Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri has nominated his first two division heads — Gregory Briggs to oversee correctional services and Michael Donahue to head human services.
A county council majority must confirm the nominees. The matter is up for discussion and a possible vote at Tuesday’s council meeting, according to an agenda released Friday.
According to Pedri’s submission:
Briggs, of Johnstown in southwestern Pennsylvania, is a Shippensburg University graduate who has been working as Somerset County’s warden since 2011, overseeing the county’s correctional facility.
“Upon hire, he immediately updated all policies and procedures and initiated video conferencing. He also facilitated a re-entry plan, helped write grants to establish more treatment at the jail and assisted in the implementation of a new central booking center,” Pedri wrote.
Briggs also has experience in collective bargaining and seeking incarceration options to save money. He previously worked as a correctional officer in Franklin County and quickly advanced to lieutenant. In that position, he managed 30 staffers and the safety and security of 330 inmates.
Pedri wants to pay Briggs $85,000 annually and a one-time payment of up to $4,000 to cover moving expenses that must be reimbursed if Briggs voluntary leaves county employment within a year.
Prior correctional division head J. Allen Nesbitt, who resigned in early March, received a $75,000 salary.
The position was budgeted at $75,000, but Pedri said salary savings from vacant positions in the correctional division would cover the additional compensation and moving expense this year.
County prison deputy Warden James Larson has been serving as interim correctional services division head since April 1 and did not seek the position permanently.
Three other managers served on a panel that interviewed and ranked applicants and selected Briggs: Sheriff Brian Szumski, Chief Public Defender Steven Greenwald and Administrative Services Division Head David Parsnik.
If confirmed, Briggs would start around Aug. 1.
Donahue, of Black Creek Township, is a King’s College graduate and has worked in the human services field for about 35 years.
Currently the county’s drug and alcohol executive director, Donahue also has been serving as interim human services division head since early April.
He has headed the county’s drug and alcohol department, which also serves Wyoming County, for 14 years, supervising dozens of employees and working closely with the state’s Department of Human Services. He is a state-certified alcohol and drug counselor.
Pedri said Donahue has “made an impact in a short period of time” as interim division head, continuing improvements in Children and Youth that will be needed to reverse a license downgrade and addressing other financial and administrative issues.
The position would be filled at $87,000, the same compensation paid to prior division head David Schwille, who retired in April.
In addition to Pedri, Parsnik and county Children and Youth Advisory Board member Ray Whalen served on the panel that recommended Donahue.
Pedri has not presented nominees for two other vacant division head positions: operational services and law.
Appointed county manager last month, Pedri previously held the law division head position. The operational division head position has been vacant since Tanis Manseau resigned in October.