Niagara County Board of Health President John Gotowko on Thursday unveiled a list of five candidates who will be interviewed next week for the post of county health director.
The lineup includes two current Health Department officials: Daniel J. Stapleton, the current deputy director and financial operations director, who was named interim director Thursday; and Lisa Chester, director of the department's program for children with special needs.
Two other local figures on the list are Walter D. Garrow, a former chemist for the City of Niagara Falls who is currently corporate safety director of Quality Inspection Services and chairman of the Rehabilitation Advisory Board for Lake Ontario Ordnance Works; and Lydia J. Brown of East Amherst, former executive assistant to the director of the state Division of Rehabilitative Services.
The only semifinalist from outside the area is Mitchell Berger, a public health planner for Camden County, N.J.
Gotowko said the interviews will last about an hour each and will occur Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. The board's personnel and search committee will choose one to three finalists for referral to the state Health Department for approval of their credentials. Only after that will the board make its final choice. The salary, however, is set by the County Legislature.
"The state is the one that is going to hold up the whole process. I'm totally convinced of that," said Gotowko.
Outgoing Public Health Director Paulette M. Kline said the board had to delay its choice of Stapleton as interim director because his credentials hadn't been approved in Albany. "We were waiting for Albany and then they said he didn't have to be credentialed because he was already deputy, after we waited more than 30 days," she said.
In other action, the board granted waivers to the indoor smoking ban to four local bars: the Niagara Hotel and Pour Boyz in Lockport, City Limits in Niagara Falls and Scruples in Newfane.
Meanwhile, the board hired Thomas A. Zona, who retired two years ago as an associate sanitarian in the Health Department, as the new hearing officer for smoking law violations. The one-year deal pays Zona $30 an hour for hearings, Board of Health meetings and preparation time for the hearings.