Health department secures grant

WELLSBURG – One reason the Brooke County Commission cited for moving its regular meetings to 10:30 a.m. each Tuesday was to hear more regularly from county department heads.

Tuesday’s meeting was attended by several, including Karen McClain, administrator of the county’s health department, who reported she has secured a $5,100 grant to seek public input into how to address the growing drug problem in the county.

McClain said drug abuse was cited as a key health concern by many of about 70 representatives of public agencies and departments attending two forums held in June to determine top health concerns.

She said the grant, which is through by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state Bureau for Public Health, will allow the department to conduct a mail and online survey this summer to determine ways the health department and others may address the problem.

Participants will be able to respond to the survey anonymously, McClain said.

She noted at one of the forums, an official said one way to address drug abuse is to make free or low-cost long-term treatment more readily available. The official lamented that treatment is most accessible through the courts for those who have committed crimes.

Mike Bolen, a sanitarian with the health department, noted it has used its website at in various ways, including online courses for food handler’s permits.

McClain said because of its convenience for workers at food-based businesses and their employers, many more now obtain their food handler’s permits online than through classes held at the health department.

Bolen said there are plans to use the website, which receives about 180 hits a week, to poll the public on its opinion of the county’s smoking policy for restaurants and other food-based businesses. The current policy calls for at least 75 percent of their seating area to be smoke-free.

McClain said flu season has arrived, and the department again is offering low-cost or free flu vaccinations on a weekly basis. The vaccinations are offered each Wednesday, but individuals are encouraged to make appointments by calling (304) 737-3665.

The health department has received a Champion Award from the state Immunization Program for its efforts over the last three years to ensure all children and teens are immunized.

Last year the department, working with school nurses, held six Saturday clinics at Brooke High School to promote awareness of vaccinations against pertussis and meningitis now required for students entering seventh and 12th grades.

The health department also provides several vaccinations required of children entering school on a weekly basis. Appointments may be made by calling the above number.

In other business:

Bob Fowler, the county’s emergency management director, said the county will need to insure about 60 volunteers involved with the county’s Community Emergency Response Team when they are assisting county officials in responding to various natural disasters.

Fowler said the team includes residents of various ages, including teens and seniors, who could be involved in various tasks, including serving food to flood victims or distributing supplies for cleanup efforts.

He said he will provide an estimate for the cost in the future.

The commission re-organized for the new year, with each commissioner accepting appointments to various boards. Commission President Tim Ennis will represent it on the county emergency services board and planning commission and Brooke County Committee on Aging, which operates the Brooke County Senior Center.

Commissioner Norma Tarr will represent it on the county board of health and economic development authority, Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission and Brooke County West Virginia University Extension Service committee.

Commissioner Jim Andreozzi will serve on the park and recreation commission, which oversees Brooke Hills Park; West Virginia Workforce Investment Board, Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, Northern Panhandle Home Consortium, which oversees the First-Time Homebuyers program; and Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

All three will serve on the museum and library boards and local emergency planning commission.

Beech Bottom Councilman Greg Sheperd submitted a letter of interest in a vacant seat on the county’s economic development authority. The commission agreed to accept letters of interest for two weeks, through the office of County Clerk Sylvia Benzo, after which it will consider Sheperd and any other candidates.

Erica Gump, a Brooke County WVU Extension agent, said the agency is seeking people to lead programs aimed at encouraging teens to stop smoking or use of smokeless tobacco.

Gump said there will be financial compensation for the leaders and groups they represent. For information, call (304) 737-3666.

(Scott can be contacted at