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Glatz to be named acting Niagara County public works chief

LOCKPORT – Former Niagara County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz is to be confirmed as acting public works commissioner Tuesday by the County Legislature.

Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, chairman of the Infrastructure and Facilities Committee, said Friday that three or four candidates for the job are to be interviewed next week, but County Manager Richard E. Updegrove said the opening caused by the retirement of Commissioner Kevin P. O’Brien in late March needs to be filled.

Glatz is to serve no more than 90 days at $60 an hour for a 35-hour work week, and will keep all the benefits he was receiving as county manager. He had spent April as a managerial consultant for Updegrove, who took over at the start of the month.

Updegrove said he hoped there would have been more applicants for O’Brien’s job, pronouncing himself “disappointed and underwhelmed by the number of applications.”

Updegrove said he is considering several options for restructuring Public Works, a process Glatz began last year by making the buildings and grounds operation a separate department. Updegrove said Glatz is “very familiar with the department, its budget and its operation.”

He added, “Obviously, Mr. Glatz is not going to be operating in an engineering capacity. He’ll be providing general oversight over the department.”

O’Brien was one of several county department heads who were told in January to reapply for their jobs if they wanted to keep them. Updegrove said he’s not going to consider changes in any other departments until Public Works is dealt with.

“We’re not going to do them simultaneously. We will examine them one at a time, consecutively,” Updegrove said, adding that he will consult with the Legislature on which department to look at first. There is no schedule for doing so.

Updegrove said, “I’m committed to the results, but not the calendar.”

He added, “We want to re-examine our management team to make sure we have the best managers serving our government. It isn’t a reflection on any one person or manager that we have.”

Since O’Brien left, Michael F. Tracy, deputy commissioner for highways, also announced his retirement, effective next week, and in January, Bruce McNutt, a senior civil engineer, also called it a career. Those changes left Richard W. Eakin, deputy commissioner for engineering, holding down the fort. He was the only employee below department head level who was told to reapply for his job.

Updegrove said, “Rick Eakin is doing an admirable job filling in, but we need to fill the management void.” The manager declined to discuss his plans for restructuring the department, saying he is still considering options.

“I do not want to alarm any one person unnecessarily when there may be no need,” Updegrove said.

Syracuse said he’d like to see Glatz get things moving on an analysis of the county’s current facilities. O’Brien had sought a new Public Works headquarters and highway garage to be built on county-owned land on Junction Road in Cambria, but the cost caused the Legislature to shy away from the project. Syracuse said a special facilities committee will be touring county buildings to check out conditions.