Luzerne County receives 22 applications for 3 division head jobs

By Jennifer Learn-Andes -

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Luzerne County received 22 applications for three vacant division head positions by last week’s deadline, Administrative Services Division Head David Parsnik said Tuesday.

The application breakdown, according to Parsnik: operational services, 9; human services, 5; and correctional services, 8.

The operational division head position has been vacant since Tanis Manseau resigned in October.

Acting County Manager C. David Pedri had interviewed three finalists who are still in the running, but recently attempted to widen the applicant pool by re-advertising the position at a higher salary without a past requirement for applicants to hold a Pennsylvania professional engineer license.

The operational services head — one of eight division heads established by the county’s home rule charter — oversees engineering, roads and bridges, planning and zoning, 911, emergency management, buildings and grounds and security, in addition to any county environmental or recreation projects.

The advertised salary range for this position was increased from an initial $70,000 to $85,000 to a new $80,000 to $90,000.

Human Services Division Head David Schwille is retiring Thursday and J. Allen Nesbitt’s resignation as correctional services division head took effect March 4.

The advertised salary range for both positions also is $80,000 to $90,000.

Under home rule, Pedri selects division head nominees that must be confirmed by a county council majority to take effect.

Pedri recently announced his appointment of employees to temporarily oversee two of these divisions during the search for permanent replacements.

Deputy Warden James Larson was named interim correctional services division head on April 1. A 38-year county prison employee, Larson “has shined in his management role there,” Pedri told the council in an email last week.

County Drug and Alcohol Director Michael Donahue will serve as interim human services division head starting Friday. Donahue has “consistently run an excellent department” during his county tenure, Pedri’s email said.

Pedri also named assistant solicitor Mark Makowski as interim chief solicitor effective April 1, saying he has a “‘can do’ attitude that will serve him well in this new role.” The position, which is officially the law division head, became temporarily vacant when Pedri was appointed acting manager Jan. 4.

Temporary division heads can serve up to 90 days under the charter. Due to the additional workload, Pedri has opted to pay interim division heads the same compensation received by managers who last held those positions.

Assistant solicitor Vito DeLuca had served as acting chief solicitor since Jan. 5. His compensation was increased to $90,000 during the 87 days he was chief but reverted back to his original salary of $39,884 when the temporary assignment ended, county records show.

Makowski was hired as an assistant solicitor in December at a salary of $53,000 and will receive $90,000 while serving as acting chief solicitor, records show.

Larson’s compensation is set to increase from $68,000 to $75,000 — the compensation Nesbitt had received — during the period he serves as interim division head, county records show.

Donahue receives $68,900 and will be paid Schwille’s compensation of $87,000 during the interim period overseeing human services, which includes the aging, mental health, children and youth and veteran affairs departments, officials said.

No interim overseer of operational services has been appointed.

In his email to the council, Pedri thanked DeLuca for serving as temporary chief solicitor.

“His knowledge and counsel provided county employees with excellent legal services,” Pedri wrote.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

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