MOUNT GILEAD — After several months of contentious discussion about relocation of the Health Department to the Wilhelm Building, Morrow County Commissioners and three Board of Health members met and talked about a solution that would allow the Morrow County Health Department to remain at the Community Services Building.

In December the Commissioners signed a contract with the Wilhelm Building owner to relocate the Health Department there. The Board of Health and Health Department staff have expressed concern that the Wilhelm Building will take a great deal of remodeling and re-purposing to be a suitable location for the Health Department.

Board of Health Vice President Jeff Polzin opened the meeting last Wednesday morning saying that the board requests staying at the present location.

After some discussion about the suitability of relocating to the Wilhelm Building, Commissioner Tom Whiston asked if the Board of Health has a proposal or solution to the problem. He and fellow commissioners outlined the financial concerns of the county that lead to their seeking a different location for the Health Department.

Commissioner Burgess Castle mentioned the need for a new roof on the Community Services Building. He said that a temporary roof was put on part of the building this year.

Polzin said that this “back and forth concerning the Health Department’s need to pay something to the county for the building” has been going on since the building was built 20 years ago. He noted that there is much back and forth between health districts and commissioners in other counties in the state.

Polzin said the health department did not pay the $15,000 donation due in 2018 since there was so much “up in the air about where we would be located.”

Board of Health member Shad Gallogly asked why was it that they had not heard about the problems with the building before this year.

Commissioner Warren Davis said that there had not been a maintenance plan for the building before this year. He said this group of commissioners is the first to start a capital improvements fund for the county to help plan for repairs.

“We aren’t asking you to pay for the whole thing (new roof),” Davis said and explained that the commissioners are seeking additional revenue to pay for additional costs by having a client who can pay rent in the Health Department space.

Whiston said the Commissioners are still making payments on quite a large debt on the Community Services Building. This has caused them to take money from other county departments. He added that there is also a $4 million debt on remodeling at the Court House. The courts are paying $30,000 yearly toward that.

Gallogly said the board wants to be a good partner with the commissioners. He said the Board of Health with Health Department staff have worked on a proposal that they will “modify their present area and storage space” for a loss of about 800 to 1,000 square feet.

The health department can move some personnel and filing cabinets to open close to 1,000 feet of space of the 5,200 feet now in use for a potential renter for part of the office. Gallogly said the Board of Health is also willing to pay $15,000 in its agreed “goodwill donation” for 2018 and additional $15,000 for 2019 plus $6,000 in utilities payment per year.

Commissioner Davis asked that the proposal be in writing and given to the commissioners within the week. Davis also asked to have a walk-through the Health Department to see what area they are opening for another tenant to use.

The commissioners toured the health department, nursing area and WIC office, with board of health members immediately following the meeting. They also discussed what entrances would be used for an additional client to maintain privacy and comply with HIPPA regulations.

“We would love to have a proposal and see what could be worked out,” Whiston said.

By Alberta Stojkovic

The Sentinel