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September 9, 2013

Health dept. looks to fill inspector's position

Administrator hopes to have new hire by October.

The Cass County Health Department is adapting to the extra workload while searching to replace an environmental health specialist who left recently, the office administrator said.

John Weidner, an environmental health specialist with the health department, left about a week ago after accepting a position in another state, said Cass County Health Department Office Administrator Bob Vernon.

The job of an environmental health specialist consists of conducting inspections on food establishments and reviewing permits for and inspecting on-site sewage systems, Vernon said. They also investigate environmental concerns regarding residences receiving complaints for trash, rodents, improper plumbing and anything else that would make a a building uninhabitable.

Vernon said Eric Eldridge, who is also an environmental health specialist at the department, has been taking on the extra duties.

Vernon added he helps out when he can as well.

“I have helped when I can but now that I’m taking care of this responsibility, I don’t have time to be out in the field,” Vernon said. “In an emergency, I’ll step up and help out.”

Vernon has posted the job opening on the health department’s website, the websites of colleges in the area and local news sources.

He said a panel of county health board members, county commissioners and Cass County Health Officer Dr. R. John Stukey will assist him in making a decision on who to hire.

“We’re going to set up appointments for interviews, then review them and make our decision from there,” Vernon said.

Vernon said there were three applicants as of Friday afternoon. Sept. 27 is the deadline to apply, after which Vernon said he hopes to have a new employee settling in during the first week of October.

Weidner’s departure marks the third time the health department has had to refill a major position in about the last three months. Weidner himself replaced an employee who left the department in June. Bob Vernon replaced Lynda Kennedy as office administrator in July. In the same month, Dr. R. John Stukey took over the health officer position after Dr. Cherie Bennett left to concentrate on her work at Logansport Memorial Hospital.

When asked for his thoughts on the turnover, Vernon said, “It’s a thankless job.”

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

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