Policy change approved

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Belmont County Board of Health on Monday approved an update to the health department’s weapons policy to match a change in the Ohio Revised Code.

Under the new law, a concealed-carry permit holder can have a firearm in a vehicle on the premises if the firearm is secured in a container and the vehicle is locked. Previously, weapons were not allowed on the health department’s premises.

The Ohio General Assembly amended the state code’s provisions for transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition; the amendment became effective on Sept. 29.

The board accepted the amended policy without comment at its regular monthly meeting. Robert A. Sproul, deputy health commissioner, said the department’s policy group met with board members earlier to discuss the change.

Regarding the formality of the action, Sproul said, “All of our policies must be approved by the board, even if they are required by law.”

The board approved three other changes to its employee policy handbook. In a section on the probationary period for employees, the phrase “calendar days” was changed to “working days.” A correction was made to state that an employee earns 80 hours, rather than 70 hours, of vacation time after the first year on the job.

A change to the drug and alcohol abuse section of the handbook was approved to state that an employee suspected of being under the influence shall be transported immediately to a drug testing facility. Sproul said the change was needed to close a loophole in the previous policy that implied an employee might self-report to a testing site.

In other action, the board heard the second reading of a proposed change to temporary food permits. Under the proposal, a commercial food vendor would pay $84 per event and a nonprofit food vendor would pay $42 per event.

Currently, commercial vendors pay $45 a day and nonprofit vendors pay $22.50 a day for temporary food permits.

Rich Lucas, director of environmental health, said the department will lose a little money from multi-day events, such as Jamboree In The Hills and the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival, by going to a per-event fee schedule. However, he said the new fees better reflect the inspection costs for one-day festivals.

The board approved a request from Lucas to authorize the department’s sanitarians to conduct soil surveys required for septic permits. Sanitarians will be allowed to use a soil probe or require a 6-foot hole to be dug for the survey.

Previously, only soil scientists could perform soil surveys. Lucas said the independent soil scientists seemed to be behind schedule in the summertime. Board member Dwight Jenewein said having the test done by a county sanitarian “should save the homeowner time and money.”

In other matters, Linda Mehl, director of nursing, said the department has dispensed about 300 doses of influenza vaccine this fall. She said the department has about 100 doses left, which she thinks is enough to last through flu season.