By Ed Runyan
Lt. Eric Merkel has now scored highest on the civil-service exam for captain as well as chief of the Warren Police Department.
Merkel, who scored 9 percentage points higher than two other candidates for chief in February, has scored 4.7 percentage points higher than Lt. Robert Massucci and 8 points higher than Lt. Martin Gargas for captain.
Their scores were Merkel, 85.37; Massucci 80.7; and Gargas 77.4. Massucci and Gargas also took the chief’s test. Those scores were Merkel 83, Massucci and Gargas 74, and Capt. Janice Gilmore 72.
Merkel is expected to be sworn in as police chief in June, when Chief Tim Bowers retires, but Merkel decided to take the captain’s test in case something occurred to prevent him from becoming chief.
The Warren Civil Service Commission had hoped to certify the results of the tests for chief and captain at its meeting Wednesday, but questions about how bonus points should be applied to the scores held up the certification.
Sue Burns, Civil Service Commission clerk, said the bonus points won’t affect who becomes police chief or who gets the next captain’s position because Merkel, Massucci and Gargas all will receive the same number of bonus points for seniority.
Certification is the last step the Civil Service Commission takes.
After that, the mayor’s office conducts a swearing-in ceremony once an opening occurs. Joe Marhulik, who is in charge of support services such as dispatching, records and grant writing, is expected to retire in the next few months.
Merkel has been filling in for Marhulik in recent months while Marhulik has been on sick leave.
In other matters, Safety- Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa and Auditor David Griffing wrote a letter to the commission notifying it that layoffs are planned in the Warren Fire Department because of the expiration of its Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on May 26.
Cantalamessa said the city plans to apply for another SAFER grant in late April or early May.
Also, the city administration is “scouring the budget to see if we can find the money to keep some of” the grant-funded firefighters.
The grant enabled the department to bring back 10 firefighters layed off in January 2009 and hire 14 more, increasing its staffing from 51 to 75.
The department has been denied in recent applications for an additional grant and for an extension of time to use its current grant.
The commission also announced that it will have an appeal hearing at 8 a.m. April 24 at the city’s Data Processing Department behind city hall for Honeya D. Price. She was fired from her job as Lincoln K-8 family liaison after being charged Jan. 16 with carrying a concealed weapon and improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle for purportedly brandishing a firearm in the parking lot of Giant Eagle on Elm Road.