Unanimous vote ushers in new era for Pamlico County Health Department

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From left, Pamlico County Commissioners: Missy Baskervill, Doug Brinson, Candy Bohmert, Paul Delamar, Ed Riggs Jr., Pat Prescott, and Carl Ollison.

BAYBORO – Elected officials will now call the shots at the Pamlico County Health Department.

For decades, an appointed board of volunteers has been charged with setting health department policy, hiring a chief administrator, and allocating budgeted financial resources to ensure compliance with a multitude of state statutes.


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That ended – at least for the foreseeable future – Tuesday night when Commissioners Missy Baskervill, Doug Brinson, Candy Bohmert, Paul Delamar, Ed Riggs Jr., Pat Prescott, and Carl Ollison, all rejected the premise that appointed individuals are the appropriate way to govern a health department that has seen almost a dozen different directors over the past decade.

Though they joined their colleagues in voting for a motion to disband the all-volunteer board of health, Commissioners Bohmert and Riggs hinted at some reluctance in doing so.

An appointed board (like that dismissed by Tuesday night’s vote) suggested Bohmert, “gives us a kind of cover to keep the politics out of it.” She later added that the new duties being assumed by the Pamlico County Board of Commissioners “puts us at a little more risk.”

Riggs hinted strongly that any current problems with current health department operations likely stem from the shortcomings of a former employee, who resigned in August of 2017. “There’s been problems in that department for years,” said Riggs. “I believe this is the right thing to do at this time, but I hope it’s not forever.”

Before the required public hearing – conducted prior to the Commission’s unanimous vote – Delamar and Baskervill each did their best to dispel rumors that they were somehow financially connected to the fate of Windmill Pointe subdivision.

Delamar, a lawyer, said he only owns two properties in Pamlico County – his office in Bayboro and his home in Oriental, and that neither he nor his wife (also an attorney) had ever handled any of the real estate closings there.

Baskervill, a real estate agent, added: “I was the other commissioner named in that rumor, and I have never sold any property out there.”

In late October of 2017, property owners at Windmill Pointe received letters from the Pamlico County Health Department implying that previously issued septic permits might be invalid. Although property owners appealed and later prevailed, that mailing remains a big bone of contention – and primary reason – that governance of the health department has now changed.

Commissioner Carl Ollison remembered the situation vividly:

“We had a meeting scheduled with the health department director on a Friday afternoon at 5 pm,” said Ollison, “but then we found out from Director Scott Lenhart that those letters had already been mailed at 3 pm.”