Health board updated on lawsuits

The Washington County Board of Health only had three board members present Friday for an update on two legal actions the board now faces.

Washington County Prosecutor Nicole Coil explained after the board’s hour-and-12-minute executive session that she wanted to consult the new board members with the next steps and background of the city’s lawsuit against the county concerning the sewering of Muskingum Township.

“Since the original case has been reinstated, but there are such new (health) board members, I wanted to update them on where we are procedurally now with a motion to dismiss the case and what could come next,” said Coil.

The sewer lawsuit was initially brought forward by the city in December 2017 against both the Washington County Commissioners and the Washington County Board of Health, alleging both a breach of a 40-year contract on the part of the commissioners and a dereliction of duty to the public’s health on the part of the health board.

A recent pre-trial hearing on the case, which was sent back to the common pleas court from the Fourth District Court of Appeals this year, has brought the health board back into the suit, after its initial removal in December 2018 from the lawsuit by Appointed Judge Linton Lewis.

The second legal action the health board faces is a formal Equal Opportunity complaint.

Coil and the county human resources director who received the formal EEOC complaint, Kathy Thieman, explained to the board that Amy Nahley, accreditation coordinator for the department, had filed a formal complaint against the board.

While the case is under investigation by the federal commission, Coil explained, next steps may include either mediation or a formal hearing concerning Nahley’s filing.

The complaint remains confidential while the investigation is open, according to the federal commission.

Nahley also submitted her resignation from the department Thursday and will conclude her employment next week.

Nahley is the third employee to resign from the department since the ousting of former Health Commissioner Dick Wittberg this summer and followed the resignations of an additional three board of health members over Wittberg’s removal.

Additional fallout from that summer action includes the removal of PAX behavioral coordination to the oversight of the Washington County Behavioral Health Board, the removal of control of AmeriCorps community health worker grant program and the removal of the lice prevention program to instead be administered through the Department of Job and Family Services.

The board has also now exhausted its 18 paid-meeting limit as outlined in Ohio Revised Code 3709.02 after holding six special meetings on July 15, July 18, July 25, Oct. 3, Oct. 25 and on Friday.

The board is next scheduled to hold its regular business meeting on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m and is expected to maintain its final regular business meeting of 2019 on Dec. 10.

“Hopefully, after today, we’re done with special meetings,” said Coil.

“But we’re not here to get paid,” added Board of Health President Bruce Kelbaugh.

The board members receive $80 per meeting attended to compensate for time and travel.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

If you go:

• The Washington County Health Board is scheduled to hold its next regular business meeting on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

• Its final regular business meeting of 2019 is scheduled for Dec. 10 at the same time.

• Both sessions will be held at the Washington County Health Department office, 342 Muskingum Drive.

Source: Washington County Health Department.


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