Two new division heads confirmed

June 26th, 2015 8:05 pm

First Posted: 5/6/2013

After a 2 1/2-hour, closed-door executive session, a majority of Luzerne County Council voted to confirm the county manager’s two latest division-head nominations.

County 911 Executive Director David Parsnik, Plains Township, will be paid $70,000 as the new overseer of administrative services, which includes human resources, purchasing/acquisition, information technology, elections, licensing/permits, records, grant writing, community development and tourism.

J. Allen Nesbitt, Easton, was hired for $75,000 to oversee the correctional-services division covering the prison system and juvenile detention.

Seven council members voted for Parsnik: Harry Haas, Linda McClosky Houck, Eugene Kelleher, Stephen A. Urban, Rick Williams, Elaine Maddon Curry and Tim McGinley.

Six supported Nesbitt’s hiring: McClosky Houck, Kelleher, Williams, Jim Bobeck, Maddon Curry and McGinley.

Councilman Rick Morelli voted against both appointments, saying he wanted more time to research the nominees’ backgrounds. County Manager Robert Lawton submitted the names and information on both nominees to council on Friday.

“If we screw up and make a bad decision, it’s our fault,” he said.

Councilman Edward Brominski also opposed both nominees, questioning the selection process. He said two of the screening-committee members for the corrections positions should have abstained from the process because they were from other counties and knew Nesbitt personally.

Councilman Stephen A. Urban said he voted against Parsnik’s hiring as 911 director when Urban was a commissioner but said he changed his position because he has been impressed with Parsnik’s performance.

Urban said he can’t support Nesbitt’s hiring because Nesbitt resigned as warden in Bucks County at the request of county commissioners after a series of investigations and arrests of prison employees.

“Those issues happened on your watch,” Urban told Nesbitt.

Maddon Curry said she had a “few concerns” about Nesbitt but was satisfied with his explanation during the executive session. She thanked him for his “candor.”

Kelleher concurred. “I was very concerned coming in. You changed my mind.”

Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea endorsed Nesbitt during public comment. Nesbitt worked as vice president of correctional services for MinSec Companies LLC, which operated a halfway house in the city’s downtown.

DeAndrea said Nesbitt worked with him to address concerns about the facility, allowing city police access to the residents and a database that tracks clients as they leave.

“I can think of no one better to run the prison,” DeAndrea said of Nesbitt. “I feel this is the best thing not only for my community but the county.”

Parsnik said he looks forward to his new assignment.

“I’m ready to move forward and do what needs to be done. I’m excited. I will make this work,” Parsnik said.

Nesbitt was busy chatting with council members after the vote, saying he understands concerns and is determined to prove himself in the new position.

Lawton also announced he has selected county Planning/Zoning Director Adrian Merolli as acting manager if he is absent. Joe Gibbons, the prior designee, left for other employment. Lawton said Merolli has an “outstanding reputation” during his 30 years with the county and is known for his diligence and integrity. The designation, required by home rule, does not come with additional compensation.

Council also approved Williams’ motion to proceed with the online posting of all emails exchanged between council members.