Earl F. Hill to take over as interim director of Shuman Juvenile Detention Center

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Shuman Juvenile Detention Center has a new interim director, its third leader in six months.

In an email sent to Allegheny County Council Friday, county manager William McKain said current director William S. Stickman III would be leaving to spend more time with his family.

In his place will be Earl F. Hill, a longtime child advocate who recently helped turn things around at the state Youth Development Center in New Castle.

Mr. Hill, whose career in child services spans nearly 50 years, says he’s looking forward to the challenge of running Shuman, a troubled facility that only recently succeeded in receiving a clean bill of health from the state Department of Public Welfare.

“I feel like my gas tank is not empty. I have a lot of energy,” said Mr. Hill, 68. “With the fast pace of the Shuman Center, I think I have a lot to offer.”

Over the past year, Shuman has seen its license put in jeopardy, a criminal assault on a resident and firing of both director William T. “Jack” Simmons and deputy director Lynette Drawn Williamson.

Mr. Stickman, the former warden of the Allegheny County Jail, was called to put things in order. To a certain degree, he has: Shuman is back to a full license and has begun facility renovations.

With Mr. Stickman’s exit — he recently became grandfather to quintuplets — Mr. Hill will see the project through until the county hires a permanent director. Mr. Hill says he will be applying.

A graduate of Heidelberg University in Ohio who received his master’s degree at the Sonoma State University in California, Mr. Hill has focused heavily on treating youngsters with substance abuse and psychological problems. Bringing a clinical mindset to Shuman could help isolate problems before they grow bigger, he hopes.

“The kids will act out, and you don’t know why,” he said. “If you don’t look at these things, you’ll miss them.”

But the future of the juvenile detention center itself is still in question. Shuman was built to house 130 people — now it often holds 50 or fewer. Mr. Hill already has some experience with shrinking resident populations: His last post in New Castle shut down in February after years of declining referrals.

County council member Bill Robinson, D-Hill District, has his own solution: Tear down Shuman and build it again. He believes the problems plaguing the facility have more to do with outdated infrastructure than faulty leadership.

He’ll be asking his colleagues in January to investigate the feasibility of building a new building.

“What happens when you bring a new director in — and the roof falls in?” he said. “We built a brand-new airport. We built two new stadiums … if we used the capital budget to help with the stadiums, why can’t we with the Shuman Center?”

 

 

 

 

Shuman Juvenile Detention Center interim director William S. Stickman III has stepped down from his post to spend more time with his family, Allegheny County officials said Friday.

In an email sent to county council members Friday morning, county manager William McKain said Mr. Stickman would be replaced by Earl F. Hill, the former Western Region Director for the PA Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services.

The county is still looking for a permanent director for Shuman, which recently regained full accreditation from the Department of Public Welfare after a year of controversy. Mr. Stickman replaced former director William T. “Jack” Simmons, who was fired after state regulators knocked down the center to a provisional license amid violations.

“William Stickman has made a commitment to spend more time with his family at this time in his life and we are grateful for his service as interim director which included the Department of Public Welfare restoring Shuman’s full license,” Mr. McKain wrote in the email.

Mr. Stickman recently became a grandfather to quintuplets. Mr. Hill will step in on Dec. 30.


Andrew McGill: amcgill@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1497.

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