Public Health unsure of role of environmental specialist within department

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


The Board of Public Health is asking for more accountability when it comes to environmental reports.

During the Board of Health meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 24, there was a lot of confusion as to whether environmental specialist Joni Manske was employed under Public Health or if she was an outside contractor.

Chair of the Board of Health Rose Lauer suggested that Manske start giving environmental reports in similar style to Patti Sallee?s public health reports, which includes expenses, revenues grant updates, what services Public Health provides month to month and the number of people served.

?I think we should know where a person has been,? board member Harold Bezoni said. ?It?s an accountability thing, I think especially in a situation like Public Health, we should spend some time on what we demand (from our employees and private contractors).?

Manske also has been filling in with sanitation in Jefferson County when needed.

After showing up late to the meeting, Manske said that she has a memorandum with Jefferson County that her services will continued to be used until one of the parties doesn?t find it necessary anymore.

Manske said that as a one-woman show, there is no one to cover for her in environmental health in Henry County if she is unable to. This is why she and other county environmental health officials came up with a ?gentleman?s agreement? to cover for each other.

Lauer said that it seems to be in the environmental health area that employees often cover for each other because there aren?t a lot in each county.

?We?re getting the short end of the stick,? vice-chair of the Board of Health Bob Welander said. ?We should know what she?s getting paid an hour for. We have no problem with exchanging help,? he added, saying that as long as each party is getting the work they are paying their employees for.

Welander said this brings up another question: Does environmental health even belong within the Board of Health?

The Board of Health is going to take a look at Manske?s contract and ?definitively decide what (her) position is,? Welander said. The board will take a look at other county?s job descriptions for their environmental specialists.

Her last contract was signed in 2002.

As Henry County?s environmental specialist, Manske was supposed to attend a LEAD class recertification in October, but missed the class for family reasons. Because of this, Public Health is at this moment out of compliance with the LEAD Grant contract because it says Manske is certified and she is not, Sallee said.

Manske is planning on attending the next LEAD class Nov. 20 and 21.

Manske will be teaching a Serve Safe class for food service workers to be certified in food safety. She ordered materials for 100 students in Henry County and already has 15 people signed up for the first half of December. The class is eight hours. Food service workers are required to take the class every three years.

?I hope to offer it whenever people want it,? Manske said.

Next regularly scheduled Board of Health meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 28.