A dozen Luzerne County 911 telecommunicators hired

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com
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Luzerne County has hired 12 new telecommunicators at starting salaries of $32,000, according to a newly released monthly personnel report.

Fred Rosencrans, the county’s 911 executive director, recently told county council its 2016 decision to increase the telecommunicator starting salary from $25,500 has boosted interest in the position. The center received 400 applications for the 12 vacant positions, including 20 prospective hires with emergency management experience, he said.

The report, posted at www.luzernecounty.org, lists the following new hires: Alexis Castro, Tyler Gavlick, Wanda Gonzalez, Harold Laity, Julie Ann Mahle, Michael Meeker, Ryan Meranti, Sarah Putman, Brooke Rikoskie, James Ritko, Jonathan Trebunak and Brian Wolfe.

• Four prison employees changed positions based on merit, the report says:

Peter Cwalina transferred from minimal offender unit manager to prison captain, increasing his salary from $52,569 to $65,998.

Correctional officer Matthew Pisano is now a prison counselor, raising his compensation from $60,050 to $60,773. Temporary lieutenant James Wilbur became a permanent lieutenant, keeping his compensation at $63,000. Correctional officer Brandon Fritz was promoted to corporal, bumping his pay from $60,050 to $62,322.

• A county Commission for Women may be reactivated, according to a proposed ordinance up for discussion at Tuesday’s work session.

The ordinance says a commission of up to 30 council-appointed citizens would benefit county residents by evaluating the extent the needs of women are addressed and advocating for the rights of women “in all areas and situations.”

Council had voted in 2016 to abolish the Commission for Women and two other outside boards due to a lack of activity and public interest — the Diversity Commission and the Municipal Cooperation Commission.

At one point, the Commission for Women was a county department that was guided by an advisory board. The paid commission director retired from the county in 2008, following years of complaints from taxpayers that the position and department were unnecessary.

• Council is set to vote on three proposed union contracts at its 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday with union workers in human service departments represented by Teamsters Local 401 — Children and Youth, Mental Health and Developmental Services and Aging. The proposals were not included or summarized in the agenda attachments, and council will hold a closed-door executive session before the vote.

Members of the AFSCME court-related union also have approved their proposed new contract, but it was not listed on Tuesday’s agenda for council approval.

• Some members of the AFSCME residual union privately expressed frustration last week that a majority of their union members recently rejected a proposed new contract, leaving the status of negotiations unclear.

Much of the dissatisfaction with the proposal comes from some 911 telecommunicators who are unhappy with contract wording impacting their department, according to the workers.

The 165-member residual union also covers “rank-and-file” security guards and some workers in road and bridge, building and grounds, mapping, voter services and several other offices.

• The county courthouse will be closed on Friday for Good Friday, one of 12 paid holidays provided to county government employees.

• County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis will present her annual report during Tuesday’s work session, which follows the 6 p.m. voting meeting.

• The council meeting will be preceded by several other sessions Tuesday, all in the council meeting room at the courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre.

A council committee discussing proposed revisions to codes will meet at 4 p.m. to discuss possible personnel code changes.

A presentation on the courthouse restoration project is set to begin at 5 p.m.

Three public hearings will be held starting at 5:15 p.m. regarding two proposals to use capital project savings to fund elevator updates and a rear courthouse entrance reconfiguration and a third proposal to transfer money from reserve to fund a payroll processing contract.

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By Jennifer Learn-Andes

jandes@timesleader.com

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

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