LIMA — The Allen County Job and Family Services has a new director effective Monday. The Allen County commissioners appointed Joe Patton as director during Thursday’s commissioner meeting.
Patton replaces Steve Barker, who served in the department for four decades, including the last four as director. Barker retired from the agency at the end of this year.
Patton worked at the agency for more than 20 years in various capacities, most recently as assistant director under Barker.
Commissioners Cory Noonan and Greg Sneary addressed Patton, thanking him for accepting the appointment and telling him he had big shoes to fill.
Patton took the floor expressing a continuing desire to work with businesses in the community and thanking the commissioners on their succession planning.
“I would like to thank the commissioners first and foremost for taking succession planning seriously in the county,” Patton said. “Especially in an agency like this, there are just so many rules and regulations to get your feet under, and having the foresight to make that transition well ahead of time. We’ve done a great job and have a great team in place.”
Looking forward to his 2018 goals, Patton hoped to get leadership training in place for the agency.
“I want to get succession planning internally, keep things moving forward in a positive direction,” Patton said.
Improving the flow of business through better website development and social media, such as Facebook, is important to Patton.
“Bring more technology into what we do,” he said. “Right now we’re pretty much an agency where you have to come in and see us or do business over the phone with us. Trying to get more of an online presence where you can submit your documents through email and things like that to make it easier for our customers and sister agencies, like Coleman Professional and Goodwill. They will be able to access our applications online and help their clientele fill them out.”
Getting positions filled for employers and helping others find jobs is essential to Patton, but not at the expense or threat of losing a benefit that holding a job would entail.
“We have more jobs than people at the present time. We have 1,200 jobs available right now in a 10-mile radius of Lima,” Patton said. “I think the biggest thing to help fill the jobs is some possible welfare reform. To not take away benefits from people, but help bridge that gap and make work more attractive by adding some incentives. We want a couple year transition to get them at that higher wage and get them on their feet so they can see that stuff (public assistance) in the rear-view mirror eventually.”
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.