Fallout begins from recent Board of Health shenanigans

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Melanie Campen

BAYBORO – County officials quietly confirmed this week that a key staffer within the Pamlico County Health Department – the person charged with inspecting septic tanks and granting approvals – may resign effective April 30.

In her post as an Environmental Health Specialist, Melanie Campen has extensive experience and certifications. Should Campen resign, her hard-to-replicate credentials will likely put the Health Department behind the 8-ball when home builders and developers apply for on-site wastewater discharge permits.

In fact, septic installers fear backlogs and waiting lists that might result if the county is forced to farm out septic inspection work to third-parties – frequently certified operatives from other jurisdictions who can only work part-time or on weekends.


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Campen also has clout from her service on the North Carolina State Board of Registered Environmental Health Specialist Examiners. That group acts as a regulatory arm to ensure that issued permits – and all of the paperwork involved – are free from corruption or improper influence. Campen is the governor-appointee representing eastern N.C.

Reached Wednesday afternoon about her rumored resignation, Campen replied with a brief and cryptic text message: “Nothing is definite.”

Many in the community have predicted Health Department staffers might become disgruntled after the County Commissioners, earlier this year, disbanded an all-volunteer board that supervised the Department.

Now, Health Department director Scott Lenhart takes his marching orders from seven elected officials and from County Manager Tim Buck.
All of the county commissioners understand Health Department supervisory duties are supposed to be separate and distinct from their roles as elected representatives.

However, that important line of separation often becomes a bit blurry – especially, when a Pamlico County voter calls Mr. or Ms. County Commissioner with a complaint about a septic tank or health department problem.

Campen – and other Environmental Health Specialists – often find themselves in tight spots. Enforcing sometimes confusing and contradictory regulations while dodging political pressures and micro-managment from above.