Members appointed to Jackson health board
Eleven people were appointed to the Jackson County Board of Health on Tuesday, July 16, following a 4-1 vote from the Board of Commissioners.
“Most of these people who served previously have requested to serve again,” said Chairman Brian McMahan. “Some people chose who were previously on the Board of Health chose not to serve again for various reasons, some because they were retiring and wanted to travel — can’t blame them.”
Commissioners voted to appoint Commissioner Gayle Woody as the representative from local government; Kathy Farmer, Ellerna Forney and Luisa McMahan as the three at-large members; David McGuire as the dentist; Jerry DeWeese as the engineer; Emily Buchanan as the nurse; Brandy Hicks as the optometrist; Kim Cowan as the pharmacist; David Trigg as the physician and Doug Homolka as the veterinarian. State law outlines which disciplines members of county health boards should represent.
Of the 11 members, six served on the health board before commissioners dissolved it in 2018. The board will begin meeting as soon as possible after the appointments’ Aug. 1 effective date. Commissioner Mickey Luker voted against the appointments, while Commissioners Boyce Deitz, Ron Mau, Woody and McMahan voted in favor.
Before 2018, the county’s health and social services boards had long operated as separate entities overseeing the health and social services departments, but a series of party-line votes led to those boards being eliminated in favor of consolidating the health and social services departments and appointing a consolidated board to oversee the new entity.
The move was contentious, with speakers at various public hearings and public comment sessions overwhelmingly opposed. Opposition and confusion about the reasons behind the change lingered among members on the consolidated board, and when they voted to delay hiring a director for the new consolidated department until after the November 2018 elections, commissioners voted in a 3-2 decision on Aug. 20, 2018, to eliminate the board altogether and appoint themselves in its place.
Throughout the process, Republican commissioners had favored consolidation and Democratic members had opposed it. When the Democrats regained a majority in the last election, they quickly moved to restore the boards back to the way they were before consolidation.
The vote to create a new board of social services and board of health took place on March 19, passing 3-2. However, in order for that vote to translate into action members had to be appointed to the new boards.
The health board now has all the appointments it needs to start meeting, but the county is still waiting on the state’s Social Services Commission to appoint two of the social services board’s five members. Nominations are being accepted through Aug. 30, and the commission will meet on Sept. 11. Commissioners will get to appoint another two members, with those four appointees choosing the fifth board member.