By William K. Alcorn
The Mahoning County Board of Development Disabilities has a new superintendent effective Sept. 1.
After a nearly one-hour closed executive session at the end of its meeting Monday, the board hired William Whitacre, director of adult education at the Portage County Board of Development Disabilities since September 2009, to lead the Mahoning County program.
Whitacre, 43, of Roots-town, will earn at least $104,000 during each of the three years of his contract, with a potential maximum of $135,000 annually.
Whitacre replaces Larry Duck, who after five months of paid administrative leave from his $120,636-a-year job as board superintendent, resigned in March receiving a $111,317 severance package that included six months’ pay, cash for sick leave and personal days and six months’ paid health insurance.
On the day it put Duck on paid administrative leave, the board commissioned an employee-satisfaction survey in which board employees expressed dissatisfaction with their senior management but satisfaction with their jobs and immediate supervisors.
At the time, Duck said “the comment I’ve heard from so many people that worked under me is I’m firm but fair, and I certainly have never mistreated the staff.”
The same resolution that approved Duck’s severance package thanked Duck “for his loyal services to the board” ... and wished him “well in his future endeavors.”
When the board announced Whitacre’s hiring, the employees and others in attendance, gave the decision a round of applause.
Whitacre was among 15 applicants for the position. The top three included George Gabriel, workshop director for the MCBDD since 2002; and Kristine Hodge, MCBDD acting superintendent while Duck was on paid administrative leave and assistant superintendent before that, a job she continues to hold, officials said.
Other benefits in Whitacre’s contract include four weeks vacation and four personal days per contract year, neither of which may be carried over from one 12-monthly period to another; and accruing of 4.6 hours of sick leave per each 80 hours of service. There is no limit on accumulation of sick leave.
Whitacre thanked the board on behalf of himself and his family for hiring him.
“I look forward to a new day for MCBDD,” he said, adding he hopes to change the culture of the agency in a positive way establish positive relationships with the staff and the county commissioners.
The commissioners appoint five of the MCBDD members, and the other two are appointed by the county’s probate court judge.
Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti said she and the other commissioners are “happy” with the new direction for the agency.
“He [Whitacre] comes with compassion and dedication. He is someone fresh coming in to evaluate the program. I believe he will be transparent with the board,” she said.
Whitacre graduated from Crestwood High School in Portage County, attended Youngstown State University and earned bachelor and master of social work degrees from the University of Akron.
With a $26 million annual budget, the MCBDD serves about 1,200 county residents with developmental disabilities.