Murray gets top health department job
Jenifer Murray of Empire has been appointed the permanent health officer and director of personal health by the Benzie-Leelanau District Board of Health.
The board voted unanimously July 31 to appoint Murray to replace Bill Crawford, who was demoted to a sanitarian position in June amid allegations he sexually harassed staff members at the Benzie office.
Murray was appointed as “interim” health officer on June 26. She told board members that the transition from one administration to the next had made for a “stressful” environment, but staff had come together and stayed strong.
Tom Fountain was appointed environmental health director. He will be splitting his time between administrative duties and field work. Fountain told board members he would like to get staff cross trained in different areas of environmental health. Currently there are no backup employees for certain programs.
Murray told board members last month that the department is collaborating with area health care partners on two grant opportunities. One is a grant through the Michigan Department of Community Health to prevent obesity through the promotion of fresh local fruits and vegetables in the summer programs in area schools as well as promoting more access to area physical activity opportunities.
The second grant opportunity is to promote regionalization as a way to more effectively and efficiently deliver local public health services. The funder for this grant is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
In other business at the meeting, finance director Dody Putney reported that she, Fountain and Murray met with the Benzie County budget committee and county administrator to discuss the 2012-2013 budget.
Putney said the department will not be getting an increase in appropriations as requested.
In past years, Leelanau County commissioners have approved without issue appropriations sought by the department which increase about 3 percent per year. However, Benzie officials have not supported increases which have necessitated increases in environmental health fees in that county.
This current budget year, Leelanau County paid $265,428 toward the department’s $2.1 million spending plan. In 2012-13, Leelanau County will be asked for $272,998.