New Luzerne County human services division head appointed

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - | February 7th, 2017 9:24 pm

Nanticoke resident Lynn Hill was hired Tuesday as Luzerne County’s new human services division head.

After interviewing Hill in a closed-door executive session, seven of 11 council members voted to confirm county Manager C. David Pedri’s nominee.

Hill will receive $85,000 to oversee the division, which has a $104.7 million budget and covers aging, mental health, child welfare, veteran, drug and alcohol and mental health services.

Council members Edward Brominski, Kathy Dobash, Eileen Sorokas and Stephen A. Urban voted against the nomination.

Dobash said before the vote she would not support the nomination because she does not believe Hill has enough applicable experience to run the division.

She also said nominees for all eight division head positions should be publicly interviewed. In the past, some nominees were publicly grilled about their qualifications. The council did not ask Hill any questions during Tuesday’s public meeting.

After Dobash raised the issue, council Chairwoman Linda McClosky Houck asked Hill to approach the podium to introduce herself and speak about her experience.

Hill has a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a pre-law concentration and said she started her career working as a therapeutic support staff worker assisting children with special needs and then a mental health counselor focused on domestic violence victims.

From 2004 to 2011, she held positions as development director for SAFE (Supporting Autism and Families Everywhere); president of the Business and Professional Women’s Association; event chair for the Scranton-based Professionals Organized Working to Enrich the Region, also known as POWER!; and northeast regional manager for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia.

Hill said she shifted to marketing positions since then, handling business development/marketing at Capital Wine & Spirits in Allentown for a little over a year and working as consumer marketing manager at the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino in Plains Township since September 2012.

While acknowledging she has “big shoes to fill” replacing Michael Donahue, who left for a position in Wyoming County in January, Hill said her human services and communications skills have prepared her for the new role.

“I guarantee all of you I will immerse myself in this role,” Hill said, citing plans to maximize state and federal funding for the agencies and ensure all departments work together to provide the “best service to constituents” of the county.

In other business, the council unanimously voted to:

• Accept a $475,000 settlement payment from New Jersey-based contractor D.A. Nolt for water damage to interior murals and plaster inside the historic county courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.

The county’s 2015 arbitration claim argued the company should pay $691,400 for damages caused by its failure to properly cover the courthouse domes to prevent rain from getting in the building during its exterior restoration project, which wrapped up in 2013.

D.A. Nolt had filed its own claim against the county claiming it was owed more than $1.59 million for costly delays outside the company’s control. The council had agreed to pay the company a $375,000 arbitration settlement to close out that claim last year.

• Lock in a three-year contract extension with BI Inc. to continue operating a day reporting center on Wilkes-Barre Boulevard in Wilkes-Barre, allowing nonviolent offenders to avoid incarceration if they check in for drug testing and participate in programs designed to change their criminal thinking and behavior.

Under this fourth contract extension with BI Inc., the county will continue paying the same daily rates based on the number of participants in 2017 and 2018 and 1.5 percent more in 2019. The county has been paying the company around $1.1 million annually, but officials say the center saves money on inmate housing and reduces prison overcrowding.

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

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