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West Carthage Housing Authority preparing for the passing of the torch

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WEST CARTHAGE — After 30 years of service to the West Carthage Housing Authority, its director is retiring. Effective Jan. 31, Nancy A. Fargo will retire and Brian J. Wohnsiedler will officially take the reins, overseeing William J. Dalton Estates, West Side Terrace and Grandview Courts.

A Carthage native, Mr. Wohnsiedler was executive director of the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District for 12 years.

He graduated from Carthage Central High School in 1990, from State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 1993 and from Syracuse University in 1995. He is a member of the Carthage Federal Savings and Loan board of directors.

Dean P. Johnson, housing authority board president, said Mr. Wohnsiedler was chosen from among 30 applicants — five of whom were interviewed — after the board advertised in the Watertown and Syracuse areas.

Mr. Wohnsiedler “seemed very caring, very knowledgeable. He’s well spoken and listens,” Mr. Johnson said. “We thought he would be the best fit.”

Though Mr. Wohnsiedler left his previous post under less than ideal circumstances, Mr. Johnson said the hiring committee looked into it and found no problem.

In May, the state froze grant funds to the Soil and Water Conservation District following the revelation Mr. Wohnsiedler had been mingling grant funds and borrowing against future revenue sources. Mr. Wohnsiedler maintained he did nothing wrong and “using available resources has always been a practice” at the district.

“There were no significant findings and I left by my own choice,” Mr. Wohnsiedler said.

Praising Mrs. Fargo’s work, he said he is “moving forward with a positive attitude” into his new role.

“I know the history and how important this facility is to the community,” he said, adding he does not see much need for change. He began learning his new duties Nov. 1.

He and his wife, Krista J., an occupational therapist at Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, have a small farm with a sugar bush near Lake Bonaparte.

Their children, Kaylen J. Sullivan, 17; Keegan G. Wohnsiedler, 11, and Ryenne E. Wohnsiedler, 8, are all students at Harrisville Central School.

Mrs. Fargo, meanwhile, plans to spend more time with her husband, Richard L. “Rick,” who retired as supervisor of logistics on Fort Drum in 2012, and their daughter, Heather D. Fargo of Watertown.

Mrs. Fargo became housing authority executive director following the retirement of Jerry W. LaRock. She had worked at the authority since 1984, starting as a part-time account clerk typist, and became the public housing manager in 1995. Her professional accreditations include the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, Northern New York Association of Housing Officials, the New York State Public Housing Authority Directors Association and the New York State Association of Housing Officials.

She was selected as the state and national Manager of the Year by Rural Development in 2010.

“I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work at the West Carthage Housing Authority for 30 years,” Mrs. Fargo said.

During her tenure as director, Mrs. Fargo sees the installation of security cameras as one of the greatest accomplishments.

Sarah J. Millard will continue as housing manager.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Nancy for the past eight years. She continues to strive to create a place tenants can call home,” Mrs. Millard said. “I am looking forward to working with Brian in the next chapter of West Carthage Housing Authority.”

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