Merits of retire/rehire for county 911 director debated at public hearing

By Ed Runyan


The Trumbull County human-resources director recommended during a public hearing Wednesday the retire and rehire of Ernie Cook as county 911 director.

Mary Williams of Cortland, local school board member and Republican candidate last fall for county commissioner, argued against it, saying she “always locally fights retire/rehires.”

The county commissioners said they will take the matter under advisement and decide later.

Richard Jackson, hired as HR director last August, said he supports Cook’s receiving his police pension and keeping his 911 director paycheck because it won’t increase the county’s cost and because Cook is “doing a good job.” Cook earns $80,816 annually,

Jackson said Cook currently gets six weeks of paid vacation. After his retire and rehire, he would get only two.

“The 911 center also enjoys good working relationships with the various Trumbull County safety forces” under Cook, Jackson said.

Williams, a member of the Lake-view and Trumbull Career and Technical Center school boards, said she only believes in allowing someone to earn a public-employee pension and a public-employee paycheck at the same time if there are extraordinary circumstances.

At Lakeview, for example, she agreed with allowing Superintendent Bob Wilson to remain as superintendent until the district’s $32 million construction project is complete in about a year.

She also asked whether the county inquired as to whether there were talented people interested in the 911 director’s job. Jackson said the county did not look at other candidates.

“To say there is no one else out there who can fill this position, I find that really hard to believe,” Williams said.

“There are people out there who work hard, and this gentleman is already retired, getting a pension,” she said. “There are folks out there who have gone through all the hoops ... they’ve got the certifications. They went to college.”

Williams said others “should have that same opportunity to pursue a career that one day they too can retire and have a nice pension in their pocket. What we are doing, in my opinion, is sheer laziness when we automatically go to a rehire without looking at other” candidates.

Cook was chief deputy with the sheriff’s office for 16 years and also became 911 director several years ago. He left the sheriff’s office about a year ago and retained the 911 job.

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