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Healthy situation?

March 21, 2012
Morning Journal News


The Columbiana County Health Board (CCHD) and Advisory Council meet once a year. This meeting is made up of Health Board members and one trustee from each township.

I worked at CCHD as the plumbing inspector for 10 years and I'm a Center Township trustee. While working at CCHD, I was told it would be a conflict of interest to be the Center Township representative at advisory council meetings. After retiring, I looked forward to bringing several health department issues before the council. The health board or health commissioner were already award of these issues. When I asked to present these issues I was told there wasn't time and this meeting wasn't for this purpose.

The health department is funded with permit and license fees, grants and taxes. There are several problems in the CCHD that need to be corrected. The employees' wages are considerably less than their counterparts in other health departments in comparable counties. I think the employees realize the economy is down right now but as it improves, these wages should be brought in line with other health departments.

The CCHD hired a new health commissioner three years ago. When Mr. Vins was hired, the economy was down and he explained that he might have to cut hours if things didn't improve. Vins was hired at $79,000 a year and awarded a $5,000 a year raise his first year. Vins asked for volunteers to go on 32-hour weeks. Myself and a registered nurse volunteered to help. While this was happening, the health board and advisory council approved a 3.5 percent raise for the next five years for Mr. Vins.

There's a glaring disparity here.

You lead by example and this is not a good example. Maybe if department heads across country, county, state and federal levels would give up one day's "wages" as they ask their employees, it would show they are willing to help. I have noticed that everything works without the department heads when they're missing for a day.

Mr. Vins appointed a safety committee when he came to CCHD and I was a member of the committee. I reported a dangerous situation in front of the CCHD. If going south on Route 45 to turn left into the CCHD, there is a blind spot. This can be alleviated by moving the drive 50 feet to the top of the hill. I acquired paperwork from the state and a bid from R&R Paving, which Mr. Vins has had for a year.

The last issue is the hiring of the new plumbing inspector, who is quite capable, but his hiring was not fair or professional. During my tenure, if I was sick or on vacation, a plumber from the county, Auggie Cerrone, replaced me. Auggie is a certified plumbing inspector and was led to believe that he would replace me. Instead, Vins brought in a friend and gave him the job. I think we should hire from within the county and buy within the county whenever possible.

Joe Csonka




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