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State offers to foot the bill for suggested Pender County interim health director

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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- The Pender County Board of Health has had its fair share of ups and downs. Pender County got a visit from a Raleigh representative Wednesday night offering an interesting agreement to help bring some authority to the health department.

The board held an unofficial meeting so they could not take action tonight but they definitely were given a lot to think about, in regards to where the health department could be heading in the next few weeks.

Dennis Harrington is the Deputy Director of the Administration Division of Public Health in Raleigh and drove to Pender County to speak about an interim health director.

"They need an interim that will right their ship and that will get their staff together and working in harmony," Harrington said.

At Wednesday night's meeting he offered a solution to the Pender County Board of Health. That solution is Russell Childers.

"I've used him, he's tried and true and I would put my money there just because you want your resources to go where you know you've had results," said Harrington.

Childers is retired after almost 40 years in public health. He was asked by the state to serve as interim health director for Pender County about four weeks ago.

"The guiding line is, first off, if they want me and secondly, if I look at it and I think it's something that I can do," Childers said. "You know, I don't take on a job I can't do."

Nothing is set in stone as Childers has neither accepted nor declined the position.

Harrington told the board Wednesday night that if they accept Childers and he accepts the position, the state will foot the bill for his time served as interim health director.

"Their main responsibility is to get a health director and once they get it and hire a good, qualified health director, then they can back off and the health director under the general statutes will run the department for them," said Harrington.

If the board chooses to go with another person other than Childers, the new interim's salary will have to be paid for by the board. Harrington says Childers has experience in serving as interim health director under similar conditions and has been successful in putting divided departments back together.

"It's difficult," Childers said. "It's real difficult and the longer it goes the more difficult it is. It's like a sore you got on your hands. If you don't take care of it it festers after a while and it takes more to correct that."

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A Couple of assumptions & Hopes

if he accepts the position, he'll be walking a narrow line; following proceedures set down in Raleigh & not Burgaw; and likely paying more attention to directives from Raleigh than from Burgaw.

And perhaps he'll bring certain members of the County Commission into the modern world.

And, perhaps, at long last, there will be some new blood infused into the Board of Health.