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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Pender County Health Department worker who has been in the middle of several controversies within the department has a new job title.

Interim Health Director Amber Parker says Shirley Steele was promoted to Director of Nursing effective July 11. Parker said she made the decision to make the move June 30.

With the new title, Steele, who had been serving as the department’s Bioterrorism and Preparedness Coordinator, also gets a raise from $53,877 a year to $56,671.

Steele was the department’s Nursing Supervisor until being suspended and reassigned by then Health Director Jack Griffith after a sharps incident involving a dental intern at the department. Another employee accused Steele of mishandling the situation, but a county investigation cleared her, and Steele received back pay.

In June, Steele’s private personnel file was leaked to WWAY and other media outlets. A criminal investigation led the Pender County Sheriff’s Office to charge Health Department employee James Thomas Bellizzi with illegally releasing the information.

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