Portage County looking to rehire Water Resources Manager

Portage County hopes to hire another Director of Water Resources Afterwards the man who held the position for only four months resigned.

Allen Fathi, who was hired as director of water resources on October 4, resigned on Wednesday.

The commissioners decided to divide the work into two positions: director of water resources and sanitary engineer. Commissioners said the department, which oversees water and sewer services for the county, has two engineers on staff and does not need a third engineer to oversee operations.

Human resources director Janet Kovick said the previous job description for the director’s position also required that person to be a sanitary engineer. Currently, the Engineering Manager of the department is qualified to serve as a Sanitary Engineer. The next director of water resources, she said, could focus on the administrative operations of the department and would not have to be an engineer.

Portage County Administration Building

Although the county is mandated to have a sanitary engineer, “the superintendent doesn’t have to be the sanitary engineer,” said County Administrator Michelle Crombie.

Although the Sanitary Engineer position would be in a higher salary classification than the Director of Engineering, the Director position would be in a lower salary classification than it currently is.

Last year, the commissioners found it difficult to find candidates who possessed the qualities of the position. Although 11 candidates initially applied for the job, only three met the qualifications, Kovick said last year.

Gene Robertsthe former director of water resources, resigned in early 2021. Roberts, who joined the county in 2016 after working for the town of Kent, was also the county administrator.

At the end of June, the commissioners hiring Paul Wilson, director of public services for the town of Lorain, at the head of the department. However, a few days later Wilson decided not to accept the position and the job search resumed.

John Vence, director of engineering for the department, served as acting director of water resources last year. However, Vence has repeatedly said he does not want to hold the position permanently.

“John is an engineer by trade, a very, very good engineer, but he would rather focus on the engineering trade, which is better, honestly,” Crombie said.

Journalist Diane Smith can be reached at [email protected]

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