Blankenship hired as assistant director

Published 10:14 am Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tax deadline this Friday

Following nine interviews for the assistant director of the Lawrence County Department of Job and Family Services Tuesday, Lawrence County commission hired Rich Blankenship to fill the position.

Blankenship takes over for former LCDJFS Assistant Director Christopher Collins, who resigned from the position last year.

“I’d like to say how fair the process was in hiring this position,” Commission President Bill Pratt said. “It was completely fair to each of the candidates and to those of us involved in the hiring process.”

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Each of the three commissioners, as well as LCDJFS Director Terry Porter, ranked the nine candidates, who had corresponding letters of A through I, with their favorite being the lowest letter, or number. Scioto County Department of Job and Family Services Director Paige Robbins also assisted with the hiring, sitting in on the interviews and figuring out the final tabulations.

“I want to thank Paige Robbins for helping us with the process,” Pratt said. “She didn’t know any of the candidates, which protects us politically from political pressures. When we had all of our rankings, we gave those to her and she added them up and brought back the lowest number. We don’t know what the order of the other candidates was or the totals, and we don’t want to know. All we found out was who the lowest number was for our top candidate.”

Blankenship is the Business Development and Funding Manager for E.L. Robinson Engineering, an Ironton City Councilman and the former mayor of Ironton.

“I’m very pleased that the commissioners chose me to be the assistant director. My education and background have given me the ability to be the assistant director of the agency, and I will do the very best I can for Lawrence County,” Blankenship said. “Right now, my focus is on giving full-time dedication to the Lawrence County Department of Job and Family Services.”

The others who interviewed for the position included Les Boggs, Aaron Stewart, Dane Spears, Christen Finley, John Smith, Taneka Ferguson, Jamie Murphy and Lisa Massie.

“We had fantastic candidates for the position,” Pratt said.

Lawrence County Treasurer Stephen Burcham gave a report, and said that first half tax collections this year to date are $12.415 million compared to $11.378 during the same time period last year. The tax deadline is Friday, and if mailed, must be postmarked by Friday, March 3. Payments can also be made at the Lawrence County treasurer’s office, Citizen’s Deposit Bank, City National Bank, Liberty Federal Bank, U.S. Bank or online at

Lawrence County EMS Director Buddy Fry said that EMS has handled 878 calls in February as of the Tuesday meeting, which is on pace with the 898 calls it handled in February of 2016, which had 29 days. Fry added that this past weekend, EMS treated five overdoses, including one fatal, and two on Monday.

Also a member of the Huntington Area Habitat for Humanity, Fry updated the commissioners on a house the agency is building in Rome Township, which is the 100th house the Huntington Area Habitat for Humanity has built and the second in Ohio. He said he plans on having a Lawrence County Government Build Day sometime in the near future as well, where elected officials will have the opportunity to help out with building the house.

Dave Lucas, of Dave Lucas Communication Inc., gave an update on the new Lawrence County Commissioners Facebook page he administers. The page currently has 811 likes, more than 500 page views and activity by more than 9,500 people on the page since it began within the past week. The Facebook page is

Also at commission:

• Approved and signed the weekly invoices and certificates as presented by the Auditor’s office.

• Received and filed the Dog Warden Report dated Feb. 18, 2017.

• Approved eight floodplain permits.

• Received and referred the 2017 Formula Allocation Project Request for the Village of Proctorville to the Lawrence County CAO.

• Received and filed the public notice for Lawrence County by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency regarding the Leach XPress Project.

• Approved eight transfer funds.

• Approved and signed the Ohio Department of Transportation’s annual highway mileage certification for Lawrence County as requested by Patrick Leighty, Lawrence County engineer.

• Approved the prior service credit request for the longevity and leave accrual for a DJFS employee.

Commission also met in executive session with Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, and Ralph Kline, assistant executive director of the Ironton-Lawrence County CAO, regarding real estate.