Health board deals with loss of staff

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Barry County Health Department Board of Trustees dealt Thursday with fallout from the resignation of Jamie Cornell, the second of the department's two environmental specialists.

Cornell's last day was Nov. 15. He was asked to stay on until the end of November but declined. Dwayne Cornell resigned effective Oct. 31. The department currently has no other environmental specialists on staff.

Two local septic installers, Danny Holloway and Wayne Wormington, addressed the meeting, concerned that now that the department had no one qualified to inspect septic systems, new construction in the county would be impeded.

Board member Pauline Gage, acting chairman of the board, and Health Department Administrator Kathleen King explained that the board had contracted with Garry Boone, environmental specialist from Lawrence County, to provide interim services.

The septic installers said it was their understanding that Boone would only conduct restaurant inspections. King told them Boone had agreed to review site plans for septic installations.

The county will suspend on-site inspections and instead will require certified installers to submit a signed certification stating that they have "properly designed, installed, modified or repaired the on-site sewage system represented by application . . ."

No septic system in Barry County can be legally installed except by county-certified installers. Boone will be responsible for reviewing the on-site plans that installers are required to submit prior to obtaining a permit for installation.

Holloway and Wormington were also concerned about a statement contained in a fact sheet regarding application procedures stating that it could take up to five days for an application to be approved. Both said it had never taken that long in the past. However, the statement in the fact sheet is the same policy statement that was in effect when Dwayne and Jamie Cornell were handling the applications.

Gage and King admitted that because Boone would only be working for Barry County two days per week, there could be longer delays than were previously experienced.

"We're doing the best we can under the circumstances," Gage said.

Holloway said he had turned in his application for a system that day (Nov. 17), paid his $75 application fee and went ahead and installed a system.

"Then you have an unapproved system," Gage said.

"I want people in this county to be assured we're going to do everything as well as we can and as fast as we can," said board member Jeannie Nickell.

Installers were also concerned about how they would obtain their use permits. Under the temporary procedure, installers will need to complete a Part I "Application to Install." After that is approved, they will be allowed to proceed with installation without an on-site inspection but will be required to submit the "certification of system without on-site inspection" form. Once that is received, they may complete the Part II application and will be issued a "permit to use."

"Once we receive the signed certification, we will proceed with the Part II," King said.

"The only thing that will change will be that we will use the certification in place of an on-site inspection," Gage said.

King has already advertised for and has received applications for an environmental specialist. She told the board she had interviews scheduled for the week after Thanksgiving, but the board encouraged King to schedule interviews sooner if at all possible. King said that was the earliest most of the applicants were available for interviews.

Under unfinished business, the board completed its final review of changes to the personnel manual and approved the entire document. Board members also accepted the three-year strategic plan drawn up by King.

"Everybody (all staff) worked very hard on this to make it workable," King said.

The strategic plan includes: implementation of tobacco use reduction programs; programs to reduce the use of soft drinks at schools; expansion of the In My House program, a series designed to help elementary children make healthy choices for life; implementation of community-wide physical activity programs; implementation of the WISEWOMAN program, a wellness program for women; promotion of healthy food choices through partnerships with food establishments; creation of a water quality task force; improvement of wastewater ordinances; expansion of the Monett facility; hire additional staff; and seek Public Health Accreditation.

King also presented the draft 2006 budget. Nickel asked if King had included a breakdown of individual salaries. King said it was not listed that way in the budget and she did not have that information immediately available. All board members agreed they would like to see that information before they approved the budget and asked that King mail them that information prior to the next meeting.

The budget was tabled until the Dec. 15 meeting.

Under new business, the board reviewed the current mileage reimbursement of 40 cents per mile. Since gasoline prices have fallen slightly since the last board meeting, the board decided to leave the reimbursement at its present level. The board did not set a date for another review but instead will address the issue as needed.

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