East Liverpool stays in family to fill health commissioner’s job

EAST LIVERPOOL – The wife of a city administrator has been chosen as the new health commissioner by the board of health.

After a 45-minute executive session during which two candidates were interviewed, Carol Cowan, St. Clair Avenue, was selected unanimously by the board. She is the wife of city planning Director William Cowan.

Currently a dental hygienist in Bridgewater, Pa., Cowan earner a bachelor of science degree from Ohio State and holds a certificate in dental hygiene. From 1986 until 2012, she also served as dental assisting program director and instructor at the Ohio Valley College of Technology and is a registered dental hygienist in both Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The other candidate holds an associate’s degree of applied sciences in nursing from Kent State and, according to her resume, last worked as a registered nurse at Nentwick Care Center in East Liverpool from 2011 to June 2013.

According to board member Robert Duffy, it was Cowan’s bachelor’s degree that swayed the board in her favor.

Although the board had previously said the new health commissioner would also have to be either a registered sanitarian or sanitarian in training (SIT), neither candidate met those criteria.

To be eligible for SIT registration requires at least a bachelor’s degree that includes 45 quarter hours or 30 semester hours of biology, chemistry, geology, physics, math or statistics. The courses must be applicable to the practice of environmental health.

State law requires a sanitarian in training to apply for registration as a sanitarian within three years of SIT registration unless the Ohio State Board of Sanitation Registration extends the period.

Mayor Jim Swoger, who heads the health board, said Cowan will be given the opportunity to earn her SIT registration.

Swoger said current sanitarian Jim Ferguson, health nurse Stephanie Summers and retired health commissioner Gary Ryan have all offered to work closely with the new commissioner. Ryan has been filling in on an as-needed basis since the resignation of health Commissioner Jelayne Dray.

Board members and Swoger were not certain the salary Cowan will earn in the full-time position, although they thought it to be $21 per hour.

Her starting date was also not known, with Swoger saying he planned to discuss that with Cowan, who is still employed at her other position.

Swoger said he also checked prior to last night’s meeting with the Civil Service Commission to determine if the health commissioner’s position is governed under civil service and was assured it is not.