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Salem finding ways to spend health grants

SALEM — The city health department keeps receiving grants, so Health Commissioner Alanna Stainbrook said she’s finding ways to spend the money.

She updated city health board members on the status of the grants from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, noting it “seems like I’m spending a lot of money, but we’ll be reimbursed.”

The first grant received totaled $5,009 and she’s just about spent the total. She noted she purchased a new paper shredder and was purchasing supplies to finish out the grant. They’ve already received reimbursement for a large part of the grant already used early on.

Other grants have totaled $41,385, $8,301 and $10,358. Some of the money is going into salaries related to contact tracing duties to keep track of people exposed to COVID-19 and in quarantine, some will help cover costs for people who can communicate with the Hispanic population for contact tracing and some will cover new equipment.

The list of purchases already made and to be made in the near future includes plexiglass barriers for the office and personal protective equipment and supplies, medical grade refrigerators, a new computer and a much-needed new phone system.

Mayor John Berlin, who serves as chairman of the board by virtue of his position, suggested getting iPads for board members for communication. Since March, the board has been holding meetings via Zoom. He wasn’t sure if that was a permitted purchase under the CARES Act, but Stainbrook was going to check.

In other business, the board had the first reading on new food service fees for 2021, which will be an increase from this year’s prices. The board is expecting to amend the numbers before the second reading at the next meeting after the increased salary for Environmental Director Alan Masters is figured into the cost methodology. Masters recently earned his registered sanitarian title, resulting in a bump in salary.

The number of people seeking birth certificates increased, with many coming from Mahoning and Trumbull counties, whose departments had been closed to the public. For the city, that meant increased income. Stainbrook said the Bureau of Motor Vehicles is requiring birth certificates for new licenses, so that may be contributing to the increase, too.

Some flu clinics are being planned, with dates to be announced. The mention of the flu shot clinics prompted a conversation on whether it’s better to wait until later in the fall rather than get a shot now since the worst part of flu season is historically January and February.

In environmental health matters, Stainbrook told the board that a dog had been deemed a dangerous dog by city ordinance and the owner voluntarily had the dog euthanized after an attack that occurred last month on Bentley Road. Apparently the dog entered a home on Bentley and attacked a dog inside, resulting in that dog’s death, and also attacked a person trying to separate the two.

Berlin said it’s important for pet owners to keep their dogs on leashes and keep them under control, noting that the owner is responsible for what the dog does while running loose. If it becomes an issue for a dog owner and police have to continuously be called, a citation can result. Stainbrook said in this case, the dog had also been nipping at people inside the home and no shelters would take the dog.

She also reported an issue with cockroaches on a section of Cleveland Street was being addressed, which resulted from trash, along with two refuse complaints on Oak Street which remain pending.

Guidelines have been provided for two upcoming events, a Treasure Hunt at Centennial Park, and a drive-thru Halloween even at Waterworth Memorial Park. Berlin said the city set trick or treat for 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31.

The next health board meeting will be 2 p.m. Oct. 21.

City hall to remain closed

Berlin said city hall will remain closed for now, commenting “I hesitate to even think about opening again with flu season coming up.”

People can call to make an appointment if necessary to see an officeholder or in particular, the zoning office. Offices can still be reached by phone at 330-332-4241.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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