Senior Services May Change Hands

Belmont County commissioners are considering a change in management for Senior Services next year.

One possibility could include establishing a separate senior services department that would report directly to the board of commissioners.

Commissioner Chuck Probst said the commissioners have talked with Dwayne Pielech, director of the county Department of Job and Family Services, which has managed senior services in recent months.

“It’s not that that the seniors are not being taken care of in any way, shape or form, but it was a huge undertaking for us to ask him to do that,” Probst said. “It may be a good idea to take Senior Services in another direction.”

Commissioners also believe there would be advantages to having an agency that could handle senior issues on a full-time basis. DJFS operates Senior Services as one of its five divisions.

In addition, major budget cuts are expected for Human Services, and Probst said Pielech would focus all his attention on adjusting to those changes.

“We are trying to make sure we save those jobs there, or as many jobs as we can, and continue to move forward without cutting services,” he said.

Probst noted plans could call for the creation of a new director’s post and possibly the addition of a finance administrator and two other employees to handle senior service operations as a stand-alone agency, although the number of new employees would depend on how many duties the director would be qualified to perform.

“Naturally, we want to make it cost-effective and be able to provide as many or more services,” Probst said.

Such a change might occur after the first of the year. It likely would include an advisory board of seniors. The county would also look for a new facility and kitchen.

Commissioner Ginny Favede said there is a need to work with seniors and gain their input.