New Castle News

Closer Look

August 28, 2013

Children, youth services has new director, deputy

NEW CASTLE — Lawrence County Children and Youth Services has a new director and deputy director.

Sandy Copper, who became the director about a year ago, is retiring Wednesday.

Her official retirement date, after vacation time, is Sept. 11.

The commissioners have appointed William Betz of Wayne Township, a caseworker II, as the acting director. Betz will assume the director’s job permanently upon approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. Betz’s new salary will be $57,500. His caseworker salary for this year was $36,565.

The commissioners have moved Frank Merlino, a caseworker supervisor, into the new position of deputy, at a salary of $50,500. His position also is acting, contingent on state approval. His annual salary as caseworker supervisor was $43,980.

Commissioner Dan Vogler commented that whenever the county makes appointments to higher positions, “our philosophy we’ve had is that we begin by looking from within the organization, to see if we can move them up.”

Copper had been an employee with the agency for 37 years, having advanced through the ranks.

Vogler said she “is just a wonderful human being” and “an exceptional administrator.”

“I have extremely high regard for Sandy Copper,” Commissioner Steve Craig said.

“She has a wealth of knowledge,” and an understanding of multiple generations of families, he said.

“These are not easy jobs to do,” he continued. The staff deals with children, parents and families that are in distress.

“It’s possibly the toughest job we have here,” he said of county government, in addition to the family court judge.

“She did take the job very seriously,” Commissioner Bob Del Signore said of Copper.

Regarding Betz and Merlino serving together as administrators, he commented, “I think it’s going to be a great tenure.”

Betz, who retired Feb. 14, 2007, as Ellwood City police chief after 30 years, went to work the very next day as a children and youth services caseworker.

“Mr. Betz enjoys a good reputation in this county,” Vogler said, adding he has a strong background in administration and in working with people.

Betz still works part time as the police chief of Wayne Township.

Merlino, a resident of Youngstown, also has worked in various capacities at children and youth services for the past 28 years.

Copper had become the agency’s director last summer upon the retirement of Jane Gajda.

Her annual salary at that time was set at $55,700. With this year’s increases, she was earning $59,112.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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