HERMITAGE — Hermitage has revived its Human Relations Commission with a slate of new members who gathered this week in the city building to chart out their mission.
The commissioners unanimously selected five city residents to be on the commission in February.
In 1968, officials in what was then Hickory Township formed the city’s Human Relations Commission to prevent discrimination in housing. Solicitor Brett Stedman said the city expanded the commission’s mission in 1975 and empowered it to act on any discriminatory practices.
The commission had not met for the past few years, and that was preceded by a period of inactivity, Hermitage City Manager Gary Hinkson said.
“But this is an all-new board,” Hinkson said Monday.
The board members are all Hermitage residents, with a variety of backgrounds and experiences:
• Holly Nogay is CEO of the Mercer County Housing Authority.
* Dr. April Torrence is CEO of Zion Education Center, which serves preschool students and provides after-school programs. She teaches business management at Westminster College and helps oversee NIU Flamingo, a fruit juice company started by her daughter Cynthia Torrence.
• Diane O’Rourke is the CEO of MCAR, also known as The Arc of Mercer County, which serves people with special needs.
• Stephanie Lauderbaugh is a former Mercer County assistant district attorney who maintains a private law practice, mostly focusing on criminal defense and family law.
• Lee DeVita has experience with social services in Mahoning County and has also participated in fair-housing committee meetings.
After introducing each other and going over some background information, Hinkson and Stedman provided guidance on how the commission can move forward, including how it can mediate or investigate claims of discrimination.
The commission then set the HRC meetings for 4 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month. Hinkson said he could gather more information to present to the the body’s members and officers could be elected at their next meeting in May.
Duane Piccirilli, president of the city’s board of commissioners, said he looked forward to the committee being an active resource for the city.
“I am so happy the staff recruited such a diverse and knowledgable group of individuals,” Piccirilli said.
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