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New Lewis County, hospital HR director set to start Monday

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LOWVILLE — The new human resources director for Lewis County and its municipal hospital will start here next week after many years of working on Fort Drum.

James A. Swords, who has served as chief of Fort Drum’s military personnel division and director of human resources following his military retirement in July 2009, will take on his new role Monday, according to a Lewis County General Hospital release.

“James brings an extensive knowledge base and experience in all facets of human resources to our facility,” Eric R. Burch, CEO at the county-owned hospital, said in a statement. “I have no doubt that he will make an excellent addition to our team.”

Mr. Swords, who was selected a few weeks ago by both hospital and county officials to serve in the hybrid position, said he is looking forward to “making a positive contribution to the mission of the facility and becoming part of the hospital family,” the release said.

He will replace Timothy J. Ryan Jr., who is retiring after 11 years as director of human resources at the hospital. Mr. Ryan, who also was appointed in 2011 as the county’s personnel director after legislators decided to create their own human resources department, has said Mr. Swords will be a “good addition,” given his extensive background.

The new director holds a master’s degree in human resources from Webster University in St. Louis, Mo., and has more than 30 years of experience in planning, establishing, maintaining and managing personnel programs, the release said.

He has been a college-level instructor for three years, has implemented and supervised various training programs and has managed various programs within multiple divisions including the Army Substance Abuse Program, Army Continuing Education Center and Workforce Development Division.

Mr. Swords enlisted in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1980, completed Army ROTC training in 1982 as a distinguished military graduate and was commissioned in the National Guard as a second lieutenant of infantry.

Upon graduation from Gannon University, Erie, Pa., in 1983, he served in both the U.S. and overseas, including multiple stints in Germany and a deployment to Hungary.

In 2000, he came to Fort Drum as the 10th Aviation Brigade adjutant and brigade executive officer, then was reassigned in 2003 as the 10th Mountain Division’s equal opportunity program manager and took command in July 2007 of the 3rd Battalion, 85th Mountain Infantry Regiment, Fort Drum Warrior Transition Battalion.

Mr. Swords deployed to Afghanistan twice with the 10th Mountain Division and received numerous military awards and decorations, including the Bronze Star.

He lives in Black River with his wife, Margaret. They have two children: Katherine, 21, and Andrew, 18.

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