The Prince George's County Council approved the appointment this week of Mary E. Galbreath as the new director of the Department of Aging.
The appointment, which three months ago created an uproar from a number of county senior citizens over Galbreath's age - 33 - and former residence - New York - created narry a stir among the 20 or so people at the public hearing held before the vote.
Robert Dove, a senior citizen from Greenbelt who has been an active volunteer in the Aging division and is a past vice president of Betterment for United Seniors, endorsed the appointment. "I have found her to be very understanding and a good person to talk to," Dove said. "She has the ear of the senior citizens."
It was the council members who posed question after question to Galbreath, attempting, they said, to get an idea of her goals for the department's reorganization and administration.
Under a recent reorganization by County Executive Winfield M. Kelly, the Division of Aging was separated from the Department of Human Resources and given its own department status. That, coupled with a recent audit, which criticized the department of aging for inadequate record keeping, misdirection of personnel, excessive expenditures in the nutrition program and a lack of direction from a citizens advisory board, make the appointment a critical one.
Galbreath, whowas director of program planning for Suffolk County, N.Y., until September when she came to Prince George's as acting director of the aging department, said her "major administrative challenge" would be to bring "fragmented and uncoordinated projects and their respective staffs . . . together into a functioning whole."
She said she planned "bring-a-buddy days" and an icrease in the home visitation program to expand the number of senior citizens involved in the department's programs.
Council member Frank P. Casula, who abstained on the appointment because, he said, "the incumbent was not considered for the post." He added, however, that he believed Galbreath was "outstandingly qualified." Casula supported the appointment of the prior division director, Vincent Goodsell.
Council member Francis B. Francois said, "If this had come down to public hearing two months ago, this room would have been packed against her," he said. "Anyone who could do that much, instill that much confidence in two months has to be good."