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Ralph F. Aversa, a Democrat-turned-Republican who lost his seat on the City Council in the November election, was appointed Wednesday as director of the city's new drinking-water treatment plant.

City Administrator Anthony J. Restaino said Aversa's appointment to the $48,000-a-year position of water director is effective today.

Aversa succeeds Gerald Grose, who has been acting director of the Water Department since last September. Grose became acting director upon the resignation of former Water Director Francis A. Forgione. Forgione, 70, said he resigned for "personal reasons."

Grose will return to his former position as the Water Department's chief of maintenance, which pays $52,000 a year. Restaino explained that the chief of maintenance is paid more than the water director because the City Council refused to increase the director's salary as had been recommended by the administration of Mayor James C. Galie.

Grose continued to be paid at the $52,000 level while he was serving as acting director, even though the permanent director's salary will be $48,000, Restaino said.

The city administrator said he appointed Aversa because of the former councilman's "excellent knowledge of city government, the budget and Civil Service regulations. Ralph has interacted with the union leaders and he was in management at Key Bank.

"His experience in management, budgeting and personnel will enable him to be an excellent manager of the new water plant.

"Ralph has been reviewing the Water Department budget, and he has been over to visit the plant; he's geared up and ready to go."

As water director, Aversa will be in charge of the $80 million drinking-water treatment plant that was opened last spring on Buffalo Avenue, and the infrastructure, including city water mains. The Water Department has 57 employees.

Aversa, 45, a native of Niagara Falls, said he is "really excited" about taking over the administrative and budgeting aspects of the Water Department. "Most days, I'll be on the job at 6:30 a.m.; I'll work an average of 12 to 14 hours a day, and of course I'll be on call 24 hours a day," he said.

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