Top County Executive Director Resigns

Armstrong County commissioners would often look to Executive Director of Administration Dan Lucovich for advice in the affairs of running the county. (KP 2017 File Photo)

The chief administrator of the County of Armstrong has resigned.

Daniel Lucovich was originally hired in 2013 to replace Mary Ann Koleny as Director of Human Resources. When the current board reorganized in 2016, he was promoted to Executive Director of  Administration – a position that basically had his hands in every facet of county business.

Newly-elected county commissioners Pat Fabian, Jason Renshaw, and George Skamai leaned on his advice to guide their decisions during the first several years of their term. His position was so powerful within the framework of county government that he described his job title as the “unelected fourth commissioner” while under oath at a federal court deposition.

Rumors of his resignation have circulated for the past two weeks. Radio station WTYM filed a Right-To-Know request last week for a copy of his resignation letter to the commissioners. On Friday, Armstrong County Right-To-Know Officer Aaron S. Poole acknowledged the existence of the letter, but turned down the request, further perpetuating the cloud of secrecy surrounding that office. In addition, although Poole said the decision could be appealed within 15 days, he failed to give a current valid mailing address for  Office of Open Records in Harrisburg.  An appeal letter possibly could have been delayed, not reaching the office within the 15-day limit.

A source within the courthouse that spoke on the condition of anonymity said the effective date of the resignation is April 6.

Shortly after Lucovich becoming Human Resource Director in 2013, he was at the center of protecting County 9-1-1- Director Ron Baustert during the sexual harassment scandal that cost the county millions of dollars to litigate and pay back wages after the firing of whistle blower Marci Creel, a 20-year veteran of the emergency operating center. Baustert was never fired although he permitted sexual actions in the workplace, the lawsuit alleged.

The suit, filed in Federal Court in Pittsburgh, alleged that employees at 911 used inappropriate sexual language openly and even researched sexually explicit topics on their county-owned computer workstations. On several occasions, coworkers even watched pornographic videos. Workplace conduct included events such as a male dispatcher who was permitted by management to put whipped cream and chocolate sauce on top of his clothed body and a female co-worker ate it off him in a sexually suggestive manner, and was later promoted to supervisor. At times, these violations were done in the presence of student interns from Lenape Tech and Clarion County Career Center.

That decision to fire Creel and protect Bausert and the former county commissioners David Battaglia, Rich Fink, and Robert Bower cost the County was orchestrated by Lucovich, which the current commissioners upheld.

Daniel Lucovich has resigned from being the Director of Administration at the Armstrong County Administration building effective April 6. (KP 2016 File Photo)

Lucovich also recommended the sale, handled negotiations, and the transfer of the Health Center to Premier.

Last summer, Armstrong County Controller Myra Miller brought accusations of non-disclosure against Lucovich when he changed the public meetings to not include a detailed list of various hires and personnel changes, but rather listed them as approval of a “Personnel Transactions”, keeping the transactions from public view.

A county employee speaking on condition of anonymity said there had even been discussions that the commissioners intend to place a referendum on the ballot to dissolve the County Controller office, orchestrated by Lucovich.

Miller’s duties on the Retirement Board was moved to Lucovich. Miller was reprimanded when she attempted to talk to employees about their retirement options.

Without her knowledge, Lucovich’s office ordered thousands of dollars of new furniture for Miller’s new office. When she refused, stating she didn’t need new furniture, the requisition was changed to place it in the Planning office rather than use the current furnishings.

“The other three take their cue from Lucovich. He will be running everything pretty soon,” the employee said.

Tensions between Lucovich and the current commissioners have been mounting over the past year, with sharp words being exchanged at times in the presence of staffers or other members of the public following meetings.

Final approval by the commissioners will be forthcoming at a public meeting. There has been no public discussion concerning his replacement or a restructuring of county administration.