By Elise Franco
A strategic plan is necessary to ensure the Austintown Senior Center can sustain itself into the future, its new executive director said.
James Henshaw, 70, of Petersburg, Ohio, beat out 74 other applicants and was appointed to the position Thursday during a special meeting of Austintown Township trustees.
“The foundation for this center was laid by the people here today,” he said. “It’s going to be something I’ll build upon and make better for the residents.”
Henshaw, a Youngstown native, said during his first month on the job he plans to do three major things:
Identify what resources the center has available.
Determine what programs people want.
Establish a long-term plan.
“We have good people and a good facility,” he said. “We need a long-term plan to be able to meet the needs of these seniors in Austintown.”
That goal was a main reason Henshaw was chosen for the position, said Trustee Jim Davis.
“He said we need to start planning now for later, which was an answer that no one else gave,” Davis said. “Jim shined throughout the whole interview process.”
In November, residents approved a 0.5-mill senior- services levy that will fund the center by raising $309,202 each year for five years.
Henshaw will work 28 hours per week at $16 per hour. His pay, along with that of Activity Director Kay Lavelle and Activity Aide Bruce Ricker, come from levy funding, said Davis.
Lavelle, who also works for the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department, will make $12-per-hour part time, and Ricker will make $9 per hour and work no more than 20 hours per week.
Both Lavelle and Ricker began volunteering at the center when it opened in October 2010 and were appointed to paid positions during Thursday’s meeting.
Levy money also will be used to pay costs accrued during the initial expansion of the center, as well as to pay the rent, Davis said.
Because the Westchester Building, where the center is located, is township-owned, rent will be paid to the township and go back into the parks-department fund.
Walter and Rhea Terlecky donated the building to the township in 1996 asking that net proceeds from the building’s lease be used for parks and recreation in Austintown.
Trustee Lisa Oles, who spent five months in a volunteer role as interim executive director, said the board couldn’t be happier with its new hire.
“We’re elated to have a director who exceeded our expectations,” she said.
“He’ll be a perfect fit for the senior center.”