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Health Department gets interim chief New point-man named for labor relations

Niagara County announced Friday that Daniel J. Stapleton will take charge of the Health Department on Tuesday and that a new manager of labor relations, David Watroba of North Tonawanda, will start work that day, too.

Stapleton, who has been the Health Department's director of financial operations since April 1997, will become acting public health director.

Paulette M. Kline, who is resigning effective Jan. 31, will be using up vacation time for most of January.

Stapleton, who was named Kline's deputy in October 2005, is one of 12 people who have applied to succeed her. The application deadline is Wednesday.

John Gotowko, head of the Board of Health's search committee, said the panel will meet soon to decide which candidates are qualified to have their credentials submitted to the state Health Department. The panel may interview only state-approved candidates.

The board had hoped to name Stapleton interim director Dec. 7, but his credentials hadn't been approved. Since then, said Stapleton, "They found out there was no need for the credentials to be approved because they'd already been approved for the deputy position."

Gotowko said Stapleton will be named interim director at the board's Jan. 25 meeting.

Meanwhile, Watroba starts work Tuesday as the No. 2 official in the county Human Resources Department. He will be the point man for handling union grievances.

Watroba has been senior manager of labor relations for Penn Traffic Co., the parent company of Quality Markets, since 2002, but the job involved weekly commutes to Syracuse.

"The county job seemed too good to be true. I couldn't pass up this opportunity," said Watroba, whose salary will be $50,523 a year.

Human Resources Director Peter P. Lopes said Watroba was chosen from among about 20 applicants, six of whom were interviewed by him and County Manager Gregory D. Lewis.

Watroba's entire career has been in the grocery business. He managed a Tops Market and later held executive posts at Fleming Co., parent of Jubilee Foods, from 1984 to 2002.

He replaces Robert L. Schuman, who died Sept. 25.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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