By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
The Mahoning and Trumbull county American Red Cross organizations are expected to merge this summer.
“We’re excited about it. We’ve been in discussions for a while and talking to people to make sure it works for the entire Mahoning Valley,” said Atty. Charles Wern III, chairman of the Trumbull County Red Cross Board of Directors.
A new name for the organization has not been selected yet. The new operation will have its combined headquarters in Warren at 661 Mahoning Ave. NW.
Bob Hannon, president and chief professional officer of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, is a member of the steering committee that is interviewing candidates for director of the merged chapters.
Seventy applications were received, which the steering committee pared to 10. About six will be interviewed, he said.
Hannon said the plan is to have an new director on board within a couple of months.
“We fund the Red Cross significantly, and from the United Way perspective, we think this a really good thing that will result in more effective services,” he said.
Wern said: “Consolidations are sometimes a necessity. I’m sharing my time to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible.”
The makeup of the combined board and who will head it are still being worked out, Hannon said.
W. Russell Preston, long-time executive director and chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Mahoning Chapter, said he would retire. Christina Gargas, head of the former Trumbull/Mercer, Pa. Red Cross, was out of the office and not available to comment.
Previously, the Trumbull and Mercer chapters had been merged, Hannon said. That relationship will be dissolved.
The Warren facility was selected for the combined operation because it is owned by the Red Cross; the Boardman facility at 8392 Tod Ave. is rented.
It is not known if jobs will be lost because of the merger.
“We are looking forward to a new and great relationship between two well-established chapters with great volunteers and great professionals that have been highly successfully separately and will be even more successful combined,” said Atty. Ned C. Gold Jr., a member of the Trumbull Chapter Board since 1972.
Lou Joseph, chairman of the Mahoning Chapter Board of Directors, did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment.