Health department investigating E.coli outbreak at Stony Lake

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By Leigh Ann Rutledge

CCM Reporter

The Carroll County General Health District (health department) board learned of an E. coli issue at Stony Lake during the Nov. 17 meeting. 

According to Courtney Grossman, director of environmental health, there could be several reasons for the issue. She noted the lake has been drained due to a dam issue and a lot of the homes are up for sale. The lots are generally very small and septic systems tend to be older, such as dry/leach wells. These wells may remain if they are not creating a problem. However, many of the septic systems are too close to the water wells. 

With the area being named “Stony Lake” for a reason, water wells cannot be drilled deep, and, in some instances, more than one residence shares a well. 

Grossman said if the sewage systems are identified as the problem, the area may have to install a community package plant which is a small treatment plant. 

There are 40 homes they plan to take samples from for testing. To date 11 out of 35 have tested positive for E. coli. 

Grossman noted she looked back in the old files, and they had the same issue before. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH)is taking priority in the investigation. 

“There is a lot to look into before considering putting in a centralized water system or sewer systems,” Grossman said. 

The board approved a resolution to file a formal complaint with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to request a collaborative investigation with the ODH and the health department regarding private water wells and sanitary sewers at properties located around Stony Lake. The risk of E. coli in multiple private water wells is creating a public health risk to the potable drinking water and residents of the community. 

No one has gotten sick from the contaminated water. 

The board also approved wage increases for several employees all effective Dec. 11, the first payroll of fiscal year 2022. The following received a three percent increase: Tina Marini, REHS; Corinne Ren, environmental health administrative assistant; Kelly Engelhart, health commissioner; Natalie Blevins, public health nurse; Jessica Slater, director of nursing; and Jaycee Hudson, administrative assistant. 

Amy Campbell, office administrator, wage was increased from $26.78 to $28.78 per hour effective Dec. 11. Courtney Grossman, director of environmental health, received a wage increase from $25.24 to $27 per hour. Due to the increase in the wage of the full-time health commissioner, the increases were warranted to remain competitive and keep the health dept. leadership in alignment with wage. 

Caitlin Mathews-Smith’s position is changing from a community health educator to the community engagement coordinator and necessitates a higher wage. Her increase will be from $19.57 to $21 per hour. 

Nursing Administrative Assistant Kristen Long’s rate of pay will go from $12.36 to $14 per hour. The health dept. is working towards increasing the starting pay rate at the dept. Starting and providing the position with a higher pay increase will help work towards the goal and staff retention.

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