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FIRST ON 3: Fifth member quits Pender Health Board; Brown responds to criticism

READ MORE: FIRST ON 3: Fifth member quits Pender Health Board; Brown responds to criticism
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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Some members of the Pender County Health Board say they are sick and tired of the way things are being handled, and they've had enough. Since last Friday, five board members, including chair Terri King, have resigned.

It seems the board can't get its act together. One leader says he's taking the blame for the board's issues.

"The commissioners started looking at areas that we needed to make cuts or where we could justify or not justify the budget," Pender County Commissioner George Brown said. "The Health Department was one of those areas, and there were a lot of resentfully feelings and behavior once the commissioners started doing that."

Brown serves on the 10-person Board of Health. He has been working with the members to select a new health director since September. The process has been less than successful.

"It's not really fair to blame one person," Brown said. "There's a combination of problems here, and that board carries as much responsibility. Each and every member on that board carries responsibility. I'm only one vote."

In resignation letters several board members say they blame Brown for the board's problems. Dr. Heather O'Brien writes in her letter of resignation, "It has become apparent that upon Chairman Brown's designation to our board that progress has been impeded dramatically."

Brown says he thinks the Health Board needs someone to blame for its dysfunction.

"If they need someone to attack for their lack of decision or their lack of ability to hire someone, it looks like that's what they've done," he said.

Brown says no one has been dragging their feet to find a new health director. He says the county commissioners have bent over backwards to help, but he does not think anyone wants to be a part of the drama.

"I think a lot of folks have heard about the problems we've had in Pender County and just frankly are not interested in getting in the middle of this," Brown said.

Brown says the County Commission plans to start accepting applications for new Health Board members soon. He says he thinks they need a strong board before they can get a new health director.

The Health Department has been without a director since Jack Griffith retired in September, ending an ugly series of battles among him, the staff and the Board of Health.

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