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EX-PUBLIC WORKS CHIEF RETURNS TO OLD EMPLOYER

Maria C. Lehman, the former public works commissioner for Erie County, may have left the government payroll, but it sounds like she still could have a hand in things. On Monday, she rejoins URS Corp., an engineering firm for which she worked before taking the county job, as vice president.

And now that she'll be working for a company that won't demand her attention every waking hour, she said, she also plans to run for a seat on the Orchard Park School Board. "They need help," she said, "specifically on the facilities side."

Lehman resigned early last month, saying she was burned out by the budget crisis and had been offered a once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity.

At URS, Lehman will oversee all nonfederal government work undertaken by URS in the Northeast. She'll work out of the San Francisco-based company's Buffalo office and have some oversight authority of 1,500 employees on a project-by-project basis, she said.

URS has been contracted for a variety of public engineering and architectural projects,, including the Outer Harbor, Union Ship Canal Commerce Park and the Erie County Botanical Gardens.

Since Lehman had overseen a $100 million county capital program and a $37 million annual operations budget, she may have a natural advantage in obtaining future county work for URS.

County Purchasing Director Joseph F. Gervase said the county has no prohibitions against former employees bidding on county work. "Walking away from any job is difficult," Lehman said in a recent interview. "There are great people, and there's work I've done that I would have liked to finish."

e-mail: stan@buffnews.com