a nationwide search. As we said in an editorial in September, "It may well be that five years after his political appointment to the position of assistant director, Cox is knowledgeable enough about the operations of the Mahoning County Solid Waste District office to serve as the chief, but that does not mean his credentials should go unchallenged."
Likewise, the credentials of the current five applicants must be weighed against the qualifications established by the commissioners. The requirements for the job must not be lowered in order to facilitate the immediate hiring of a director.