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Executive director resigns position

Alianiello has helmed meeting facility since late August 2019

Alianiello

The Blair County Convention Center has lost its executive director at a time when the facility’s business is slow because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The authority that manages the center accepted Rocco Alianiello’s resignation during a meeting Wednesday and indicated that he was resigning for retirement.

“I’m happy to have had Rocco for the transition we’ve had,” authority personnel committee Chairman Jamie VanBuren said.

Alianiello, 63, was hired as executive director in late August 2019 to succeed Jim Boston, who was resigning for another job.

Boston, hired in December 2018, worked with former CEO Barry Kumpf, who was transitioning toward retirement.

In light of Alianiello’s resignation, the authority appointed Tom Schilling, executive chef and director of food and beverage sales, as interim operations manager.

As for Alianiello’s successor, authority Chairman Richard Karcher said Schilling and Facilities Manager Steve Despot will handle operations for now.

“I think we’re going to take a breath,” Karcher said. “Then after the new year, we can sit down and make some plans to go forward.”

The convention center, typically a popular venue for holiday parties, has none scheduled so far, Despot said after the authority meeting concluded.

Under Gov. Tom Wolf’s latest restrictions to ad­­dress increases in coronavirus cases, indoor gatherings are restricted to 10% of the maximum occupancy in an area designed for up to 2,000 people, 5% of the maximum occupancy in an area designed for up to 10,000 people and 500 people in any area designed to accommodate more than 10,000 people.

January and February are typically slow months at the convention center, where business generally picks up in the spring.

During Alianiello’s first six months on the job, he wrapped up the convention center’s 2019 fiscal year with revenue of $2.2 million and a net income of $255,000. Moving into 2020, Alianiello set a goal of booking more events to push revenue toward $2.24 million. That was before Wolf unveiled a pandemic response plan which initially closed the convention center, then later allowed it to resume limited operations.

The authority indicated that Alianiello’s resignation was effective Wednesday. He was not at the meeting and the Mirror tried without success to reach him by telephone.

In addition to accepting his resignation, the authority authorized a $27,000 payment to Alianiello in addition to his salary.

That payment reflects raises that were authorized when the authority hired Ailianiello, solicitor David P. Andrews said. He said that agreement included incremental raises that were to occur during his first year as executive director and upon finishing a year.

In light of ongoing conditions, Alianiello has been foregoing the raises, Andrews said, but the authority agreed that he is due the payments.

The authority also accepted a resignation Wednesday from Barbara Wise, finance director, who has found another job but will work, at $32.25 an hour, as a bookkeeper and payroll specialist. The arrangement will continue until a successor is hired, the authority agreed.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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