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Commissioner's Report: Changes in school vaccination program

Fri, Dec 20th, 2002
Posted in Features

Changes in how the state administers school vaccinations will take responsibility for the program away from Public Health, Sharon Serfling told the County Board at their Monday meeting.

Serfling, Fillmore County Public Health Director, described a new state mandate that will no longer provide the money needed to aid counties in conducting mass in-school vaccinations for 7th graders. This includes tetanus, hepatitis B and MMR (measles, mumps & rubella).

In an effort to cut spending, a "mysterious" study conducted by the state claims it would be more efficient to have parents take their children to their family doctor to have the shots administered.

Serfling found this to be ludicrous, as did board members. Commissioner Randy Dahl referred to the mandate as the states way of dropping the ball; a short term cost savings that would catch up to the system in the end. Serfling felt it would actually cost the schools more money as someone would have to keep track of the students vaccination histories and go after those who werent compliant.

Commissioner Dahl noted parents wouldnt be exactly thrilled over paying an office call for the relatively cheap vaccinations. Serfling said families that have little or no health care coverage could still receive the vaccination through the county.


With the federal government continually upgrading its security systems against terrorism since September 11, the domino effect demands that local principalities also be ready to do their share. Bioterrorism has become a major focus. The Center for Disease Control, located in Alanta, Georgia, has asked the states to develop a plan for vaccinating a limited number of people against smallpox. President Bush is pushing this program since the vaccine is already available.

According to Serfling, the last case of smallpox seen in the U.S. was in 1949. Smallpox is an acute, highly contagious virus disease that is characterized by a prolonged fever, vomiting, and blisters that often leave scars. The last vaccinations for the disease ceased in 1972.

Counties have been required to identify at least two sites where mass vaccinations can be given if needed. The Fillmore Central Elementary-Middle School gyms and the Harmony Community Center (also has a gym) have been chosen said Serfling. The board suggested that other sites might also be added to the list in the future. Public Health will develop a nursing staff list of potential individuals in the county that would work at these sites. The first stages of Bush's program call for vaccinating key role players who would be responding to a smallpox outbreak.

Social Services

Social Services Director Tom Boyd shed a glimmer of light on the departments budget, even as he cited problems the states budget shortfall will create. Boyd told the board that minors who have "aged out of the system" would no longer be financially cared for by the county. Boyd said in July the county had 29 minors that had been placed in out of county facilities such as a correctional site that can cost between $6,000-$7,000 a month due to 24 hour supervision. Parents help pay the tab, based on a sliding fee scale, but the majority of the cost is absorbed by the county. The number of minors in these facilities is at 14, and Boyd anticipates that this number will continue to fall. Chairman Duane Bakke noted Social Services is a big part of the countys budget. State cuts will have a direct blow on the countys wallet.

Other business

David Kane and Jason Woodhouse, Kane & Johnson Architects, and Dean Sand of CAM, Inc. gave a brief update on the courthouse project. Remodeling in the county office building by the jail is moving ahead informed Sand. Minor changes include additional space in the server room and more storage space. It is now in the sheetrocking stage.

The architects met with Judge Robert Benson, Court Administrator James Attwood, Sheriff Connolly to finalize security revisions. Woodhouse and Judge Benson gave a summary on these revisions.

Chairman Bakke asked the architects about possible improvements with the existing Commissioners Board Room. Commissioner Dahl pointed out that other counties have a nice quiet place for commissioners to sit down and do their work. Suggestions for changes will be brought back to the board. At this point, the project is very close to the actual bidding process. Chairman Bakke made it known the project could still be voted down if the building costs dont reflect the countys idea of reasonable numbers.

John Grindland, Highway, requested approval on his attendance at the National Association of County Engineers Conference in Biloxi, MS in March. The registration fee is $350, lodging at $105 per night x five nights, plus airfare. At the time of his application for the Highway Engineer position, Grindland told the board he was on a national transportation committee and would need to attend the conference. The county has no set policy on attending national conferences. The board will develop a policy with the intention of Grindland attending the conference as promised.

Elected officials salaries were discussed again at Mondays County Board meeting.

Newly elected County Attorney Brett Corson brought before the board his proposed salary. He passed out a detailed description of what his office is responsible for and concluded that the office is the "hub" that helps the Sheriffs and Social Services Departments function. Corson added a 5% cost of living to the current $56,500 which Mat Opat is receiving. This brings Corsons request up to $59,325 for the .8 position.

Corson also requested that Assistant County Attorney, Eric Herendeens wages be increased from the current salary of $40,885 to $43,951.38, a 7.5% hike for the 1.0 position. Corson informed the board that college grads get offers of $40,000 and felt the Assistant Attorney is above that level. He also asked for a 7.5% hike for a .4 Assistant Attorney position held by Dennis Rutgers. His current salary is $16,820 and would climb to $18,081.50 if accepted. The commissioners will review the numbers before making Corson an offer.

Sheriff Jim Connolly opened up his inquiry about his salary rather heatedly as what the board approved came in $1,800 short of his request.

"The money is in the budget and the other heads received their requests," Connolly said.

Chairman Bakke responded by saying that for four years the sheriff had been looking for the average of what other counties have been earning.

"Youre at 99%," said Bakke.

"Not the 2003 average," retorted Connolly. "Its not a large amount, $1,800," Connolly said, noting that he just wanted to be treated fairly. Commissioner Dahl agreed with Bakke feeling that the approved 2003 salary was in line with the percentages given to other elected employees. Commissioner Marc Prestby pointed out that he and Commissioner Bicknese had voted for a slightly higher salary ($500 more) and that this had been voted down. To which Chairman Bakke quickly jumped in saying that Prestby could have voted against the $64,500 and he shouldnt be patronizing the sheriff. The discussion came to a close with the Dec. 3 approved salary of $64,500 still in place.

Moving on to salaries of part-time deputies, jailers, and dispatchers, Sheriff Connolly suggested these salaries be based on what a first year deputy would be paid as part-time deputies still have to have a license. The board liked this as they would not have to deal with a cost of living raise each year. A final proposal will be brought back to the board.

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