On July 8, Diane Fry will say goodbye to her career with Austintown Township to take on the role of Mahoning County dog warden. She said it is a dream come true.
"I'm real excited," she said. "I always said that this job is the only one I would leave Austintown Township (administrative office) for."
Fry has lived in Austintown all her life and comes from a farm family. Her great grandparents had a farm in the township on Ohio 46. That background helped her develop a fondness for animals that led her to work for veterinarians after she graduated from Fitch in 1978.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Diane Fry will step into her new career on July 8 as Mahoning County’s dog warden.
In 1982, she went to work for a veterinarian in Girard. She stayed there for one year, then moved over to the Niles Veterinarian Clinic until 1992. That year, she was hired by the Austintown Police Department as secretary.
In 1994, her husband, Jeff, was laid off and Fry thought she had better pick up some extra work to help the family budget. She took on a second job at the emergency veterinarian clinic in Girard, working there at night and at the township during the day.
"I always kept my feet in the door," she said. "Once you get into a field you love, you never really step away from it."
Her husband's unemployment was short lived and he went back to work, but Fry hung onto the second job. At the township, she moved from the police department into the administration building where she served as road department secretary, then moved up to administration in 1998. She has been the administration secretary since.
"Coming to us without an accounting background, she was a natural and figured things out on her own," said Township Administrator Mike Dockry.
Twice in the past, Fry submitted her application for the position of county dog warden. It seems the third time was the charm.
"I heard I was up against some tough competition," she said. "I feel very honored to have been chosen."
When she begins her new career on Monday, she said there are several things she will be looking at. One is to ensure her department will be accountable and transparent.
"I think that is what the commissioners want," she said.
She is hoping to freshen up the facility on Industrial Road so it will become easier to keep clean. She said there are already a lot of people who come in to help clean and walk the dogs that are housed there. She said the department has seen changes over the past decade or so. It used to be a place where dogs were euthanized regularly, but now rescue groups have been working with the pound to ensure every dog has a chance at adoption.
The facility is her big concern. She said the present building on Industrial Road was not designed for what it is doing today. It either needs upgraded or a new facility provided. While that decision is left up to county commissioners, she said she would try to make the facility more presentable.
"In the vet field, first appearances are important," she said. "People with sick animals need to see a clean, comfortable environment for the care of their sick animal."
She said to meet the goals requires the staff input and a well-thought-out plan.
"The key is to not change anything until you know what and who it touches," she said.
As for the township, Dockry said Fry has been a key to the daily operations.
"I think everyone here will miss her and the confidence and great personality she possessed," Dockry said.
Stepping into her position at Township Hall will be John Mashiska. Dockry said Mashiska has put in 33 years with the Ohio State Auditor's Office and he is very familiar with the accounting software the township uses. He has been an Austintown resident all of his life.