DSS Director’s position filled

Published 10:50 am Wednesday, April 11, 2012

GATESVILLE – The search is over for a new director of the Gates County Department of Social Services.

Geoffrey Marett of Greenville has accepted the offer of the county’s DSS Board of Directors to become its next lead officer.

Marett, a native of Smithfield, is currently employed as a Child Protective Services supervisor with the Lenoir County Department of Social Services. He received Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work degrees from East Carolina University.

His first official work day in Gates County is slated for April 19.

“Geoffrey is excited about his move here,” said current Gates County DSS Director Colleen Turner. “Our staff is excited about him joining our agency and the (DSS) board is very pleased with their selection. We’re looking forward to a smooth transition.”

Turner said Marett brings an administrative style to the table that she feels will be a good fit for Gates County DSS.

“When he arrives I will submit my official 30-day notice,” said Turner, who announced in November that she would end her 11-year stay in Gates County, thus launching the search for her replacement.

Turner’s last day in the office will be Friday, May 4. She will remain on the county’s payroll for an additional two weeks after that date to draw down her annual leave.

“I will be available, but not in the way during that time,” she said.

Turner is returning to the home of her youth in southwest Florida to be near family and to head a non-profit organization that works to improve health and well-being outcomes for at-risk youth.

There were 11 applications for the county’s DSS Director’s vacancy. At the March meeting of the commissioners they were told that of the 11 applicants, six were deemed as qualified with three judged as extremely qualified. Those top three, to include Marett, each earned an interview with the DSS Board.

In a matter related to Gates County DSS, the commissioners at the April 4 meeting approved the hiring of a part-time Office Assistant III position. Turner said that position was approved, but unfunded in the current fiscal year budget.

“It was recommended at that time if I could find the funds then we could fill that position,” Turner said. “We had some other priorities to come up, two retirements and a resignation that had some pay-out at the end. It wasn’t practical financially at that time to fill this part-time position.”

Turner said that due to a complete revision of the Medicaid transportation policy set forth by the State Division of Medical Assistance has tipped the scales in favor of filling the part-time position.

“The revision has led local departments of Social Services to bring several critical administrative functions for that program in house and my Medicaid transportation staff is struggling to meet those demands,” Turner noted. “We revisited the possibility to fill that part-time office position.”

Turner said the Gates County DSS Board gave their full support to filling that position, with hopes to later make it full-time to help meet the growing needs of the Food and Nutrition Services program as well as Medicaid transportation.

Turner added that if the commissioners agreed to fund the position, she would make sure that the person hired understands that it is a temporary, part-time position with an employment end date of June 30.

“If that position is funded for next year’s budget, then that person could apply along with the rest of the public who may be interested in a permanent part-time position,” Turner said.

If approved, Turner said the position would need two months worth of salary (roughly $2,000), with no benefits, and approximately 50 percent return in state and federal administrative money.

Commissioner John Hora motioned to approve $5,000 to fund the position (with the money coming from a $29,000 overage in county funds). Commission Vice-Chair Henry Jordan offered a second and the motion passed 3-1, with Commissioner Kenneth Jernigan opposing the measure.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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