2012-07-26 / Local News

Heatlh Board plans to give Murray permanent job


JENIFER MURRAY of Empire is scheduled to be appointed health officer at today’s meeting of the Benzie-Leelanau District Board of Health. JENIFER MURRAY of Empire is scheduled to be appointed health officer at today’s meeting of the Benzie-Leelanau District Board of Health. The “interim” is expected to be removed today from Jenifer Murray’s position as interim health officer for the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department.

Appointment of Murray as permanent health officer is on the agenda for today’s Board of Health meeting in Benzonia. She was appointed to the post on an interim basis last month after long-time director Bill Crawford was demoted to a sanitarian position amid allegations he sexually harassed staff members at the Benzie office.

Mary Tonneberger, an at-large appointee on the board, said the department has no policy in place as to making appointments to fill employment vacancies.

“There’s nothing that says we have to look within or seek applicants from outside the district,” Tonneberger said. “We simply have to appoint ... Jenifer is well qualified for the position.”

Murray, a resident of Empire Township, earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Hope College and a master’s degree in public health policy and administration from the University of Michigan.

Her past work experience includes two years as the director of personal health services for the Genesee County Health Department, where she managed 80 full time administrative, professional and clerical employees; public health manager for the same department and as a nursing instructor at Hurley Medical Center School of Nursing in Flint.

Murray has worked as the director of personal health services for the Benzie- Leelanau District Health Department since November 1996.

Crawford was removed from the health officer’s post on June 26 and reassigned as a county sanitarian, effectively cutting his salary in half.

Crawford was accused of having “excessive personal contact” over a period of 1 ½ years with a specific female employee that went “far beyond” what was needed to perform his job.

The health board found that although Crawford may not have intended for his behavior to create a hostile work environment, he failed to recognize how female employees could perceive his actions as “unsatisfactory” from an executive leader.

The demotion will cut Crawford’s compensation by nearly half. As health officer, his salary was $78,412. As a sanitarian, he will be paid $39,702 per year.

As the Board of Health prepares for the upcoming budget year which begins Oct. 1, they will have to consider whether finances can support having five sanitarians — three in Benzie County and two in Leelanau.

“Right now our finances look stable, but we’ll have to consider this in the upcoming budget process,” Tonneberger said.

Layoffs would not be based on seniority as the sanitarians are not unionized, she said.

Crawford worked for the Tri-County Health Department from June 1976 through Oct. 1, 1996, when the Benzie- Leelanau District Health Department was formed. He was appointed health officer on Jan. 1, 1999.

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