Lucas County commissioners stepped closer yesterday to hiring a new dog warden, voting to support a screening committee's lead candidate.
By a 3-0 vote, commissioners asked County Administrator Peter Ujvagi to start contract negotiations with Julie Lyle of Ishpeming, Mich. A possible vote to approve the contract and hire her could happen within weeks, commissioners said.
Ms. Lyle was the selection committee's finalist out of 48 candidates who applied for the job after the retirement in January of longtime Dog Warden Tom Skeldon.
Ms. Lyle, who owns a dog training facility in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and also works in child day care, visited Toledo Monday to meet with commissioners, tour the dog warden facility on South Erie Street, and sit for final-round interviews.
"I witnessed many strengths and I was excited to meet her," Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak said. "She seems very passionate about our community and our dog warden [department]."
Commissioner Ben Konop said he believes Ms. Lyle is right for the job and was glad to see his col-leagues on the board support her.
"We're moving forward with a sense of urgency, which I feel is warranted," Mr. Konop said after the vote. "This is definitely a department that needs change and needs new ideas."
Mr. Konop said he was especially impressed by how Ms. Lyle has "worked her way up from the ground" in her career, starting out as a volunteer kennel cleaner and in time rising to manager of the Marquette County Humane Society near her home in Michigan.
"She's got a very inspiring story," the commissioner said. "The thing about Julie is she is someone who genuinely cares about the welfare of animals, and that is real positive change."
The commissioners' vote to start negotiations followed a closed-door executive session regarding Ms. Lyle and the position. The position's proposed salary range is $57,680 to $72,100.
Mr. Konop said after the meeting that his board colleagues seemed intent on requiring Ms. Lyle to take various training courses as part of her contract, in areas such as chemical darting, to help her adjust to dog warden service in an urban environment.
"I don't necessarily agree with each specific requirement that may be in the contract," Mr. Konop said, but added that he may be open to some of the suggestions if that's what it takes to bring in a new warden like Ms. Lyle who can bring change.
"The important thing is to get her in the job in the near future," Mr. Konop said.
Mr. Gerken could not be reached for comment after the meeting.
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