Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

December 18, 2013

Magistrate attacks health department

By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Journal-Times

Dec. 18, 2013 — Carter Magistrate Clifford Roe once again lashed out at members of the county health department at Tuesday’s Fiscal Court meeting.

Following up on his threats of a rent increase in retaliation for the closure of the Olive Hill health center, Roe also accused the department of mismanaging its funds.

“I don’t think we should bear the burden of the mismanagement of the health department. If they want more space, then they can pay rent. We can use that money for the roads,” said Roe.

“Bad management is what brought it to this point,” he added.

Judge-Executive Charles Wallace, however, had previously extended an offer of additional space in the county courthouse for no extra charge in order to help the cash-strapped department to continue offering services.

“I don’t have a problem with them using the space for free but it’s ultimately up to the Fiscal Court,” said Wallace.

“You did that before consulting the Fiscal Court,” replied Roe.

Roe also accused the health department of being biased against the western side of county.

He also criticized the makeup of the county board of health, only one member of which is appointed by the Fiscal Court.

The judge-executive serves by virtue of that office and other members, primarily medical professionals, are appointed by the secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, according to KRS 212.020.

“It’s a thing against the west end. It’s been like that for years and years and if they vote to let them have this space, it’ll be another thing against the west end,” said Roe.

“I’ve been a nurse at the health department for 20 years. I can tell you that the people who work in this health department are some of the most unselfish you will ever meet. This isn’t an east versus west thing. We are fighting to survive,” said Rita Sexton.

“It offends me deeply that Mr. Roe makes these kinds of comments about us when has no idea what the health department even does,” she added.

After the discussion, Magistrate Brad Brammell moved to lease the extra space for one year to the health department for $1 and to revisit the issue at the end of that year.

The space in question would be utilized to provide clinical services while the Olive Hill and Grayson centers are closed.

Clarence Fankell, Mary Ellen Greenhill and Brandon Burton voted with Brammell in support of the motion. Roe voted “no”.

Joe Lewis can be reached at jlewis@journal-times.com or by telephone at 286-4201.