Court administrator change in limbo in Northumberland County
SUNBURY - Northumberland County President Judge William H. Wiest is "frustrated" that he's not received any correspondence from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) since January about his request to fire county court administrator Brandy Yasenchak, who has been on family medical leave since the middle of February.
"I've heard absolutely nothing from the AOPC and I'm frustrated," Wiest said Thursday afternoon. "I am pleased with how well deputy court administrator Kevin O'Hearn and video information technology coordinator Amy Johns have operated the office despite only having two people working."
Wiest, who became the new president judge in early January following the retirement of Robert B. Sacavage, said at that time he planned on making significant changes in the court that included terminating Yasenchak, an attorney who has held the position for 11 years.
The county court administrator is responsible for coordinating all court operations, including scheduling of legal proceedings under the supervision of the president judge.
Yasenchak, who reserved comment when contacted Thursday and referred all questions to the AOPC, reportedly plans to stay on family medical leave until late May, when her 12 weeks of leave expire.
Art Heinz, communications coordinator for the AOPC in Harrisburg, said he was not aware of any search being conducted to replace Yasenchak. He noted the matter is a personnel issue.
O'Hearn said, "It's been difficult and very busy with only two of us running the office. There's a lot of work to be done."
He reserved further comment about Yasenchak's leave and Wiest's request to terminate his boss.
The position of judicial administrative assistant in the court administrator's office formerly held by Melinda Knepp was eliminated by the county salary board earlier this year. Knepp's last day of work was March 7. She had been employed in the office since Feb. 28, 2005, and earned a salary of $33,182.
In January, Wiest said he notified Yasenchak that he submitted a request to Pennsylvania Court Administrator Zygmont A. Pines to fire her. If Pines finds merit in Wiest's request, he can recommend to Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that Yasenchak be terminated.
Wiest said the last correspondence he received from Pines in January stated that his request was being taken under consideration.
Yasenchak, who served as Sacavage's law clerk for two years prior to becoming court administrator, receives a salary of approximately $64,000.
Wiest previously said he had a candidate in mind to replace Yasenchak if his request is granted, but preferred not to release that person's identity. He did say his nominee, who would have to be approved by Pines and Castille, is a lawyer.
As president judge, Wiest has the authority to make a request for a new court administrator. Wiest is a Republican while Yasenchak, like Sacavage, is a Democrat.
Yasenchak and O'Hearn are state employees, while Johns is a county non-bargaining worker.