By GIB SNYDER
OBSERVER City Editor
The city of Dunkirk is hiring, looking to fill positions left vacant by retirements and in some cases filling new positions.
The person in charge of hiring, Mayor Anthony J. Dolce, explained the what and why.
"We've had a lot of retirements, so we've thought long and hard and filled them quickly. I've thought long and hard on what the public has asked for, what council has asked, what our needs are," he stated. "I'm maintaining the same level of employment. We're just putting it into different positions to hopefully better suit our needs and the needs of the public."
One person making a move is City Clerk, or soon to be former city clerk, Lacy Lawrence. Lawrence is moving to the Development Department as deputy director of planning and development, according to Dolce.
"It has existed before but it has been some time since it has been filled," Dolce said of the slot. "I felt that this was an opportunity to fill a position of need in the city. We often hear about grant opportunities and simply don't have the time to do them all. So we needed someone who could handle those duties along with (Development Director Steve Neratko). It took some time but we're ready to move now."
Dolce said Lawrence meets the necessary qualifications. As part of the changes in development, Community Development Block Grant Administrator Tim Gornikiewicz will be moving to a recreation program coordinator position. The mayor added both positions are full-time with benefits and that the recreation position is subject to a bidding process.
With Gornikiewicz moving to a new slot, there will be a new CDBG coordinator hired as an independent contractor.
"I would like to make it perfectly clear that the person who gets that responsibility will be only doing HUD work," the mayor explained. "He or she will be paid through HUD funds and strictly doing HUD work. Period."
The city clerk position will now go back to 30 to 32 hours per week, according to Dolce. Lawrence was hired as a part-time city clerk for 20 hours per week at $16 per hour in January 2012 and moved to full-time status in July 2012 at the same rate but with the option of taking health care benefits or a buyout - the same as other full-time employees.
"Now that we have two full-time union clerks I felt we could save a few hours with making the job go from full-time to part-time, we will not be offering the benefits," Dolce said. "So we'll see a significant cost savings there."
Dolce said he hopes to have resolutions on both the clerk and CDBG slots for Common Council at the Sept. 3 meeting.
"No one's been hired. We'll do the second round of interviews for clerk and complete the reference checks next week," Dolce said, adding the original 10 clerk applicants have been cut to four after interviews. "We did also hold a few interviews for the CDBG position."
The retirements of Recreation and Parks Director Tom Rozumalski and Youth Program Coordinator Larissa Aldrich left a gap to fill, but Dolce said the departments will be properly staffed once the changes are completed.
"I feel we'll have people in the right places to get done what needs to be done. We need someone that can devote more time to grants while handling more of the public relations duties of the office. We'll have someone completely devoted to HUD and we'll have someone who can devote the right amount of time to the festival planning and handling the many nuances of the recreation leagues," he explained. "There's a significant time commitment to running those rec leagues, which I will be the first to say, I underestimated this past summer until I received the numerous phone calls and stuff. That's quite a challenge there. There's a lot of moving parts but I'm confident at the end of all the parts being moved we'll be in good shape for the future.
"I don't know what kind of editorial will arise from this but it's the same pot of money. I'm just moving it to different spots."
The recent retirement of Department of Public Works senior engineering technician Dave Manzella is not making matters easier.
"The two things that are in peril without Dave right now would be finishing up the bike path and finalizing the bid process for our street paving program," Dolce said. "Dave is integral to both of those things so we're waiting to hear back on our possibilities there before we make our next move. Dave contributed a great deal."
Dolce said the retirement of Manzella was a "huge loss."
"Dave has built a wealth of knowledge over his decades here in the city. That job has been posted, as are others, to multiple forums and we're casting as wide a net as possible to fill his shoes," he added. "My priority is always city residents. Some positions it's easier to do that than others, but most definitely that's my priority."
Two of the positions involved are covered under union contracts currently being negotiated. Dolce was asked about progress on the negotiations.
"With 2693 we have our next meeting set for the first week of September; 912, we're still waiting on a day to meet," he replied, adding the city is waiting to hear from Local 912's attorney, Charles DeAngelo.
The city has hired three full timers in 2013 and all are city residents, according to Dolce.
Paul Ahrens is a water treatment plant operator trainee; Christopher Campbell was hired as a municipal worker and Pam Begier was hired to fill a slot in the city clerk's office. Under part-time permanent status is Fiscal Affairs Officer Richard Halas, also a city resident.
Life guards include city residents Alicia Bradley, William Bradley, Jonathan Fountain, Kristine George, Charles Medema, Lillian Rollins, Andrew Saye, Samantha Saye, Zephyr Smith, Byron Vanzile and Kristen Zolnoske. Fredonia residents Hannah Catalano and AnnMarie Griffith, along with Silver Creek resident Lawrence Kaminski and town of Dunkirk resident Matthew Murphy round out the crew guarding swimmers off the city's Lake Erie beaches. City resident Jean Mahaney is back as the head lifeguard.
Recreation Department attendants at the city's winter Rec Center included city residents Erik Flitt, Nikolas Ahlstrom and Adam Woefle.
Workers at the city's summer camp series at Camp Gross include city residents Kristine Beatty, Shane Boyle, Adreanna Dolce, Austin Ganey, Nicholas Kobel, Dylan Leon, Alicia Palmitier, Aleyna Szot, Franceska Torain, Bradley Westling and Brett Westling; while Katelyn Gawronski filled in as needed. Michael Rozumalski was the camp's lifeguard and Daniel Berg served as the camp's EMT. Both are city residents, as is Amanda Westling who ran the camp this year.
Part-time temps hired for the Streets Department include city residents Xavier Barrios, Paul Williams and Michael Cole, along with town of Dunkirk resident Max Schrantz.
The Parks Department was supplemented with city residents Ian Prechtl, Brandon Torrance, Darnell Baldwin, E. Marquell Marshall, Joseph Polichetti, Woelfle and John Romanik; along with town of Dunkirk resident Eric Tarnowski.
The boat launch was manned by city residents, William Heenan as harbormaster and Mark Raynor assisting at the launch site.
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