DJFS employees seeking answers

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Several DJFS employees brought the matter of a need for a permanent director to the attention of commissioners during their regular meeting Wednesday.

Lynne Zanke, employee and president of the union, noted that a petition had been submitted in November signed by 75 percent of DJFS employees in favor of Interim Director Fijalkowski.

“I think she has a lot of diversity. She’s brought the agency together as a whole. She has shown great strengths in her position as interim director and I feel she’s an asset for our agency. She’s worked in every aspect of the agency in her years of service and she is highly recommended by the employees,” she said. “I hope that the commissioners consider that on a good note for all of us for Belmont County because she does put the clients first.”

An investigator also noted that Fijalkowski has accompanied investigations into homes in the interest of knowing all aspects of the employees’ duties in DJFS.

Commissioner Ginny Favede noted that Fijalkowski was selected as interim director in August after three earlier attempts to find a director. An experienced outside attorney was hired to handle interviews. The attorney was in the midst of interviews in November and submitted recommendations for two applicants and Fijalkowski was one. The commissioners have not followed up on the recommendations yet.

Favede reaffirmed that the board had confidence in the employees’ abilities and dedication to their work. She credited Fijalkowski for coming in on a moment’s notice to take up the duties. She also noted Fijalkowski’s efforts in gaining grants for the department and her work with other agencies.

“I have been profoundly impressed with her and I do think your happiness does matter,” she said. “You are tasked with taking care of, beyond our seniors, the neediest of our community.”

Favede added that while she would be in favor of appointing Fijalkowski to that position, it is the board’s decision to go back into formal interviews.

Richard Hord, citizen, noted the delay in hiring a new director and suggested the process be accelerated.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com.