SANDUSKY — Erie County’s new mental health and recovery board has hired a woman with deep Sandusky roots to serve as its new director.
Diane Taylor, who has served as interim executive director for the ADAMHS Board of Erie County, was named executive director, beginning Jan. 1. Her contract runs through the end of June 2023, when the next fiscal year will end. She’ll earn $98,000 a year.
Also at Tuesday’s regular board meeting, held at Erie County’s downtown office building, board officials announced they’ve sold the board’s old building at 1907 E. Perkins Ave. The building sold for $340,000 to Tarina Sidoti, who owns Realty Executives Select Group.
Taylor is a Sandusky High School graduate who moved back to Sandusky in 2017 and took a job serving as the criminal justice director for the mental health board in Cuyahoga County, working with the judges there and other court officials.
In 2018, she was named deputy director of what was then the Mental Health and Recovery of Erie and Ottawa counties. When the director, Brenda Cronin, left in summer 2021 as the Erie County commissioners dissolved the agency and replaced it with a new one, Taylor was named interim executive director.
Watching Taylor serve as the interim director gave the board confidence she’d do well as director, said Tom Tucker, chairman of the ADAMHS board.
“We all assumed it would go as well as it did,” Tucker said.
And because Taylor also had served as deputy director, “it isn’t like we’ve only known her for six months,” Tucker said.
He said Taylor has forged good relationships with local providers of mental health and substance abuse services.
“She’s really reached out and knows a lot of the local providers and has a lot of credibility with them,” Tucker said.
Taylor thanked the board and told the Register that serving as the interim director has been a joy.
It allows her to serve the community she lives in, noted Taylor, who lives in Sandusky.
Taylor said she has three goals moving forward as the new director.
One is for the ADAMHS board to be fiscally sound. The second is to provide an array of services to address the needs of the community.
The third is to help local providers address workforce issues.
That’s an issue Taylor spoke about earlier in the meeting, explaining that local providers have been struggling to have enough nurses, case managers and other employees.
This isn’t a problem peculiar to Erie County, as health care employers all over have staffing problems.
“This is a state issue. I venture to say it’s a national issue,” Taylor said.
And the issue comes as drug overdoses have risen during the pandemic, and young people have struggled with mental health issues.
“We have an increase in demand, and a decrease in the number of providers who can provide the service,” Taylor said.
Taylor said she proposes to hold a summit with local providers early next year, to discuss if there is a way to partner better to share staff and resources and figure out where the gaps are.
The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has pledged to provide money to help with workforce issues, for example by paying for interns, Taylor said.
The sale of the former board offices at 1907 E. Perkins Ave. ends the last joint program of the former two-county board for Erie and Ottawa counties. The $340,000 from the sale will be split between the two counties, with 52% going to Erie County and 48% going to Ottawa County.
The property did not pay taxes when it was owned by the local government agency and it will pay taxes now that it’s owned by a private business.
“It moves on the tax rolls and contributes to the tax base of the county,” said Caleb Stidham, Erie County’s treasurer.
On Facebook, Tarina Sidoti announced that the building, a former Civista bank branch before the mental health board occupied it, will be the new location for her real estate offices.
“We are so excited to announce the Grand Opening of our new location this April! We can't wait to share the new space with you and meet in ‘The Vault’ - where we can talk all things real estate, no appointments needed!” Sidoti wrote.
Sidoti told the Register the real estate company she bought two years ago, Realty Executives Select Group, has grown from four agents to 21 and has outgrown its current space. The movers will show up Thursday, she said.
The vault in the former bank building will be turned into a space resembling a coffee bar where clients are invited to hang out, and the teller spaces in the former drive through area will be enclosed and used for storage.
Sidoti said her company has often been tops in sales in the area.
“We need more space,” she said.
New mental health board begins
SANDUSKY — Erie County’s new mental health board started operations with new officers and a slimmed-down staff.
The new agency began operations on Friday. It met and elected Tom Tucker as the chairman, Rob Quinn as the vice-chairman, Lisa Crescimano as the finance chairman and Steve Poggiali as the planning chairman.
Tucker, no stranger to dealing with organizations that handle public money, is a former school superintendent in Sandusky and Lorain. His education career also included working as a band director and school principal.
The board also approved contracts with service providers to run through December, and it extended Diane Taylor's contract as interim executive director through Dec. 31.
"Everybody's really happy with Diane at this point," Tucker said.
The board eventually plans to hire an executive director under a two year contract; Taylor has indicated she would be interested.
The board’s next meeting will be at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 19 at the Erie County Services Center. The new board will have regular meetings on the third Tuesday of each month, Taylor said.
The board’s staff now consists of two people, down from four when it worked for a two-county board for Erie and Ottawa counties. The current staff is Taylor and Patty Notestine, the office manager. Maria Robinson, the chief financial officer, resigned to accept a new job, Taylor said.
Hiring a new CFO is the job of the executive director, not the board, Tucker said. In the meantime, the board has contracted for the mental health board for Seneca, Sandusky, Wyandot and Ottawa counties to help with handling finances on a temporary basis.
Tucker said the board will be busy working on its bylaws and studying contracts with its providers, with an aim toward approving six-month contracts for the first half of 2022. The board's normal fiscal year runs from July 1 to the end of June.
The staff moved a few weeks ago into offices at the services center, 2900 Columbus Ave. The telephone number for the agency remains the same, 419-627-1908.
The building that housed the board’s former offices, at 1907 E. Perkins Ave., is for sale. The building has not sold yet and the board has not yet received a good offer for it, Taylor said.
The board is operating with 11 members and has three vacancies. Board members named by the Erie County commissioners are Tucker, Rob Quinn, Alex Jones, Marie Hildebrandt and Steve Poggiali. The state named the Rev. Herman Robinson, Crescimano, Clifton Frisby, Alexis Lewis, Katheryn Mueller and Evelyn Quinn.
That leaves three vacancies on the 11-member board.
“We have not appointed the remainder of the members. We are hopeful the state will allow us to continue to shrink the board,” county commissioner Matt Old said last week.
The new board was created after county commissioners voted to split off a former board serving Erie and Ottawa counties. Ottawa County now belongs to a board that serves Sandusky, Seneca, Wyandot and Ottawa counties.
New mental health board sets meeting dates
SANDUSKY — The ADAMHS Board of Erie County, as Erie County’s mental health agency is now known, is in business.
The new board held its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, mostly taking action on various measures to continue its transition from the former Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties.
When it abolished the old board, the Erie County commissioners chose the name of the new board, the Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services Board of Erie County.
All of the new board’s regular monthly meetings will be at 4:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month and on the third floor of Erie County’s downtown office building. The board’s meeting for December has been moved to Dec. 14.
The board agreed Tuesday to hire Caleb Stidham, the Erie County treasurer, to work part time, for 20 hours a week, as a staff person to handle marketing for the board and coordinating with the Erie County commissioners.
Stidham, who has experience with marketing in his work as a political consultant, is overseeing the creation of a new logo for the board, a new social media page and a new website. The new website and social media site should be up by the end of the month, Stidham said.
Stidham’s hiring brings the staffing for the new board up to 2.5 people. The two full-time employees are Diane Taylor, the interim executive director; and Patty Notestine, the office manager.
That’s down from the five full-time staffers the board had last summer. The board does plan to hire a part-time finance officer to replace Maria Robinson, the former full-time chief financial officer, who left to take a new job.
Taylor, the former deputy director, is serving as interim executive director until the end of December. But before the end of the year, it’s likely the ADAMHS Board will conclude a contract with Taylor to make her the executive director, said Tom Tucker, the chairman of the board.
The board will have to vote on the matter, but “at this point, we are planning to continue with Diane,” Tucker said.
The Erie County commissioners have taken ownership of the former board’s building at 1907 E. Perkins Ave., and it appears likely the building will be sold soon, putting it in the hands of a private owner and putting the property back on the tax rolls, Stidham reported.
The building was put up for sale at an asking price of $400,000, and the last offer received for it was for $340,000. Commissioners for both Erie and Ottawa counties believe a sale likely will be concluded soon, Stidham said.
When the building is sold, 52% of the money will go to Erie County, and 48% will go to Ottawa County, matching the distribution of levy dollars for the former two-county board, Stidham said.
Email sent to Taylor and Notestine at their old email addresses will be forwarded for several months to their new address