MetroParks screening committee to send recommendations to judge

By Jordyn Grzelewski


The committee charged with screening candidates for the Mill Creek MetroParks board will forward its recommendations to Mahoning County Probate Judge Robert N. Rusu Jr., who will make the final decision about who will fill an open seat.

The eight-member committee Wednesday interviewed eight people for the spot, which was vacated after longtime board member Dr. Robert Durick opted not to seek another three-year term after his last term expired Dec. 31.

Of the 13 people who applied for the spot, the screening committee interviewed Anthony Bettile of Canfield; James Callen of Mineral Ridge; Jeff Harvey of Salem; Thomas Frost of North Jackson; Frank Martin of Youngstown; William Adams of Austintown; Francisco Nolasco of Youngstown; and James Frost of Boardman. The committee interviewed each person for 15 minutes, then privately discussed each applicant.

Retired Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas A. Swift, the screening committee’s facilitator, said the group hoped to send five recommendations to Judge Rusu for consideration. Judge Rusu then will schedule interviews with each person.

“Everybody that has applied has indicated that the park is their passion. They love the park. Most of them are frequent users of the park,” Judge Swift said. “I was impressed at how knowledgeable all of the applicants have been.”

Judge Rusu, who by state law is the appointing authority for the park board, created the screening committee structure last year as a way to incorporate public input into the appointment process.

The committee represents a broad swath of interests, with members ranging from a former park board member to the head of the park foundation to an anti-fracking advocate. A new member, Yvonne Mathis, former director of communications and public relations for Youngstown City Schools, joined the committee for this round of vetting.

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