Health dept. puts levy renewal on Nov. 3 ballot

Coronavirus has already become the face of the Nov. 3 Wood County Health Department renewal levy.
“Residents have had the opportunity to recognize why the health department is here and why its programs
are important,” said Ben Batey, health commissioner.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Batey asked the Wood County Commissioners for their support of the .5-mill levy
that raises $1.5 million annually for operations. It costs the owner of a $100,000 home $13 annually.

The levy was last on the ballot in 2010 as a replacement.
Batey said that the department is in a very good financial position and doesn’t need a replacement now.

He added that they are also sensitive to financial struggles that some may be occurring due to COVID-19.

“With coronavirus and the economic hit to a lot of families, we certainly didn’t want to talk about any
kind of increase,” Batey said.
The current levy does not expire until December 2021, but Batey and health department supporters want to
put it on the Nov. 3 ballot to get ahead of the game. Batey was joined at Tuesday’s commissioners
meeting by Cathy Nelson, president of the health board, and Frank McLaughlin, former board president and
chairman of the levy campaign.
Andrew Kalmar, county administrator, mentioned the strides the department has taken in advancing the
community health center and opening a dental facility.
“We’ve been able to leverage a large amount of federal dollars to bring them into the county, along with
state dollars,” Batey said.
The levy is a smaller portion of funding than it was in the past, he said.
Commissioner Ted Bowlus said that he appreciated the weekly communication with Batey, on the phone to
community leaders around the county.
“It showed great leadership. You’re to be commended as a department,” Bowlus said.
“With the COVID-19, you have been very visible,” said Commissioner Doris Herringshaw.
Batey also told the commissioners that the health department would be moving its Women, Infants and
Children’s office from the county-owned Dunbridge Road offices to the health department on East Gypsy
Lane Road.
“It was always our goal to bring that program back,” he said.
It’s an inconvenience for mothers with children to have to go to the Dunbridge Road site, then come to
the health department for followup.
With many services going to telehealth due to coronavirus, now is the time to make the move, Batey said.

“We have some existing space in the building that can be repurposed,” he said.
The lease for the Dunbridge Road office expires Oct. 1.