STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County General Health District’s Board of Health remembered the late Dr. Patrick Macedonia, former board president, among other business at its regular meeting on Tuesday.
This was the first meeting of the health board since Macedonia died Aug. 16 at the age of 77. Interim board president Anthony Mougianis remembered Macedonia as a leader.
“In the past two years that I’ve had the honor of serving on this board,” Mougianis said, “(Macedonia) was like a mentor to all of us. He always had a wise word, and I will greatly miss him, but we learned greatly from him.
“We will move on with great hope and continue to do the best we can for the people of this county and provide the best health care possible.”
Dr. Janie Culp, medical director, said of Macedonia, “He was a wonderful, wonderful man. I’ve known him a long, long time. … He lived life to the fullest, and he’ll be greatly missed.”
Health commissioner Andrew Henry said the Jefferson County District Advisory Council will meet on Sept. 28 to appoint a new member to fill Macedonia’s board seat. The appointee, Henry said, must be a physician, and applications will open next week.
Henry said during his report that the health department is being faced with “the most challenging stretch of odors during my time as health commissioner,” with a rise in complaints coming to the department regarding the 288-acre Apex Landfill in Amsterdam.
“We have been and will continue to work with the EPA to ensure that (Interstate Waste Services) fixes these issues,” Henry said.
Henry also addressed comments from the public that he said alleged the board was “being too supportive or cheerleading” IWS during the board’s meeting last month. Henry said he believes those comments by the board were taken out of context, but the board will continue to hold IWS “to the highest standards possible.”
Marc Maragos, director of environmental health, said it has been a “very challenging month” regarding odor complaints, with 27 complaints called in to the odor complaint hotline during June. July’s number was 55 and August’s number is 56, with nearly two weeks left in the month.
Maragos said the offsite odors were addressed during a call with IWS last week and during an Aug. 8 virtual meeting with representatives from IWS, the southeast district of the Ohio EPA and the health department. Additional meetings with the EPA and IWS are “imminent and ongoing,” Maragos said.
“The Odor Management Plan (issued by IWS) states that the landfill, in part, shall strictly prevent and control offsite odors at the facility,” Maragos said. “The offsite odors are Interstate Waste Service’s issue to resolve. They need to find the cause of the offsite odors, come up with a solution to control the offsite odors and immediately implement a plan to get these offsite odors under control in accordance with the OMP.
“It is not fair that the residents who reside near the landfill have to experience these offsite odors.”
Board member Clark Crago said the “upsetting” part of the odor issues is how representatives from IWS “come, give their plan and then, after that, it seems to get worse. … It’s discouraging.”
Maragos said, “We’re at the point where there’s no more excuses. We need to see action.”
In other business, the board approved five travel requests for conferences, with costs for each — including lodging and registration — totaling between $110 and $429.54. Among conferences being attended are the Ohio Environmental Health Association Seminar in Athens from Sept. 20-21, the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners Fall Conference in Columbus from Sept. 13-15 and the Nutrition and Breastfeeding Advisory Council meeting in Columbus on Sept. 8.
The board approved three contract renewals, the first of which was a memorandum of understanding with the Jefferson County Department of Job and Family Services. Henry said the MOU allows the health department’s nursing staff to “provide on-call coverage at (McCullough Children’s Home),” and the rate that the health department charges goes only to repay the nurses for their services.
Also renewed were contracts with Steubenville and Toronto, which Henry said are permitted to make contracts with a county agency, such as the health department, for health services.
Kelly Wilson, director of finance and administration, said in her financial report that, at September’s meeting, she will provide a revised budget for the health department that factors in a newly received grant from the Ohio Department of Health for $149,398. The COVID-19 Enhanced Operations grant, Wilson said, provides funds specifically for the mitigation of COVID-19 case numbers.
Two purchase orders were approved, the first being a reimbursement through the Confinement Facilities 2023 grant of $7,136.76 to the Jefferson County Sherrif’s Department. Henry said the sheriff’s office spent that amount on infectious disease COVID-19 mitigation strategies in its confinement facility and submitted purchase receipts to the health department, which will submit those receipts to the Ohio Department of Health to provide reimbursement through the grant program.
The second was for naloxone purchases through the Ohio Pharmacy Services, totaling $7,320. Henry said the money was provided to the health department through the Ohio HEALing Communities Study.
The health board’s next meeting will be on Sept. 26 at 8:15 a.m. in the second-floor community room of the Jefferson County Towers Building. Henry said that the meeting will be a week later than the board’s usual meeting date because of conferences that pose a scheduling conflict.