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December 27, 2012

Coming back home: Former food inspector returns to health department

Wolford returns to position he started in 2009.

LOGANSPORT — A familiar face is returning to Cass County’s health department.

Cory Wolford, 31, was hired this month to be the department’s full-time food inspector after the departure of former inspector McCall Kitchell. It’s a role he’s reprising after roughly a year’s absence from inspection duties at the health department.

Wolford, a Logansport resident, interned at the Cass County Health Department in 2000 after his freshman year at Purdue University. He’d applied for the internship at the urging of one of the health department’s directors.

“One of the old board members, a dentist here in town, convinced me to apply for the internship,” Wolford said.

The 1999 Logansport High School graduate spent a summer at the health department before continuing his studies at Purdue, serving in the National Guard and graduating in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in general health.

After working a short time for a health consulting firm in Indianapolis, Wolford moved back to Logansport with his wife, Shelby, whom he’d recently married.

“The big city wasn’t the place for us,” Wolford said. So in 2009, he returned to the county health department, this time as a paid staff member. He began as a food inspector, then moved into handling general environmental complaints.

He stayed at the department until 2011, when he took a job at the state Bureau of Child Care as an environmental consultant. While he maintained his Cass County residence, the job took him as far as south of Indianapolis.

With a young son at home, Wolford realized that “three hours of driving every day was hours I couldn’t spend playing with him.”

It’s why he returned to the Cass County Health Department starting Dec. 10. He was one of three candidates interviewed, said Lynda Kennedy, administrator for the department.

“He had been here before and done a fantastic job,” Kennedy said. “He was already trained, had a rapport with the staff. He was the best qualified.”

As the county’s food inspector, the bulk of his job will consist of conducting inspections at area restaurants, schools and other establishments that sell food.

However, he’ll also handle some environmental complains, lead inspections and septic inspections, depending on the season and the volume of inspections the department is handling at a given time.

Wolford enjoys meeting staff members at the area restaurants and seeing what’s new in the building or on the menu during each inspection.

“It’s usually different every time you go into it,” said Wolford.

Attention to detail is a key quality for a food inspector, he said, so small, easy-to-miss errors don’t erode an establishment’s commitment to serving healthy food.

“We’re kind of outside,” explained Wolford, to help managers pick up on changes of habit or omitted steps that could otherwise be overlooked by someone in the establishment every day.

“I want to help people, but I don’t want to offend them,” Wolford added. Small business owners in particular, he said, take pride in their food. “They know those reports are going to be seen by the public and they get upset” if any code violations are found.

“I don’t want to be seen as a bully,” said Wolford, so he suggests solutions if he finds any equipment or practices in violation of health laws.

Wolford’s goal was to finish the department’s required inspections for 2012 and start 2013 off on the right foot.

“I’m just excited to be back,” he said.

Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at sarah.einselen@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5151.

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