MERCER COUNTY Mayoral candidate asks about lack of minorities

The county jail guards will get three annual pay raises of 3 percent.
MERCER, Pa. -- A Farrell cleric has questioned why the county has so few minority employees.
The Rev. Martha Sanders, pastor of the Hour of Power Full Gospel Tabernacle in Farrell and a candidate for mayor, asked Mercer County commissioners Thursday why "the complexion" of the courthouse never changes.
She was referring to the scarcity of minority employees working there.
Commissioners said they have made efforts to recruit minorities. Commissioner Olivia Lazor said every time a full-time county position is advertised, separate notification is sent to five organizations in the black community, among them, the Urban League and the NAACP. This practice, however, has not drawn a large number of applicants, Bill Boyle, director of administrative services, said after the meeting.
Boyle added, however, that all openings do not get advertised because part-time employees, by contract, have first opportunity to apply for full-time openings.
Jobs at jail
Commissioners pointed out that although there is a hiring freeze because of budget constraints, one area where jobs are available is the jail. Openings exist for two male and two female jail guards because of resignations and the anticipated needs of the planned new county jail.
Those interested in the posts should apply at Careerlink, West State Street, Sharon. The county has contracted with Careerlink because it can provide job testing at a lower cost than the county can.
Those interested in future openings can get an application at the personnel office.
Wage increase
In other business, commissioners approved a contract for county jail guards granting a 3 percent wage increase for three consecutive years.
The contract with Teamsters Local 250, which represents the 33 jail guards, is retroactive to Jan. 1 and expires Dec. 31, 2005.
Boyle said the increase is in line with that given other county employees.
The guards have been working under an extension of the old contract. Also Thursday, commssioners authorized renewal of a software, support and maintenance agreement for mobile data terminals in sheriff's and county police cars at a cost of $7,992. The system, provided by Aether, a Marlborough, Mass., company, is 70 percent grant-funded, with the remainder paid by the county and participating municipalities.
Commissioners also:
UAgreed to advertise for bids on a maintenance contract for the county's seven flood-control dams.
UVoted 2-1 to approve the temporary transfer of an employee to replace court administrator Georgia Hinkson during a two-week vacation. Commissioners Gene Brenneman and Kenneth Seamans voted for the motion, but Commissioner Olivia Lazor voted against giving the replacement her regular $11.79 hourly wage plus approximately a $100 weekly stipend because the employee is taking on a higher level of duties than she regularly does. Lazor said the court administrator's job is under state jurisdiction and the state should pay any additional remuneration. She added that giving the replacement a stipend instead of just paying the regular hourly rate for additional hours worked sets a bad precedent.