Sunday, July 13, 2014

Search to begin for flood boss

February 20. 2013 1:46AM
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The search for someone to replace Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority Executive Director Jim Brozena will be discussed at Tuesday's authority meeting.

Hopefully within a few months we will have somebody hired, said authority board member Adrian Merolli, the county's planning/zoning director.

The authority plans to approve a job advertisement Tuesday and will discuss the job description and a process for reviewing and interviewing applicants, Merolli said. Résumés likely will be accepted for two or three weeks, he said.

Brozena received $79,277 a year.

The executive director's duties include oversight of:

• The 15-mile Wyoming Valley Levee system, running from Exeter to Plymouth on the West Side and from the county courthouse in Wilkes-Barre to Hanover Township on the east bank of the Susquehanna River.

• A multicounty program designed to buy out flood-prone properties and implement other flood-control measures in Susquehanna River communities not protected by levees.

• A fee on levee-protected properties that generates about $1 million annually for levee maintenance.

• Other scattered flood-control projects the authority agrees to undertake.

A myriad of maintenance duties and inspections are required to keep the levee system certified, including work on pump stations, Merolli said. This is a very difficult and technical job because the federal government has complex rules and regulations, he said. There are also a whole host of normal operation and business and accounting duties.

The executive director also takes charge when the Susquehanna River rises to flood stage. From a public safety standpoint, this position is critical, Merolli said.

County Chief Engineer Joe Gibbons said he is trained and prepared to monitor the levee because he worked alongside Brozena during past flooding. Also, Brozena said he will step in as a volunteer during floods.

But these high-water events are so intense, you need a team of people, Merolli said.

Merolli doubts the county will find someone with Brozena's institutional and technical knowledge and said the chosen replacement will require a learning curve.

Jim was a one-man operation, which makes it more difficult, he said. I don't think we can hope to duplicate exactly what we have.

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