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Two panels unanimously approve Sobon to administer Mount View

Two Niagara County Legislature committees unanimously approved Robert E. Sobon's nomination as Mount View Health Facility administrator Tuesday, clearing the way for his confirmation next Tuesday by the full Legislature.

Sobon will presumably be Mount View's last administrator, since the Legislature voted June 26 to close the nursing home sometime before June 30, 2008.

Legislator Renae Kimble, D-Niagara Falls, asked why Sobon would want "a dead-end job."

"I view it as a new chapter in my professional growth," said Sobon, 39. "I don't look at it as a dead end. I view it as a new opportunity."

He promised not to spend his time job hunting. "That doesn't fit with my personal ethics," Sobon said.

But because Sobon won't be in Lockport long, County Manager Gregory D. Lewis recommended a waiver from the county's residency requirement, which the committees approved. Sobon lives in Buffalo.

Sobon is to be paid at the annual rate of $89,961. He will have a four-year contract, but although Lewis said there will be some "post-closure tasks," he won't be here for four years.

He is to receive three months' pay as a severance package when he leaves. That was a reduction from six months' pay in the original version of the contract.

Sobon blamed the ownership of his last nursing home and one particular patient for the negative state inspection reports that resulted in the nursing home's rating among the worst 10 percent in the state by Consumers Union.

Sobon told the committee that most of the deficiencies at Williamsville Suburban resulted from poor management practices before he got there in March 2005. A month later, the state Health Department arrived and found deficiencies that took two more inspections to resolve.

The Williamsville facility is owned by Legacy Health Care, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection the month before it hired Sobon.

"I walked into that organization with my eyes wide open. I was recruited to come there," Sobon said. He had headed the skilled-nursing facility at Wyoming County Community Hospital for five years before that. That facility was fined $8,000 for four separate violations in 2002.

Sobon left Williamsville, he said, because of a mutual decision with the owner, after the man who had hired him left the company.

Lewis presented letters from three other nursing home administrators vouching for Sobon's ability.


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