Interim health officials named
On her final day of work, after a 15-minute closed-door discussion to which she wasn’t invited, Diedre Serene learned who her interim replacements at the county’s health department will be.
Physician and coroner Don Hodson, already the county’s medical consultant, will become interim health department director.
The department’s office manager, Jessica Gilbert, will become responsible for administrative duties involving financial oversight and scheduling.
County commissioner Dave Crofoot will serve as an unpaid “primary contact” for policies and procedures and will bring such matters to the county commission, sitting as the county’s board of public health.
Crofoot also will research incentives to be offered to existing personnel to compensate them for taking on additional duties until one or more permanent replacements for Serene can be selected.
After the appointments were approved by commissioners at their meeting Monday, chairman Randy Dallke asked Serene: “Did we do anything wrong?”
She replied: “I think that’s great.”
Serene shocked commissioners by submitting her resignation Aug. 24. Tired of health matters involving COVID-19 being treated as political rather than health issues, she decided to retire from the county and go to work for RSI, a group that responds to public health crises.
Dallke thanked Serene for 33 years of service to the county and gave her a service pin and other gifts.
Serene responded that she wanted to thank commissioners for their support over the years.
In other business Monday, commissioners:
- Approved with little comment rules drafted by the county’s planning and zoning commission governing commercial generation of solar power and operation of feedlots. Both sets of rules will be published as public notices in the Record and are whittled down, according to zoning administrator Sharon Omstead, from recommendations a consultant submitted after examining rules in nearby and similar counties.
- Met new chief judge Benjamin Sexton, who promised to begin personally hearing at least a few cases in Marion County and noted that having retired judges Michael Powers and Steven Hornbaker available could increase use of so-called judicial mediation in criminal cases. The process, similar to plea-bargaining, is useful for simultaneously handling multiple cases against single defendants, Sexton said.
- Heard reports from emergency manager Randy Frank and engineer Brice Goebel about preparations for the brief return to Pilsen this weekend of Father Emil Kapaun’s remains.
- Discussed a proposal by Hillsboro Free Press to have county officials write a series of columns detailing their viewpoints on various county issues. Commissioners seemed interested as long as they could review all columns before publication and the columns were not subject to substantive editing by the publication.