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LOCKPORT – Laura J. Kelemen, the executive director of the Child Advocacy Center at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, was appointed Monday as Niagara County’s new mental health director.

The selection, made in a unanimous vote by the county’s Community Services Board, must be ratified within 30 days by a state panel, acting director Michael A. White said.

The County Legislature has no say in the appointment but will set Kelemen’s salary. Rose Siegwarth, chairwoman of the Community Services Board, said she is sure the amount will be less than the $108,967 retired director Antoinette Lech would have earned this year. Lech retired in May after 20 years in the post.

The board is expected to send a suggested salary to the Legislature, but the lawmakers don’t have to accept it. White, the longtime deputy director of the department, said the Legislature will want to meet Kelemen at its Sept. 16 meeting.

“I’m sure she is well-qualified for the very important position she is about to undertake,” said Legislator W. Keith McNall, R-Lockport, chairman of the Legislature’s Community Services Committee.

“I’ve worked with a variety of community agencies in Niagara County,” said Kelemen, a Town of Lockport resident. “I have a high regard for the folks that work in the Department of Mental health and the agencies they work with in Niagara County.”

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com