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Tallmadge -- Saying "it feels like coming home," Tallmadge High graduate Donald C. Cooper has been hired as the city's director of administration, effective Aug. 22.
Cooper, a Cuyahoga Falls resident, is a former firefighter, assistant fire chief and state fire marshal; he is the son of former Tallmadge Service Director Jack Cooper who died in June.
"There are definitely big shoes to fill there," Don Cooper says, referring to his father. "[He] very much loved the city of Tallmadge and he raised us all the same way. The words that people most often use (when speaking) about my father is 'They loved him.' I think that really speaks to how he not only lived his professional life but also his personal life, so I hope and pray that I picked up some of that."
The city's former director of administration, Dr. Tom Pascarella, retired at the end of June. Pascarella served Tallmadge from 1977 to 1997 in a full-time capacity, then retired. He was rehired in 2007 in a part-time role.
Tallmadge Mayor Dave Kline says Pascarella was able to do the job in a part-time capacity because of his familiarity with the post and his experience in it. Pascarella's retirement makes the timing right to return the position to full time, according to the mayor.
Cooper "comes to us with a wealth of knowledge and we're very excited to have him," Kline told members of City Council Aug. 22.
The director of administration prepares the city's annual budget, negotiates labor contracts for the city and oversees community development and human resources, among other duties.
Pascarella earned $75,128 annually. Cooper's annual salary will be $80,516.80, according to Mollie Gilbride, the city's director of finance.
Cooper graduated from Tallmadge High School in 1977. He served with the Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department for 27 years, 15 of those years as assistant chief. Cooper retired in 2012 as the Ohio State Fire Marshal after serving five years as chief deputy.
He has served as the executive director of medical education and research with Akron General Health Systems and as a labor management consultant with National Rescue Consultants, specializing in interest-based bargaining.
"As the former state fire marshal, I oversaw $100 million in assets and hundreds of employees," Cooper says, adding, "My education is also in business ... I think part of my strength is in the diversity of my background and experience and the many things I've been blessed with experiencing."
Cooper possesses a master's degree and doctorate in business administration from the University of California; he's also completed a postdoctoral Fellowship in Academic Medicine Research at Northeast Ohio Medical University.
Cooper lives in Cuyahoga Falls with his wife, Julie, son, Brian, and daughter, Lillian.
"Something my father taught me is that when you talk, you are conveying what you already know, but when you listen, you can learn something new," Cooper says. "And so what I've been doing a lot of this first week is listening and observing, learning what my role will be in helping my hometown."
Twitter: @ EllinWalsh_RPC