Commissioners said a strong background in housing was essential.
By ROGER G. SMITH
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Hands-on housing experience is what set apart the choice for director of Mahoning County's lead-control program, commissioners say.
On Thursday, commissioners hired Phillip Puryear of Youngstown, the city's housing rehabilitation director, to fill the lead director's job.
Puryear will be paid $55,000 a year, said Commissioner Anthony Traficanti. He made $49,000 as the city housing rehabilitation director.
Puryear will replace Gary Singer, the lead program's director, who retires Sept. 30. Singer was paid about $85,000, Traficanti said.
Other candidates had strong backgrounds in lead health and management, but Puryear had the best housing experience, commissioners said. Puryear also has been a city housing code enforcement officer, housing inspector and contract monitor.
"Phil's been there and done that," Traficanti said.
Commissioners said Singer was consulted in the job search and highly recommended Puryear, said Commissioner John McNally IV.
McNally, a former city law director, said Puryear's knowledge of federal regulations, contracts and even smoothly relocating people temporarily while their homes undergo rehabilitation will serve him well.
"He's aware of a lot of things that are important to citizens," McNally said. "It's going to be a huge benefit."
Puryear also is a licensed lead contractor, supervisor and risk assessor. All were requirements for the job within a year of hire, which the other candidates didn't yet have.
Puryear lacks only a college degree among the county's stated requirements. County officials said his work experience more than makes up for the lack of a degree and wasn't a problem.
Puryear attended the College of Wooster for four years but hasn't received a degree. He said he switched majors from media to speech and hearing midway through his junior year. Credits from many core classes didn't transfer, he said. The rising cost to attend Wooster kept him from finishing the degree, Puryear said.
Commissioners said nobody should be disqualified from a job for lacking a college degree when their work experience more than makes up for that missing requirement.