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The Board of Health needs help

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Chairman Heffernan makes another public appeal for potential candidates to apply for a seat that’s been vacant a year

  At the end of the February 7 Board of Health meeting, Chairman William Heffernan once again made a passionate public plea for help. He implored civic-minded Saugonians to apply for a position on his “shorthanded,” but very important, town government body. The five-member board has one vacancy, and veteran member Joia Cicolini has been unable to make recent meetings for health reasons.

  “If anyone out there is interested, please reach out to the Town Manager’s Office,” Heffernan said. “It’s getting more and more difficult, especially with Ms. Cicolini being unable to attend. We need at least three of us to have a quorum.”

  With only three members available, there’s always a possibility that an unexpected life development – work or family-related – could leave the board further shorthanded, according to Heffernan. Anyone interested in serving on the Board of Health should file a letter of interest with Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree’s Office and state their qualifications and background.

  “It can be rewarding. It can be frustrating. You might get a few more phone calls than you used to,” Heffernan said.

  “If anyone is interested, please express your interest,” Heffernan said.

  Heffernan, who has served about nine years on the board, said he has found the experience of serving his hometown as a board member personally rewarding. But he’s gone into recent meetings worrying whether he could field enough members to hold a meeting.

  Board of Health Vice-Chair Shawn Ayube resigned from the board after moving out of Saugus early last year. His departure created a vacancy which hasn’t been filled since. With veteran board member Joia Cicolini unable to attend recent meetings for health reasons, the board has been operating for several months with three members. If one of them is unable to attend, meetings will be postponed for lack of a quorum.

  “I’ve never had a chairman on the board publicly say he needs people on the board,” Town Manager Crabtree told selectmen at a recent meeting.

  Several candidates had applied. The problem is the candidates were either biased toward or against WIN Waste Innovations (formerly known as Wheelabrator Technologies, Inc.) – the town’s biggest taxpayers ($3.1 million a year) and owners of the trash-to-energy plant on Route 107. Crabtree told selectmen that he felt conflicted by having to appoint and said he was subjected to undue pressure and felt uncomfortable appointing candidates who were either pro-WIN Waste or anti-WIN Waste.

  Board of Selectmen Chair Anthony Cogliano, Sr. isn’t happy about the time it’s taken to fill Ayube’s vacant seat. “It’s been one year since Shawn left,” Cogliano said.

  “All positions need to be filled…especially when there are quality applicants to fill them. It’s his [Crabtree’s] job to nominate and our job to confirm. I want open-minded, self-thinking, confident people on all of them [the boards],” he said.

  Cogliano said he was so frustrated about the prolonged vacancy of Ayube’s seat that he saw no reason for the Board of Health’s WIN Waste Innovations Subcommittee to meet until the board vacancy is filled. “This should have been done months ago,” Cogliano said.

  Last Friday, after a morning meeting with the Board of Selectmen, Crabtree’s office issued a press release seeking to fill the position. “The ideal candidate will have experience as a medical or health professional and be willing to objectively, and without prejudice, apply applicable laws and regulations to issues that come before the Board of Health,” the press release said.

  “Candidates with a medical degree or physicians preferred. Please submit a letter of interest to: Saugus Town Manager; 298 Central Street, Suite 1; Saugus, MA 01906 or email cmoreschi@saugus-ma.gov. (781) 231-4111,” the press release continued.

  “Under Massachusetts General Laws, state and local regulations and community direction, Boards of Health are held responsible for disease prevention and control, and health and environmental protection and promoting a healthy community. Boards of Health serve as the local arm of both the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. To fulfill their duties, they develop, implement and enforce health policies, oversee inspections to maintain minimum standards for sanitation in housing and food service, and assure that the basic health needs of their community are being met.”

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