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Allegheny County public works director resigns post

| Thursday, July 24, 2014, 1:41 p.m.

Steven W. Johnson resigned as Allegheny County's director of Public Works, County Council members said on Thursday.

Councilman Bob Macey, chair of the Public Works Committee, said he learned of Johnson's resignation on Wednesday from county Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Macey was not told about the circumstances of Johnson's departure.

“We had a great working relationship, and we managed to get things done,” Macey said, praising Johnson for his management during snowstorms this past winter.

Macey, D-West Mifflin, said he appreciated Johnson's willingness to work with municipalities in the county. After one winter storm, Johnson's snowplow crews spread salt on roads beyond the county's jurisdiction in McKeesport.

The Public Works Department offered to fix a section of Noble Street in West Mifflin for about $300 less than bids from private contractors.

County spokeswoman Amie Downs said Johnson was no longer employed as of Wednesday. The county's Public Works website lists Deputy Director Stephen Schanley as interim director. Downs declined to comment on the reason for Johnson's departure.

He did not return a call.

Johnson, a retired naval officer, joined Public Works in March 2013 and was paid $102,318 a year, according to county records.

Johnson was executive vice president of the National Environmental Balancing Bureau in Gaithersburg, Md., before taking over the county's Public Works Department.

“That is a tough job to take when you don't know the lay of the land. I think he did as well as anyone could expect,” said Councilman Jim Ellenbogen, D-Banksville, who ran Public Works when it was under the county's Special Services Department. “It's an awful lot for one person to do.”

Neither Ellenbogen nor Macey had heard complaints or concerns about Johnson's job performance.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or aaupperlee@tribweb.com. Staff writer Matthew Santoni contributed to this report.

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