District Advisory Council Meeting - Putnam Sentinel
Meeting in special session on Monday, member of the Putnam County District Advisory Council appointed three new members to the Putnam County Board of Health. (Putnam Sentinel/Steven Coburn-Griffis)

PUTNAM COUNTY — On Monday afternoon, three new members of the Putnam County Board of Health were appointed by the Putnam County District Advisory Council. In the wake of last week’s resignation of the bulk of the sitting board — resignations made in protest over the DAC’s decision to retain board member Matthew Herman — the DAC met in special session to make the appointments.

The DAC’s Nominating Committee informed the 21 members present the Department of Health received six applications to the board, then provided the board with three recommendations: Lita Siefker, Pleasant Township, who was appointed to a three-year term; Kyle Stechschulte, Van Buren Township, to a two-year term; and Carrie Knippen, Miller City, to a five-year term.

With names in hand, DAC Chair Robert Heidenescher then asked for comments.

“Do people in this audience know these people?” Glandorf Mayor Gene Warnecke responded. “I mean, we had a little bit of an issue last time and nobody really knew the individuals.”

Each of the nominees received multiple endorsements from individual council members, comments resulting in the unanimous approval of all three, with Stechschulte appointed to a two-year term; Siefker to a three-year; and Knippen to a five-year term.

Conspicuously absent from the list of applicants was the presence of a medical doctor. Ohio Revised Code requires all health departments to have at least one such on their boards and the issue became a topic of discussion.

Sherrie Recker, RN, health department director of nursing, advised council that despite having reached out to most of the physicians in the county, none to date have expressed an interest.

“If you know of any physicians that live in your townships or villages that may practice elsewhere, I’d be open to those names,” Recker told the council. “What we’re really looking for is someone that either lives or works in the county.”

Heidenescher then queried Health Commissioner Kim Rieman as to how quickly the council would have to appoint a doctor to the board.

“I think that we just have to really show that we are reaching out and doing our homework,” Rieman responded. “Of course, we don’t want to drag our feet, but it’s not going to be held against us if we don’t have one right away.”

With appointments made, DAC members then turned their attention to matters of oversight, discussing their own level of responsibility in assuring health board members professionally perform the tasks before them.

“At the last meeting, we did talk about having a trustee and/or a mayor come to these Health Board meetings,” “Do you still want to do that?”

“I think that’s a good idea,” Ottawa Mayor Dean Meyer said, noting the meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. “I don’t know that we need to assign (someone to attend), but I think if we get a chance, I think it’s a good idea to make a meeting or so.”

To facilitate the presence of a public official, the council recommended Rieman contact council members via email in advance of each monthly meeting.

“I think we need somebody from the Mayors Association and from the Township Trustees, at least one of each,” Monterey Township Trustee Steve Hilvers said before the meeting came to a close. “I mean, that’s part of our jobs. Somebody’s got to show up.”