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Answers needed from health board

To the editor:

I am not on the inside track and there may be things I don’t know. I do know trash when I smell it, and the Jefferson County Board of Health’s actions reek of trash. We are in a pandemic. What possible motive could they have to remove someone who was doing what everyone says was a good job?

Even worse, when the board has their morning meetings, they refuse to answer the questions from the public and even have the gall to say that public health has not been impacted. A quick look at coronavirus.ohio.gov and the many dashboards of data will walk you through the timeline of Jefferson County’s COVID-19 journey. Even when our surrounding counties had high levels of cases in their communities, jails, nursing homes and such, we stayed low. Our leadership from Health Commissioner Nicole Balakos kept her team focused. She was always on the news, in the paper and on social media answering questions and providing accurate information. Even if you didn’t believe the national data, you knew she would tell you the truth of what you needed to know.

Only Dr. Frank L. Petrola has done the right thing for Jefferson County. Like President Trump, they can’t pay him off or tell him what to do. Now, he is coming out and doing the right thing for our county. Where are the rest of them?

Balakos came from the private world and knew how to get results. We were lucky that her background was broad, included medical management and she worked day and night, seven days a week. No one disputes that. Now, after she put a fragile infrastructure in place that depends on her still holding it together, they pulled her out as the foundation keeping it all together. We have a black hole of a department without that leadership and we see what is happening. Results speak for themselves. What was the plan from this board?

We are going into flu season with COVID-19. The planning is huge. The board is MIA. Who would be crazy enough to work like she did? How did we reward that work? The board all say what a great job she did. During a pandemic, with the landfill legal matters still pending and they cut the leader out of the picture? It can’t be because a year and a half later they suddenly realize that the prosecutor made a mistake when they hired her after she had been on the board. Wouldn’t that be the board and prosecutor’s problem?

Please, tell us why? This is clearly not making sense based on the change in results. When you look at the board of health meetings and talk in the community, you see the widest group of people who support her. Why is that? Because Jefferson County citizens know what is right and this time, they aren’t letting the powers that be ignore them. We aren’t going away. Our public health is more important than your inflated ego.

Carole Rich

Steubenville

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