ST. CLAIRSVILLE - During Wednesday's meeting, Belmont County Commissioners officially named a new director of the Department of Job and Family Services. John M. Rowan will officially take the director's hat July 15.
He is currently executive director of Oakview Juvenile Residential Center in St. Clairsville. He has held the position for the past seven years. He has previously served as regional director of the Wheeling/Martinsburg Region of the National Youth Advocate Program from 2005-2006; as executive director of the U.S. Department of Justice program, Wheeling Weed and Seed, from 1998-2002; and in case management at the U.S. Department of Justice Federal Correctional Institution in Ashland, Ky., 1995-96.
His wife, Colleen, is editor of The Catholic Spirit newspaper for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. They reside in Wheeling with their 20-month-old son, Michael.
T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK
John Rowan, incoming Department of Job and Family Services director, is pictured with his wife, Colleen, and son Michael.
The commissioners recognized Rowan's skills and abilities, adding that his personal concern for the people his department helps is among his most important qualifiers.
"The compassion to the public you have served, that's what sold me on you," said Commissioner Charles R. Probst, Jr. "You're going to be a great fit, and we look forward to helping you move the Department of Job and Family Services into the future."
"You hit every point we were looking for," said Commissioner Ginny Favede, pointing out his leadership qualities and the responsibility of the position. "Job and Family Services provides a safety net to the society that is Belmont County on many, many different levels."
Judge Mark Costine, lead judge of the Oakview Center, noted Rowan's accomplishments at the facility.
"He has done a fantastic job and as sad as the board is to lose a very good person like him, we're very happy for him and their decision to hire him, and we know he'll do an excellent job," he said.
Rowan noted that he is looking forward to taking on the role for the county and strengthening the organization for the future.
"I am very excited and appreciative of the opportunity to be part of such a special organization," Rowan said. "I look forward to meeting and working with the staff, and I know that together we will enhance the services the organization provides to the public."
He added that the department will continue to address the specific needs of the county, including family requiring financial assistance, those families going through domestic troubles, and children in need of the resources the department can provide.
Rowan said he has been working with outgoing Director Dwayne Pielech on the transition process.
"I've had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Pielech, and he's been very helpful so far," Rowan said, adding that he hoped to continue to have an open dialogue with him until he took on the position. He added that he will also continue to acquaint himself with the staff and organization so that he can enhance the programs and initiatives in place.
"I'm very confident that we have the people in place that we can continue to make a positive difference in the lives of those that need assistance in Belmont County," he said.
He added that he has continued to meet with commissioners as well.
During prior meetings, guests have inquired about the need for a status report to outline the current state of the department and its future plans.
"Any type of position like this you want transparency, you want people to feel confident that the services that you are providing are open, and they are able to have confidence in what you're doing as an agency. I think that our operations as we go forward will reflect that. We want people to feel that they have confidence in our department, that we're doing the things that are needed to help those that need assistance, and we're basically in a position that we're offering the best services out there," he said.
"I treat everyone with respect and courtesy and I'm very confident that our organization will continue to exhibit that, and going forward, this will be an organization that the citizens of Belmont County will be very proud of."
DeFrank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org