SOUTHINGTON — Health officials hope to pick a new director over the next few weeks, filling a crucial role during a pandemic.
The Plainville-Southington Regional Health District includes those two towns as well as Middlefield. The district’s former director, Shane Lockwood, left earlier this month to take a similar position in Florida.
Human resources officials in Southington and Plainville posted the job and received a dozen applicants. Town Manager Mark Sciota said they’ll go through the applications and select the top candidates for interviews with the health district board. The process could take a few weeks.
“The goal is to get somebody in as soon as possible,” Sciota said. “We need a full-timer in there as soon as we can.”
Praise for Lockwood, hopeful for replacement
Charlotte Politis, health district board vice chairwoman and a Plainville resident, said Lockwood did an “outstanding” job leading the district, particularly during the pandemic.
Other town officials met frequently with Lockwood as the coronavirus spread early last year. He was called upon for advice to interpret state regulations as leaders made decisions such as whether or not to hold last year’s Apple Harvest Festival. Lockwood also took calls from residents and business owners about changing guidelines on masks and distancing.
Lockwood was hired in 2012 to lead the newly-formed regional health district.
Politis and other board members were sad to see Lockwood go but were pleased with candidates for the job.
“We have some really good candidates so we’re really looking forward to doing interviews and seeing what happens,” she said.
Anne Marie Conaty, a Southington resident who recently joined the board, said many of those who applied are already health district directors or assistant directors. She’s looking for an experienced health director and believes the board will be able to find one in the pool of applicants.
“We want someone who can come in and take over where Shane left off,” Conaty said. “It looks like we’re getting some good quality candidates.”
Sue Jacozzi, a public health specialist with the district, is taking Shane’s most vital duties as an interim director. She has office hours in Southington and is only doing the most needed work to carry the district until a permanent director is hired.
Over the next few weeks, Sciota said officials will narrow the field and hopefully chose a new director by the end of next month. The board, which includes members from the three towns, will make the final decision.