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Quick Takes

September 4, 2011
Weirton Daily Times

VP OF OPERATIONS: Time Warner Cable has named John H. Higgins Jr. area vice president of operations for the company's northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania divisions. He will oversee the company's third-largest division, including nearly 2,500 employees.

Higgins has more than 16 years of experience in telecommunications, previously having served as vice president and general manager of Charter Communications Inc., based at the company headquarters in St. Louis. During his eight years at Charter, he managed many areas of the business, including operations, sales and retention, customer care, government affairs and franchising.

Higgins began his professional life in politics, during a college internship at the New York State Legislature. He later was chief of staff for an assembly member, Steven Sanders. Higgins has held management positions with TCI, AT&T Broadband and Cable Telecommunication Association of New York.

Originally from Oneonta, N.Y., he and his wife have five sons and will live in the Akron area.

AREA DEVELOPER: Chris Cynkar is the new area developer for the Ohio Valley for Liberty Tax Service. Cynkar will be helping to expand current operations, recruiting new franchisees, opening new offices and overseeing all operations.

Opportunities for new franchises exist throughout the area. Cynkar has years of experience in working with entrepreneurs and small business owners to establish and grow their businesses.

Liberty Tax Service, a retail tax preparation company, was founded in 1997 by chief executive officer John T. Hewitt. The service is the only tax franchise on the Forbes Top 20 Franchises to Start list.

To contact Cynkar, contact him at (412) 877-2000 or e-mail him at

OHIO'S FOURTH: reports Ohio is fourth in the nation for the most jobs created during the past 12 months, according to a report from Progress Alliance.

Texas is listed at No. 1 in the latest seasonally adjusted figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, picking up 269,500 jobs between July 2010 and July 2011. Ohio created 74,100 jobs during the same period and has a total listing of 5.1 million jobs now.

JOBSOHIO NEWS: Jefferson County business leaders have been invited to a 1 p.m. event on Sept. 8 in Chillicothe for an introduction to the new JobsOhio economic development system for the state.

The regional rollout event will be held at the PACCAR Medical Education Center in Chillicothe. Mark Kvamme of JobsOhio and Kristi Tanner of the Ohio Department of Development will be the featured speakers, according to a report from Progress Alliance.

Jefferson County will be part of the newly formed Ohio Appalachian Business Council under the JobsOhio system.

AEP TOWBOAT: AEP River Operations dedicated the Michael G. Morris towboat in honor of the American Electric Power chairman and chief executive officer Wednesday in a ceremony on the banks of the Mississippi River at New Orleans.

The ship has a crew of nine. It is 180 feet long, 48 feet wide and is moved by 8,000 horsepower engines. It has the ability to tow 35 loaded barges southbound and 42 empty barges northbound and will operate on the lower Mississippi between St. Louis and Convent, La. The boat will haul coal, steel, grain, ore and other bulk materials.

AEP's River Operations, headquartered at Chesterfield, Mo., includes a fleet of 3,275 barges and 94 towboats, a full-service shipyard and six barge repair and cleaning facilities.

Administrators take posts at Laurels

STEUBENVILLE - Melissa Ross-Merkel has been named administrator of the Laurels of Steubenville. She began working in August at the 100-bed skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility, which provides short-term rehab and long-term care services.

A native of Cadiz, Ross-Merkel began her career in the long-term care industry in 1989 as a nurse's aide during high school. She became marketing director at her uncle's skilled nursing facility while finishing her college degree. In 2001, she became a licensed nursing home administrator and has worked as assistant administrator and administrator for several area facilities.

Ross-Merkel graduated cum laude from Ohio University in Athens with a bachelor's degree in specialized studies.

Jacquie Gorza, a registered nurse, has been named the new director of nursing at the Laurels. She joined the staff there in 2009 and has worked as a unit manager, staff development director and assistant director of nursing. She has more than 24 years of experience in long-term care facilities in the area.

A graduate of Martins Ferry High School, Gorza attended Ohio University Eastern campus, where she studied psychology and sociology. She is a graduate of the Ohio Valley General Hospital School of Nursing.

The Laurels is located on Stanton Boulevard on the hill above the Hollywood City Center. For information, call Margaret Zapor, director of marketing for the Laurels at (740) 264-5042.

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