Former board member Don Spath remembered
Logan County District Board of Health members accepted the retirement resignation of a longtime Logan County Health District department leader at their Wednesday afternoon meeting, Jan. 11, and also offered a moment of silence to remember a former board member who passed away last month.
Environmental Health Director Tim Smith will be retiring from his position, effective April 28, after 35 years of service to the agency.
He said he hired in at the health department as a sanitarian, and was promoted to his current position in late 2017 following the retirement of former Environmental Health Director Craig Kauffman.
“I’ve had the goal of wanting to save heart-ache for people we are working with out in the field and to communicate our expectations with them,” he said after the board meeting Wednesday. “It’s been a wonderful place to work and among wonderful people. It’s a rewarding position, working to better the environment in Logan County.”
To begin the meeting, the board’s moment of silence honored the late Don Spath, who served on the board for 12 years, retiring in the spring of 2016. He passed away Dec. 30 at the age of 85.
“He was a public servant and will be very much missed by the community. He is fondly remembered by each of us who served with him on the board,” said member Dr. Grant Varian, who was elected the new board of health president during the meeting.
Dr. Varian replaces longtime board president Bob Harrison, who will be retiring from the board this spring. The Logan County District Advisory Council will select the candidate to fill Harrison’s position at their annual meeting, slated for 7 p.m. March 23, at the Logan County Fairgrounds Grange Building.
Also in 2023 organizational matters, the board elected Chris Watkins as vice president.
During the community health update, Director of Community Outreach Megan Bailey reported on the Integrated Harm Reduction grants she will be applying for during the next month to continue the naloxone program and also to offer new harm reduction opportunities.
She will be applying for both the year one grant, which would begin in April and continue through the end of September; and the year two grant, which would continue the programming through September 2024. For those two grant years, the health district could potentially receive funding of up to $169,000.
In 2022, the Narcan program at the health district trained 869 individuals and distributed 1,125 kits. There were also18 known reversals for individuals experiencing an opiod overdose emergency.
In the expanded opportunities with the new grant years, Bailey said the health district could receive $40,000 to implement a non-naloxone harm reduction service.
During 2019, the health board passed a measure approving the start of a Bloodborne Pathogen Prevention Program in the county.
One of the main parts of the program was a safe syringe exchange initiative to combat the rising number of cases of hepatitis C in the area and the associated costs to treat the disease. The program involved multiple community partners at that time, but has not yet been able to get off the ground.
Bailey and Dr. Varian each expressed excitement about the possibility of revisiting this program once again with the available grant funding.
“This type of program provides very valuable and regular interactions with people in addiction, and gives us the opportunity to have conversations with them once they’re ready to receive help and move their lives toward a new direction,” the board president said.
Dr. Varian said while some residents might question whether this program enables someone in addiction, he related that “until they’re ready to stop using, they’re going to find a way.” He emphasized the importance of preventing hepatitis C through the safe syringe initiative, with the county seeing, on average, between 33 and 34 new cases of this disease each year.
In other action, the board:
· approved the hire of Michelle Gatchel, public health emergency preparedness coordinator/public information officer, effective Jan. 23;
· approved the 2023 appropriations, which reflected the 2023 budget presented in November;
· approved amendments to Regulation 26, and suspended the three-reading rule, for changes that relate to the renewal dates for the Sewage Operation & Maintenance Program permits;
· issued separate nuisance violations to: Luke and Makaela Smith, 5582 E State Route 274, Rushsylvania, and Leon Billenstein, 107 W. State Route 273, Belle Center, to remove solid wastes from their properties to a licensed disposal facility within seven days;
· approved well variance requests from neighbors William Bowshier, 7897 Park Drive, Russells Point; and Rick Russ, 7873 Park Drive, Russells Point;
· extended an order for Gustavo Ramirez Enterprises, license holder for La Palma, 2201 S. Main St., Bellefontaine, to provide the board with a written action plan with a detailed timeline to correct ongoing violations within 14 days, or to appear before the board at the next regular meeting, slated for 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8.