Recruiting and Retention Task Force

Tuesday, January 17, 2023 - 11:00 AM


Joe Pete Wilson - Chairman


Chairman Wilson called this task force to order at 12:12 pm with the following in attendance: Stephanie DeZalia, Jim Dougan, Ken Hughes, Steve McNally, Jim Monty, Joe Pete Wilson, Jen Mascarenas, and Chelsea Merrihew.


Also present: Dina Garvey



WILSON: Alright, we have a small-dedicated group here. So, we donít have to spend a lot of time, because my real goal here, the agenda is really focused on how do we wrap up this task force and lay out a concrete path to follow.

So, weíve talked a little bit. We have budgeted funds. The next thing on the agenda, I started a draft summary report and recommendations from all the conversations weíve had. The goals for that are summing up some of the ground weíve covered. The ideas we had and finding a home base, you know someone to see this through, so itís not always a task force in here. That it finds a home in the right place and that that group can follow-up in the work.

So, and Steve got your idea. I recorded your idea about the weekly paychecks and Jen is that something you can look at, like how that, what would be cost? Are we able to manage?


MASCARENAS, JEN: Yeah, I can check into that.


WILSON: Yeah, thank you. So, one of my fears is if this Committee keeps meeting, every meeting weíre going to get a new idea and weíre not going to be able to keep track of and follow through on some of the ideas. So, from Jenís report this morning, I just quickly did the math and right now weíre at approximately 15% of the workforce is vacant. So, this issue isnít going away. So, we really need to make this, rather than a task force, a permanent, ongoing work that weíre doing.

So, Iím going to get a draft of the summary recommendations report, send it out to you to look at. So, I want some feedback from this committee. I want us to produce something we can give to the Full Board. So, if, you know when you get the report, email me or whatever your comments are and Iíll incorporate them.

We handed out the marketing strategy document, last time and thatís going to part of the overall recommendations. Just to get a few things for the report. If we find a home for this, when should be reconvene this Task Force to evaluate? Or do we need to? Do we just leave that with the home? I am looking for some feedback back on that, if anyone has opinions.


MONTY: I think we should reconvene it at times, so we can, as a group go over what is being done, so the task force can make a formal recommendation. We donít have to meet, I think, monthly. Just when we have something, somethingís been presented that we need more opinion on. Just my thought.


WILSON: So, if we find a permanent home in a committee would it be enough for the Task Force to meet like once a year? Or once a quarter? Again, Iím looking for ideas, what do you think?


MONTY: I would say once a quarter. Just my thought. We tend, which I found in the housing, we tend to, when weíre meeting once a month, we spin our wheels a lot and go over the same stuff, over and over. Which I think is what youíre feeling.




MONTY: And I think once we present our recommendation on the Land Bank, I see us closing that up, that task force and then put it into a normal committee where it fits accordingly and if you need to convene, you bring it back. Just my thinking.


HUGHES: I think the task force has been like the repository of great ideas; right? And those great ideas are not going to stop happening. People are going to have experiences so those ideas are still going to come about. So, maybe the task force maintains its authority for a repository for those ideas and then we discuss here to which committee or to which department or which personnel should take that on, based on our collective conversations. But, I donít think we need to meet monthly, I do like the idea of quarter or we can just kind of gather and disseminate, just gather and disseminate.




DOUGAN: I would agree. We have other committees that donít meet every month that are still standing committees when we need them. Later this month, the Fish Hatchery Committee is going to meet for the first time in a few years, because we have some specific things that we have to talk about; okay? So, I think to keep it as a committee, per se and then as things come up, you know this once a month thing is tough, because we see some of the same faces at all the committee meetings we are preparing all the documents and it can become overwhelming when youíre trying to get your other jobs done. So, we can make some, like you said, make a report, recommendation to the Board, keep this available and other thoughts and ideas are going to come up. You know, I think, we donít necessarily need to talk, for example on what you just handed out, education pipeline every month, but in a few months we might have more to talk about again on what we accomplished.


HUGHES: And to piggyback on that, I think, I created this document, because of something you said a month ago and it was a great idea and I wanted to try and run with it just to give it some energy, but I feel like this document really should be in the Personnel Committee and Iím not looking to make more work for Stephanie as the Chair or you, as the Department Head, but I believe I want to make more work for that committee and take something like this and funnel it to them and let them hash those ideas out and take it from there. You know, again, ideas to committees, to departments, to whatever.


MONTY: And to piggyback on that, Ken, I love Jimís idea, I love that paper. Last week I had a conversation with a teacher from next door, who is a good friend of mine. Who they now have a new guidance counselor. It is no longer Derek. Itís I canít think what the womanís name is, it was originally, she was a guidance counselor at Seton.




MONTY: When through some family stuff, took a year off, she came back here, because Derek left and went to Beekmantown, I believe and she reached out to Aubrey, if she knew anybody that could generate some interest in kids that arenít necessarily ready to go to college. I said, does she know about the program that Jimís got with one of the students from Boquet Valley and they knew nothing, ironically, this teacher, heís one of her students and she didnít about it. And so I gave the information, contact Jim on this and I think itís something that can conceivably work, not only for Boquet Valley, but any school district in Essex County. I think this is a tremendous avenue for us to potentially fill some of those jobs.


WILSON: Yeah and so that brings up the picture. Like what youíve got here, Ken. What youíre talking about is how do we sustain something like that? I look at North Country Community College as a model. They do the kind of marketing to bring people in that we can copy from. They have their recruitment people go into the schools. Like how do we build whoís going to do it? Whoís going to be actually out there pounding the pavement, you know, connecting with the schools? Is it reasonable to expect that from department heads? Is it productive in some departments? I donít know. You know, how do we have a clear, develop a clear consistent relationship thatís going to feed that pipeline?


HUGHES: Is this a rhetorical question?


WILSON: No, this is somethingÖ


HUGHES: Because I presented an idea to that. I think if you finish asking the question I am happy to respond. Again, I still think this conversation should happen at the Personnel Committee level, but if the questionís on the table, right now, I think the answer is we donít use the department heads right away. We have to establish those relationships between the County Manager, maybe the Chair of the Committee or somebody else, one or two people. We get them to sit down with those presidents or with those organizations, here, say, hey, weíre Essex County, weíre representatives of Essex County. We want to establish a school to work program. Here are the programs that we are looking at. Here are the departments where we have the need. We just want to get the relationship started and then we send our surrogates out. Those surrogates talk, so it could be the Department of Social Services. We get Angie to have a conversation with the department head up there. So, we at least establish a relationship and say, oh, hereís our person, hereís our person, we get those two on the phone and they have that conversation, but all under the umbrella of the County Manager and a board chair, a board member.


WILSON: Yeah, because thereís both county and regional workforce development committee thatís been meeting for 20 years.


HUGHES: I forget about that.


WILSON: Yeah and so thatís already got that structure there. If weíre going to send somebody to that, who goes? Because thatís already there, itís the schools, the colleges, employers, the federal and state supported employment and training people. Itís there to do workforce development. So, thatís part of why I ask, if weíre going to have department heads, are they all going to go to workforce development or you know, whoís going to be that point of contact for the County at that top level that then spreads it out to a department head or to the County Manager or to Personnel. I think to be effective in those settings weíve got to have someone attending those workforce development meetings, building relationships with CV Tech. you know, itís got to be one person that can relay, oh, I know this program would fit DPW, this program we could train clerks that would work in DMV. Itís somebody whoís going to be your sorting and your bid picture to make that really sustainable and effective. Thatís the question and I know thereís not an easy answer weíre going to take to come up with that.


DOUGAN: I agree with that. I would love to see Kenís suggestion work. For myself, Iím in triage mode, right now is how Iím feeling. You know if it would go back through the years Iíve been here, thereís a number of good things that weíve done that weíve done there at DPW that I would love to take credit for, my people take credit for, but the thing thatís going to hurt everything that Iíve put in place for budgeting, constant budgeting, bridge plans and building plans and all these other things, if I donít have anybody to fill the jobs it doesnít matter. I can have the best plans in the world, but I canít fill the jobs and what Iíve learned is that really the workers out there, I have to go make them familiar with me just about as early as I can. I really think that the educational pipeline is my best avenue; okay?




DOUGAN: And so I almost feel like I have to be there. I would prefer it was somebody else, but like I said, Iím triage mode.


WILSON: And I think youíre farer down this pathway though, too. You know this is pretty structured and youíve already started to build, youíve got a student coming in. Youíre in a more hands on point. How do we get other departments feeding into that?


DEZALIA: I am just thinking about what Jim just said about this friend that you talked to, a new guidance counselor and also I am looking at this list that Jen just handed out. Jim went to CV Tech. Jimís people are at CV Tech, but yet there maybe 5 other seniors or juniors that are talking to a guidance counselor that arenít going to CV Tech, theyíre taking Regents courses. Theyíre taking college courses in their junior and senior year, they donít want to go to college. But, they might see this list that Jen gives us all the time, 76 things listed here and the guidance counselor has to be responsible to sit down and say, well, I hear what youíre saying, how about working for the County, in this department, because it sounds like you would like to work with children or families? I mean I feel like the guidance counselors are a good spot, but it needs to be a personal experience with a guidance counselor, first, to say, do you have someone coming in talking to you, that really isnít ready for college, but look at this list that we have right here. I donít think guidance counselors have this list in front of them like this. They might be getting the, every time you have an opening, Iím not even sure that they.


MASCARENAS, JEN: They are submitted to all the schools. We have set-up a job fair, well; Moriah School has setup a job fair, April 6th. So, we can go met with the students, like you said, that arenít interested in college after graduation. I agree, I think guidance counselors, I can tell you right now, there are kids as young as, you know, sophomores, that they kind of know that they arenít interested already.


DEZALIA: A lot of those arenít going through CV Tech, theyíre graduating or theyíre even sometimes taking Regents and college courses, but thatís just because thatís what theyíre being told to do. But, if they see this list that all these jobs are available, as soon as they graduate, well not all of them, some are degree jobs, but a lot of them could be. So, we have to have that link there.


WILSON: Yeah and those are excellent ideas and youíre right, that list could be a good jumping off point, but what I learned from, a little bit, from talking to the college, from working in that setting is because the guidance counselors are so busy that somebodyís got to be there reminding them. Just getting it in the mail, it just wonít be enough. They need to associate it with a face, somebody they can ask questions.


MONTY: I couldnít agree more with whatís being talking about here. I think, going back to the original question, again, I hate putting more work on Jen, but in this case, sheís the one with her finger on the pulse of all the jobs available. So, she should be at the top of the ladder and then come down appropriately, but I think conversation with Dr. Davey and Dr. Friedman at CV Tech and BOCES is imperative that we get a hold of them, so they know what weíre trying to do and again, itís going to affect Clinton County, because I imagine Clinton Countyís having the same issues as we are and I know from talking to people that I know in the education field, whatís happening with a lot of your guidance counselors, theyíre being the Dean of Students, so theyíre in charge of discipline. Theyíre getting so many levels of responsibilities, that really, other thanto say here, you need to go to college, you need to look at this, you need to look at this. I donít know how to fix that within the school districts, I really donít, but if we give them this list and say, you know what, thereís jobs on here that they could work and do and eventually they may want to take it to the next level and go to a school to get a degree, because that degree is going to increase their earning power. I really think this giving to the BOCES, CV Tech administration level and say, look; this is what weíre really pushing for. Weíve got availability to hire these kids and learn on the job. I mean it may not necessarily benefit the County, but it may benefit one the communities within the County which would then, I mean I have a vacant laborer position Iíve had for almost a year now and I canít get anybody to step up for it. I just think itís a good way to go and keep pushing down this road I think itís going to help.


HUGHES: Jen, what are the barriers to entry for a job on that list? Is it a just a job interview? Civil Service exam?


MASCARENAS, JEN: Well, first of all we have to have a title.




MASCARENAS, JEN: Jim just created a mechanic intern. So, most of these, if youíre talking about that type of a position it would have to be created prior to hiring.




MASCARENAS, JEN: So, thereís that.


HUGHES: I am more than happy, as a former educator to work with somebody, it shouldnít be by myself to go with somebody to represent the County to CV Tech to talk to, I donít know the doctor that you just mentioned, but I do know Michelle. Michelle Friedman is the former principal in Westport and I know her well, we served at the same time. I would be more than happy to go up with somebody and establish this conversation. Because I know, the question Iím going to get is what are the barriers to entry. I want to make it so itís a seamless transition. You graduate and I put this on here specifically, you graduate from the National Resources Management program which is doing backhoe, bulldozer, excavating, welding, all of this stuff that I would know, I know would benefit Jim and would benefit that department and give them a one way shot right into our county, minimum barriers without breaking the law, how can we lose at that?


MERRIHEW, CHELSEA: I was going to say, if you come up with a standard presentation for that. Something that you could translate into a pamphlet or something. Something that we can give out at DMV when people are coming in to take their permit tests or at the County Clerkís office for passports, when youíre getting those kids when theyíre 16, 17, 18 years old, you know, outside of the school. As a reminder that this is available.


HUGHES: And that goes back to marketing and branding and I would love to see the Personnel Committee maybe with the County Manager to identify an organization that can create that kind of strategy, because the pamphlets are great for the people that are coming in there, because itís a take a grab.




HUGHES: You know and theyíre captured, right there. Itís one tool in our toolbox to get the word out, but Iím volunteering to push this forward. I believe in what Jim said and what Jim said in the reply email, great idea, try to make a little bit better and then move it to try and make it a little bit better, we all win here.


WILSON: Thank you


HUGHES: Absolutely


MONTY: Quick question for my own knowledge. Where do people sign up for unemployment? To get their employment benefits.


MERRIHEW, CHELSEA: I think thatís a State.


WILSON: Yeah, thatís a State.


MONTY: Are we sending this list of opening jobs to that agency?


MASCARENAS, JEN: I believe we do.


MONTY: I wasnít sure about that. I mean, youíre claiming unemployment, look at these jobs available to you. Not saying theyíre going to take it, but.


WILSON: And thatís something, the State representation sits on that workforce development committee, from State Office for Employment. So, thatís, itís great that youíre willing to get the education pipeline rolling, thatís awesome.


HUGHES: Absolutely, but I want somebody else with me. I wonít do it by myself. There should be somebody else with me, Iím just a member, Iím not a committee Chair, Iím not anything. I need somebody else who has more authority to come and represent the County with me.


WILSON: Alright


DEZALIA: Just thinking, I really like that video that had Angie Allen and it had multiple people from the County talking about what they do. I donít know where that was actually going to go and end up. Do you know the video that was presented?


WILSON: It is for their recruitment to go on their website.


DEZALIA: For the County website.


WILSON: I think theyíre using it on their Facebook.


MONTY: Wasnít it Public Health?




DOUGAN: It was part of the BRIEF


DEZALIA: Okay, so I was wondering where that was going to be. Because I see that as recruitment. Too.


HUGHES: Absolutely


WILSON: Oh yeah.


DEZALIA: So, I envision a little bit, not to put more on Jen or myself, okay, Iím the Personnel Committee Chairperson, but for Iím looking at the three of us, I envision coming up with some kind of program. Say, you had from my area, Schroon Lake/North Hudson area, Linda Beers is from there, myself, Iím sure, if you look at the County thereís multiple other people from that region that work for the County and have for a long time, have worked their up, have done different things, that can go to present to that, not only the guidance counselor, but those that are important, maybe some of the teachers that are important to those and maybe some of the 9-12 kids and have this list to say, as soon as you graduate, these are the things that you could apply for. Obviously, these are the things if you go to a 2-year college you can apply for. I think a kid seeing somebody they know can mean something more.


WILSON: And Stephanie thatís a great idea, but what we need is a step above that. Thatís opening that door, because they go through, the counselors have sort of a cycle they go through, too and weíve got to be able to schedule that. Weíve got to have the contacts at the school. I think to set that up, we still need someone slotted in there, thatís job it is to build and maintain relationships with schools, doing the job fair, you know overseeing the marketing, all of that stuff. I think the more we dice it up and hand it out, based on whoís willing to do it, as people change, you know, if itís not part of a job, if itís just something theyíre taking on, itís going to fall apart.


HUGHES: I think focusing on trades is really important.


WILSON: Yeah, thatís a good natural place. Youíre already building those relationships. It will serve us for a lot of other recruitment. Recruiting other jobs.


DOUGAN: I donít want to focus so much on what Iím doing because a lot of my people are little more blue collar in nature than many of the other departments. So, it can be a little different in focus, but Iím actually taking the job descriptions that are online, some other ones that Jenís helping me create. I contact at CV Tech is Sherri Snow is, sheís kind of the job placement person, is really what it says in her title and Iím going to give her all my different positions.


HUGHES: Jim, maybe youíre the logical person to go up with me, because you serve two roles; youíre the Deputy County Manager.


DOUGAN: Iím not sure thatísÖ


HUGHES: No, no, no, but youíre also the head of DPW; right? And you have direct relationship to the programs that go on there and youíre a direct recipient of any positives coming out of that.


DOUGAN: Iíll do it, like I said, Iím in triage mode, as far as CV Tech, here is Moriah, okay? Iím talking to Chris LaCroix who is the Natural Resources Management Teacher.


HUGHES: Okay, good.


DOUGAN: Iím talking to Kevin Shaw who is the Buildings Trades one. Weíre trying to, basically infuse myself or some others into a few of their classes. Jodi Olcott from the IDA is asking the Natural Resources Management group to do some work over at the business park, which is right across the road. I am offering up some of my guys and our services, so they work along with us with some of our equipment when we do it. Which is I guess taking me away from other work, but itís that investment.


HUGHES: Can we go into those people with a sweeter ask?


DOUGAN: Sure, why not.


HUGHES: Because I think thatís what we need to do. We need a sweeter ask. Weíve got 78 job openings. I need to know that we can walk in there with a bigger lollipop.


DOUGAN: I would like to go to CV Tech, in Mineville.




DOUGAN: And offer them one of my trucks.




DOUGAN: To do CDL training.


HUGHES: Yup, yup


DOUGAN: They do it in Plattsburgh, they donít do it here. It seems like, nothing against Plattsburgh, but it seems like theyíre trying to keep the program there.




DOUGAN: And but, theyíve got trucks to do it in Plattsburgh. I would offer them one of my trucks, I mean if the Board allowed me to. All these things are on the table, I think, right now for me. I donít know how that helps your report.


WILSON: So, I feel like Iíve got the information I need to start a draft. You guys are going to talk about a school visit.


HUGHES: If youíre okay with that. If Jimís all right with that.


WILSON: If Jim doesnít have time or canít do it, let me know.


DOUGAN: Iím in triage.


WILSON: Youíre going to look at the payroll. This is what I donít want to do, have this be every meeting, we just are tackling new ideas, because weíre not wrapping up. Weíre not accomplishing anything.


HUGHES: Let us do our work and then report back to the Personnel Committee in a month.


WILSON: Okay, but Iím going to get a draft summary report and recommendations for everybody to look at. So, hopefully we can that out to the Full Board, too.


HUGHES: I would like to suggest that, I think youíre report is really important, because you need to let the County know what youíre thinking about when it comes to sun setting some of the responsibilities that we have. Thatís got to be seen, not closing it, but just sun setting it.


WILSON: Yeah and we have a plan for actually putting some stuff in place, too. So, let me work on that. Iíll get it to you, hopefully, middle of next week, so thereís time to correspond back and forth and weíll see what Iíve left out, what Iíve not explained clearly. Any new ideas, maybe have some feedback from your conservation. So, does that seems like a goodÖ


DEZALIA: Is that what youíre calling the marketing strategy?


WILSON: No, so that, we started that draft and then I realized that thatís just focused on marketing. So, that marketing strategy will be within the overall recommendations. I realized that just the marketing is only a small portion of what weíve been talking about. So, that will be included in the overall summary and recommendations.


MERRIHEW: Iím curious; didnít the County create a few years ago, a position for marketing the fairgrounds?


HUGHES; Yes, Holly Aquino.


MERRIHEW: Is there anywhere on the table where that would be a potential for us, as a County as a whole? I mean thereís a lot of stuff that weíre talking about that seems like a long-term job.


WILSON: Oh yeah, thatís the point Iíve been trying to make. That yes, that we need somebody.


MERRIHEW, CHELSEA: Maybe thatís part of our presentation. How we think that there is enough work and long enough.


WILSON: Especially when you combine it with like ShaunĎs idea of needing an information officer and thatís what Iím leaning towards is that, because right now, Jenís staff in PersonnelÖ


MERRIHEW, CHELSEA: Theyíre busy enough with what they have.


WILSON: Yeah, if we just try and add more, weíre not going to be successful with carrying these things forward.


HUGHES: One of my recommendations, Chelsea is to have, would be to hire out an RFP for a professional marketing organization to actually do the work for us, but to have an internal person, potentially Holly, who would be the liaison between the Committee and that organization.


MERRIHEW, CHELSEA: I think that makes a lot of sense.


HUGHES: Because you need to have somebody locally who can help all the departments kind of organize themselves. Each department shouldnít be doing it on their own and you need to have somebody that has a little bit of the county culture. You need to understand the culture of the county and whatís going on at the county and they have to be respected by the committee under the Board to whom they report. So, thatís been my vision for it, but I really think weíve got to push this out to a professional marketing organization to do this and I still want to say, I love what North Country Community College is doing and they have that model and itís working really great. Why we canít do that?


MERRIHEW, CHELSEA: To me it just makes sense. Youíre going to get better product.


HUGHES: Yup, absolutely, professional




HUGHES: Pamphlets, all the way up to radio, television, news, you know.


WILSON: And that person is building these relationships.




WILSON: And is going, like instead of you setting up the job fair, you know thatís part of their responsibility. So, it can be done consistently and gain, you know, experience and do it better and better, because I donít think we could just say, okay, Jen, here, your department has to do all of this. Thereís no way and we canít keep doing it via this task force, either. It canít be use volunteering.


DEZALIA: So, what youíre saying is a marketing and organization to first to come up with our marketing plan and actually do the marketing? But, then weíll also hire, have somebody that works for the County, takes care of that?


WILSON: Would be overseeing it, really.


DEZALIA: Overseeing it?


WILSON: Say our marketing strategy is sound, everyday says, this is what we want to do. That we put it out to bid, we end up hiring, whoever, company X, the specialist here is going to be reviewing the timelines, the data collection. Like what we saw from North Country Community College. They sent us a 76-page report of the demographics of what their advertising is doing.


HUGHES: Their report is awesome.


WILSON: Somebodyís got to be able to go through that and say, okayÖ


HUGHES: Make recommendation on where we should spend our money, how did radio do versus newspaper versus scrolling versus Instagram, you know and just be able to interrupt that with the background that they have and then make recommendation for us, the Board and the communities on how to spend that money.


WILSON: And seeing, yeah, itís working for DPW, we got something working there. Itís not working for Social Services, what do you need to change, you know somebody whoís hands on it with it and itís definitely not something I feel like Iíve got the skills or the time to do that, as a week in, week out job.


MERRIHEW, CHELSEA: Itís a long term program, itís not going away.


HUGHES: Right, right


WILSON: Itís only going to get more dramatic, I think as we face retirements, especially as the next wave. I mean weíre facing that in our town and I think we want to be ahead of this and we want to have our name out there as that wave of retirements hit. So, thatís absolutely, I think, going to critical in this being successful or this just being sort of hit or miss.


MERRIHEW, CHELSEA: And when do we make that recommendation?


WILSON: Iíve been taking notes through this whole conversation and itís going in that draft.




WILSON: thatís an example of the, the marketing strategy is going to be in there. You know sustainability, thatís the word Iíve been thinking of, how do we sustain this and part of it needs a committee home, part of it needs a person whoís accountable for this. Theyíre being paid to work on this. Weíre not carving them off of, well, letís grab whoeverís available for 5 minutes and try and get them.


HUGHES: A committee has that authorization where a task force may not.


WILSON: So, yeah, absolutely, Iíve been getting more notes to add to my thoughts, so thatís what I want to put out in that summary report and recommendations is concrete stuff like that.


MONTY: That BRIEF video that we saw, that was produced by Stephanie down in Public Health.


WILSON: Stephanie Miller was the County employee who was overseeing it, but the actual production was Great Range.




WILSON: They hired a consultant or a specialist or whatever, a contractor to write the scripts and film it and line up all the people and edit it.

Alright any other thoughts? Thank you for sticking this out. Thanks for the good ideas. I think I got fuel for a good report. So, I will get that out to you, as soon as I can. We are adjourned.








Respectively Submitted,




Dina L. Garvey, Deputy

Clerk of the Board