Board of Health Refuses to Vote on Health Agent Appointment

Expressing concern over recent resignations in the Reading Health Department, the Board of Health was unable to officially appoint the town’s new Health Agent at its meeting on June 21 in the Berger Room at Town Hall. Although the new agent, Laura Vlasuk, has started her position, state statute requires that she be appointed by the board. The agent serves as “The eyes and ears of the Board.” according to Board of Health Chair John Costigan. Board member Nancy Dockter expressed concern over the board’s liability in appointing a new agent citing concerns regarding who she reports to if there is a conflict between the board and town officials. Board member Elizabeth Shurland stated that she had knowledge about recent resignations that gave her concerns about a new appointment. Selectmen representative to the Board of Health Dan Ensminger then cautioned that personnel issues should not be discussed in open meeting and were not the purview of the Board of Health. Costigan then called for a motion to approve the appointment. Neither Dockter nor Shurland was willing to make a motion. After several minutes of tense discussion, Costigan offered the motion himself. Receiving no second to the motion from the other two members of the Board, the motion was not voted on. The board did appoint John Fralick as part-time health inspector retroactive to September 11, 2016.

The meeting then moved to reports. When Costigan asked for reports, the board was informed that Vlasuk, though she had the reports, could not offer them because she was not appointed as the Health Agent. The chair offered a report regarding a conversation he had with Representative Brad Jones about legislation that has been introduced which would increase the age that a person could purchase cigarettes in the Commonwealth to twenty-one. Jones believes it may not even make the floor of the Massachusetts House for a vote. The board also reviewed plans for new regulations regarding the use of pesticides on town owned land. The board adjourned at 6:30pm.

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