Committee on aging employees get raises

Wood County Committee on Aging employees will get a raise next year, but there will be no impact on the budget as a number of positions remain unfilled.

In addition to the 4.5% raises that will go into effect in January, board President Paul Herringshaw asked for approval to give $32,500 to Executive Director Denise Niese to distribute at her discretion to thank employees for all that they’ve done.

With seven open positions and two people on medical leave, “that has made our staff always on their toes,” Herringshaw said.

“We owe a great big thank you to our staff for all they’ve done,” including being cross trained to keep everything open, he said.

Niese reported at Wednesday’s board meeting that are vacancies for a North Baltimore site manager, northeast route driver, social services nurse, home delivered meals assessor, program and outreach specialist, program and enrichment specialist, cook and evening cleaners.

A social service specialist position has been filled by Caleb Johnson, who was a fall intern.

“They’ve done a tremendous job and we cannot thank them enough,” Herringshaw said. “We’ve been able, through all these difficulties, to keep our doors open and keep all of our programming.”

“That is what is making us continue to prosper,” Niese said about employees doing double duty.

The 4.5 % pay raise will not increase the personnel budget for 2023 because it’s expected that not all vacant positions will be filled in the first quarter, Niese said.

“We’re keeping it in the black,” said George Stossel, who gave the financial report.

Board member Tom Milbrodt said some positions that are currently underpaid may receive more than 4.5%.

Niese also reported that MemoryLane Care Services is expected to begin in the summer, contingent upon receiving Older Americans Act funding. The goal is to hold a ribbon cutting in May, which is Older Americans Month, she said.

The memory care center, which will be located within the Wood County Senior Center on South Grove Street, will be available to those with dementia or head trauma.

Also at the meeting, the governing board donated $612 to board member Sue Hess and Santa Claus to support the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Project that the Wood County Committee on Aging facilitates.

Hess reported that when she first passed Santa’s hat in 2018, $56 was raised. In 2019, that amount increased to $138. No collection was taken in 2020. Last year, $359 was collected and she challenged governing board members to double the collection.

She said this was the first time the Santa suit had been worn in 22 years; it belonged to her husband.

Also at the meeting, the board:

• Learned that 1,065 Thanksgiving lunches of turkey were served Nov. 10, and 1,021 holiday lunches of roast beef were served Dec. 8. Additionally, a two-meal pack of shelf stable meals were delivered to all home-delivered meal participants.

LivelyU programming for the fall had 137 participants and 17 courses.

Advisory Committee Chairperson Eric Myers reported there are 25 different ideas for spring classes, which start in March, but there is a problem finding instructors.

• Heard that the Friends of the Wood County Committee on Aging annual campaign started in November with a goal of raising $35,000.

• Heard about concerns about the goal to hire veterans, but the board’s drug policy prohibits the use of prescribed marijuana.

Niese said federal law supersedes state law. While medical marijuana is legal in Ohio, the federal government has not yet recognized that. In order to continue to receive federal funds, the board must follow the law, she said.

• Learned there were eight candidates for election to the board, with four to be chosen. Roger Anderson, Hess, Milbrodt and Stossel were reelected to the board. Tim McCarthy and Jim Miles were reappointed.

Board member Louis Katzner said the board was expanded with the idea to diversify.

“It looks like we’re just perpetuating what we have,” he said. “I’m not saying what we had was bad, but I thought there was a move towards diversification.”

Herringshaw said that McCarthy brings legal experience and Miles is a business owner.

“I think we’re getting the diversity from the different backgrounds they bring to the board,” he said.

• Heard Hess, who is chair of the facilities commission, report Friends of the WCCOA funds totalling $4,332 were used for purchases of Bluetooth speakers, DVDs, cameras, color printers and LCD projectors at the various senior center sites.