Attorney to lead Job and Family Services

By Sam Shawver

Special to the Times

A local attorney has been selected to take over the director’s duties at Washington County Job and Family Services as current director Tom Ballengee retires at the end of this year.

Flite Freimann begins serving as the agency’s assistant director on Oct. 2, and will move into the director post by Jan. 2.

“For three months he and I will be working together,” said Ballengee, who has served as the JFS director for the last decade.

He said those 90 days will enable Freimann to become more familiar with the agency and its day-to-day operations which include child and family support as well as employment services.

In July the Ohio Means Jobs Center was relocated to the Job and Family Services building on Gilman Avenue.

“It was a logical move, and we’ve been doing real well with that,” Ballengee said, noting just last week an Ohio company that conducted interviews at the local office hired seven people on the spot.

Ballengee’s last day at JFS will be Dec. 29, but he’s been working in the human services field for more than 43 years. He also previously served as director of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources in Wood County.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do next,” he said. “But I love Marietta and will continue to live in this area, maybe do some kind of volunteer work.”

For the last four years Freimann has been an attorney with the local Bricker and Eckler law firm office. Area residents may recognize the name as he was a candidate for Washington County Common Pleas Judge during the 2016 primary election, but lost to fellow candidate Mark Kerenyi.

“I’ve always been interested in public service,” Freimann said. “And Job and Family Services is an opportunity for me to take over a well-run public service agency. Tom has done a great job there.”

As an attorney he’s worked with the JFS office and is familiar with many of the services the agency provides. Freimann agreed that locating the Ohio Means Jobs Center at JFS was a good idea.

“We need to help people become productive and get back on their feet, and Ohio Means Jobs is an important program in that effort,” he said. “In my practice I’ve represented many small businesses, and finding and keeping qualified employees is a major concern.”

Freimann, 45, served in the U.S. Army for eight years and left the military in the rank of captain. He has worked for the Ohio Supreme Court and served as a magistrate in Morrow County.

“I treasured each of those opportunities and am really looking forward to the challenge of taking an active role in an agency like JFS,” he said.

Freimann said he will not continue to practice law while serving at JFS, but he will maintain his law license.

The JFS director serves at the will of the Washington County Commissioners, although the agency is a branch of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

“We hope Flite will build on Tom’s legacy at JFS,” said Ron Feathers, president of the Washington County Commission.

“Tom has done a great job, and has always been a man of integrity,” he said. “Whether you like it or not, he always tells the truth, and he has an excellent management skills set.”

Feathers said the commissioners advertised for the position soon after Ballengee announced his retirement. And Ballengee was included as the commissioners interviewed candidates for the job. Six resumes were submitted for the post.

Feathers said Freimann’s salary, set by the state, will be at the rate of $36 an hour, plus benefits, as assistant director. He said the director post is currently at $49 an hour, plus benefits.

New director

¯ Flite Freimann, 45, will serve as assistant director of the Washington County Job and Family Services office beginning Oct. 2.

¯ In January he will take over the director’s position currently held by Tom Ballengee, who will retire at the end of this year.

¯ Freimann has been an attorney with the local Bricker and Eckler law firm office for more than four years.

¯ Salary for the assistant director post, set by the state, is $36/hour, plus benefits. The director’s salary is $49/hour, plus benefits.

Source: Washington County Commission.