SALEM - The Salem City Health Department is working with Timberlanes owner Brooke Pidgeon on food service licensing for the banquet facilities at the closed dining landmark, city Health Commissioner Richard Setty said.
Setty talked with health board members about Pidgeon's plans during Wednesday's board meeting at the KSU City Center, noting that he's still in the process of applying for a food license from the health department.
He explained that his stated intention is to get licensed for catering use of the banquet facilities and kitchen equipment, get the cash flow going and then open up the restaurant. He also wants to get the bar open again.
"I think we have all been wondering what's happening over there," Mayor John Berlin said.
Setty said most of the equipment is still in good shape and the licensing will allow a caterer to use the equipment on site. He said the owner's also working on updating the hotel side.
Pidgeon purchased the property on Pershing Street last July. The facility was first opened in 1962 and was a popular dining attraction, but has remained closed since 2009 when it was placed in receivership and was tied up in court cases. The facility housed a hotel, lounge, restaurant and banquet center.
"At some point, it may be complete as it once was," Setty said.
In other business, Setty said they're consulting with an assistant Columbiana County prosecutor and city Law Director Brooke Zellers on definitions of nuisances and the potential for enforcement of city ordinances related to health nuisances. He said the questions stem from a complaint regarding the lack of maintenance of a residential pool. He said they're researching whether the health board has enforcement powers for city ordinances, explaining that some forms of nuisance may need further defined for prosecution.
In the swimming pool case, he said the department received a complaint about a residential pool not being properly maintained. He said the cover was still on and was collecting rain water, becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes and a nuisance for neighbors.
He said the issue isn't spelled out in state nuisance codes and an option would be for the board of health to adopt it's own residential swimming pool regulations to enforce.
Setty also updated board members on the status of rules placed in the state budget bill regarding local health departments. He highlighted three areas which will likely effect the city health department, including a requirement for mandatory accreditation. He said the mandatory accreditation section was changed slightly, with the rules saying boards must apply by 2018 and achieve accreditation by 2020.
The original language also required board members to complete eight hours of continuing education credits, which he said has been decreased to two hours. Any board members with professional licensing which requires them to take continuing education courses can get credit for those courses to fulfill the state requirement for health board members.
A third effect would be a reduction in support of local health departments, but he didn't know yet how that may affect the city since the only state funding comes from the state subsidy, a little over $2,000.
Two reports he said they're working to compile which could be small steps towards accreditation include a local assessment to qualify for state subsidy, which may be done jointly with the East Liverpool and Columbiana County health districts, and a governance manual which will pull everything from the health department into one binder, such as the mission statement, personnel rules and anything dealing with operations.
In other business, customers are now being asked to complete customer service satisfaction surveys in the areas of vital statistics, nursing and environmental health.
The next health board meeting is set for 10 a.m. Aug. 21.