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Livestock auction owner brings complaints to health department

LISBON — The owner of a local livestock auction took his complaint about food service fee increases to the Columbiana County Health Department.

Barry Pidgeon, the owner of the Damascus Livestock Auction, has approached the Columbiana County Commissioners with his concerns last week, which include the rates for his lunch counter at his business rising from $434 in 2020 to $535 in 2021 and then having the rate increased to $660 when he did not pay it in a timely manner.

Pidgeon continues to believe the rate increase is wrong, especially when the county health department employees received additional money during the pandemic and the health department received Covid-19 grants.

Members of the board of health explained again to Pidgeon that the rate increases and decreases come from a formula the state of Ohio Department of Health gives them each year.

“I feel sorry for anyone in the food service industry,” said Board President Shawn Apple. “We were hoping the state would waive the fees this year, but they did not.”

The local health department is audited each year to make sure they are complying with the rules and rates prescribed for food service fees and they explained they do not see where there is a provision in that law that allows the board to change it.

“It’s totally insensitive,” Pidgeon said. “Even though the people here were well compensated, you raised my fees. I think it’s upside down.”

Board member David Rose said the reason the employees were compensated was due to all the long days and weekends they worked during the pandemic.

He suggested maybe Pidgeon needs to go somewhere higher than the local health department with his concerns about this year’s rate increase.

Some years the rate also has dropped, which may be possible next year when the rates are based in part by the number of hours the health department spent on the 2020 food service fees and inspections.

“It’s not the $100,” said Pidgeon, who admitted several people gave him $100 after hearing about his concerns. “It’s upside down. How can you do this to people? No one here wrote to the state and asked them not to do it, did you?”

In other matters, the health department:

— Voted on board orders to have a property at 10578 Rochester Road, East Rochester; and another property at 11083 state Route 644, Kensington, cleaned up by the owners. The next step if the solid waste and tires are not removed is a court citation.

— The board also voted to advertise for a medical director position and for a public health nursing position.

— The board approved an agreement to allow Mount Union nursing students to observe at the health department for part of their practical rotations.

— The board approved an agreement with Heritage Valley Multispecialty Group for skin cancer screenings.

— Finally the board approved adding Juneteenth to the list of holidays for employees of the health department.

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