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Health department’s request for part-time nurse tabled

Harrison County Public Health Coordinator Tony Combs will have to wait at least another month to see if he’ll get a part-time nurse. Combs made the request Monday night at the Harrison County Board of Commissioners meeting.
Combs said the nurse would work two days a week for the rest of 2008 and at least until the end of next year. He did not request additional money; instead, he plans to use funds already in place from the tobacco cessation settlement to pay for the position.
Commissioner James Goldman said he thought the money from the tobacco settlement would no longer be available after this year.
‘I’ve read that this is the last go-round,’ he said.
‘As far as I know, it’s going to continue,’ Combs responded. ‘At least for a few years.’
Combs said the part-time position is an allowable use for the funds.
Commissioner J.R. Eckart said a portion of the settlement funds has already been used for vaccines, which is not what the money is for.
‘A lot of people worked hard to get that money for the education of young people on the health effects of smoking,’ he said. ‘I haven’t seen too much tobacco education in the county.’
Combs said they give funds to the county schools for smoking education programs and they can help residents who decide they want to stop smoking.
‘Unfortunately, most people don’t want to stop,’ said Combs. ‘There’s more money than we can spend.’
Eckart replied, ‘I’ve never found a case where there is more money than you can spend.’
He went on to say he thinks more money could be spent on tobacco education. ‘It sure would be nice to see a breakdown of how that money is spent,’ said Eckart.
‘I’m going to ask the obvious question,’ said Commissioner Terry Miller. ‘Is your board OK with it?’
Combs said the health board approved the request at its last meeting.
The commissioners did not send the request on to the council for its consideration. Instead, Eckart made the motion to table it until Combs brings in a breakdown of how the money is spent for education of the health effects of smoking. Miller seconded the motion.
‘I’ll have it to you at the next meeting,’ said Combs.
In other business Monday night, the commissioners signed an agreement with RQAW Consulting Engineers and Architects allotting $97,229 for the schematic design phase for the buildings at the old hospital campus. Brett Dodd, of RQAW, said the study will find the best possible use for the buildings and will include a cost estimate.
‘This phase is about digging in and figuring out what’s really going on with the buildings,’ said Dodd.
‘It’s fair to say during this process there’s going to be some tweaking as the commissioners and department heads look at the designs,’ said Goldman. ‘We want to make sure everyone is in agreement with what they’re getting.’
The commissioners sent a request of $215,522, to the council for the Harrison County Alternative School budget for 2008-09. The budget requested is a 3-percent increase over last year, with a 2-percent increase in salaries. The program has been funded by the riverboat in the past and will continue to be if approved by the council.
‘Thank you for funding one of the most successful student programs in the area, if not the state,’ said Doug Dodge, president of the program’s board of directors.
Dodge said 18 of 24 students last year at North Harrison, who previously would have been suspended or expelled, graduated with their class through the alternative program.
‘All but two have since graduated,’ said Dodge.
The alternative school program allows the judge to assign students to the county program instead of sending them to facilities located throughout the state at a cost of $100 to $300 a day.
‘It keeps them off the streets and working as if they are in school,’ Dodge said. ‘They’re still on task to graduate with their class.’