Local News

The second of three articles on why officials in Barry and Eaton counties voted the way they did on the Barry Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) TOST regulation quotes Eaton County Commissioner Jane Whitacre.


The BEDHD is controlled by the Board of Health which is made up of three commissioners from both Eaton and Barry counties. Barry County Commissioners are Ben Geiger, David Jackson and Dan Parker; Eaton County Commissioners are Blake Mulder, Whitacre and Joseph Brehler.  

Whitacre lists her reasons for voting to keep TOST at a Feb. 28 meeting.



  1. “It is my perspective that government should work for the people paying for it.  However, it is also the responsibility of a county commissioner to balance facts, science and the best information available to make an informed decision.
  2. “This issue has been festering for years.  It has eaten up a tremendous amount of time, energy, resources and attention. 
  3. “This issue is complex.  There are several lenses from which people are viewing it:  Personal / Property rights, cost to the property owner, public health prevention, water quality and safety and TOST's administration by the Health Department to name a few.  Individual factions formed around these various lenses that couldn't or were not willing to consider the others.
  4. “People are entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts.  The use of a commonly accepted set of facts and data has never been agreed upon, hence deepening the divide.  It often feels like we live in very different realities despite other commonalities we have as people.
  5. “Commissioner Geiger commandeered a community survey about TOST that was in my opinion subjective and biased (no real scientific validity) and used it to document the public sentiment in Barry County.  Eaton County was not included nor invited to.  That should have been considered if a true understanding of public sentiment was to be objectively considered.
  6. “At the March 1 hearing in Charlotte, some of the members of the BEDHD promised that when TOST is gone, BEDHE will invent another, better program to safeguard our people and water.  Prevention was the goal of health department in TOST.  Not inspecting watersheds or farms or environmental clean up.  The health department will be reducing staffing and its budget when TOST is gone.  There's no real capacity nor responsibility for the health department to start something new to replace it now.  That's not happening.
  7. “The Barry Eaton District Health Department did not create TOST to generate revenue or to control the public.  Elected officials on community boards voted to approve the implementation of a TOST program for Barry and Eaton counties for public health prevention reasons.  Contaminated water can kill people.  It is serious stuff.  Accusing and vilifying the staff of BEDHD is inappropriate and undeserving.    
  8. “I feel strongly that my vote against the repeal of TOST reflects the perspective of my constituents in suburban Eaton County. But I also care about rural Eaton County and Barry County.  We share the same region, state, nation and planet.  We are all steward of God's green Earth, not just our own backyards. 

“I wish we could have found more common ground because I believe we have a lot more in common as individuals and families than we do differences.  And I appreciate the passion and effort of everyone involved in this long, drawn out process, but I don't want feces in our drinking water.”










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