AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – There is a new leader in charge of the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
Bill Whitacre, who currently is the Adult Services Director at the Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities, was granted a three-year contract at Monday’s board meeting. The contract begins Sept. 1 and runs through Aug. 31, 2017.
Whitacre said he does not know much about how previous MCBDD superintendent Larry Duck left five months ago, but said he is looking forward to a fresh start for himself, the board, the staff, clients and parents.
“Through negotiations, we ended up at the low end of our scale at $104,000 per year,” MCBDD president Jack Gruber said.
Gruber said that is a substantially lower salary than former superintendent Larry Duck, who resigned without reason in mid-March. Duck had been on paid administrative leave for six months prior to that, and was the focus of an ethics investigation.
He left with a six-figure severance package.
“I don’t know all the background of everything that has occurred here. Obviously, I will come in and do an assessment of the program, do some homework,” Whitacre said.
He already chatted up Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti. Commissioners have been vocal in calling for more transparency from county boards, especially the MCBDD.
“Putting the programs first, the families, their staff. He has an excellent staff here. They just need direction and new direction to move forward,” Righetti said.
Whitacre said there soon will be changes from the state and federal levels about how the MCBDD’s services and programs will look, but he is ready for the challenge.
“Change is not a bad thing. Change can bring about positive outcomes for people. And that is really what this should be about. We should look to have positive outcomes for the people that we serve,” Whitacre said.
Whitacre beat out two other finalists for the job: Acting superintendent Kristine Hodge and Mahoning County Workshop Director George Gabriel.
Whitacre lives in Rootstown with his wife Kim, and their two teenage children, Hailey and Adam. He will be giving Portage County 30 days notice to leave his current contract.
He plans to make several trips to Mahoning County to visit facilities and meet with staff and parents.