Health Director ‘revolving door’ continues in Pamlico County

Scott D. Lenhart

BAYBORO – The situation might be comical, were it not so serious.

Give Scott Lenhart credit. On the job since November 2017, the veteran public health administrator has lasted longer than a dozen or so of his predecessors over the past 14 years. However, like others before him, Lenhart threw in the towel Monday night. The County Commissioners unanimously accepted his letter of resignation, effective June 25.

Shortly after assuming reins of the department, Lenhart – known as a by-the-book administrator – landed on the wrong side of elected officials. In an extensive written evaluation, Lenhart publicly announced a D-minus report card for the department he had been hired to revive. 

Things got worse.

The Board of Health – local volunteers from all walks of life – were generally supportive of major improvements that Lenhart envisioned.

Slowly, though, the County Commission stepped in to usurp that group’s authority, assuming full and complete oversight of the health department approximately two years ago.  

Along the way, there were numerous flare-ups. One stands out among all the rest. 

A state-mandated directive — implemented locally by Lenhart –  had the health department mailing letters to a subdivision full of affluent property owners. The letters threatened to revoke previously issued septic permit approvals. Legal wrangling ensued. The case was recently settled, with six figure damages being paid by both the State of North Carolina and Pamlico County. 

In the fine print of the settlement, State and County are absolved of all future liability. Lenhart, on the other hand  – a county employee who acted in an official capacity –  is left hung out to dry. Perhaps the unkindest cut of all. 

Insiders familiar with the comings and goings of the Health Department have been left scratching their heads. 

“There is one common denominator that stands out through all of this,” said one. “The common denominator is the County Commission. If you think about it, there may have not been too many problems with all of these health directors who have come and gone.”