Barry County citizen Shirley Barnum read a statement at last week's Barry County Commission meeting, asking the commissioners “to support an effort to bring the Barry County Health Department home to Barry County” The Barry-Eaton District Health Department now serves both Barry and Eaton counties.
Barnum said she worked in the accounting field for 27 years, “and I understand numbers. We know this will save in the range of $300,000 to $400,000 a year in taxes. We need to have oversight o our health department's spending, which we do not seem to have at this tiime."
Barnum is inviting people to attend the next health department board meeting in Hastings at 330 West Woodlawn Avenue on March 28, at 9:30 a.m. She also plans to write a letter to the editor asking those interested to come to a meeting in the Tyden Center to see how much interest there is separating from Eaton County. “We’ll see what happens…the health department budget is $6 million to $7 million a year...we need to start saving money."
In October last year, Commissioner Howard “Hoot” Gibson requested the commission appoint an Ad Hoc committee to study the feasibility of Barry County having its own health department; Commissioners Jon Smelker, Dan Parker and Heather Wing made up the committee. The results of their study will be given at the March 26 commissioner’s meeting, Smelker said..
Originally funded by the Kellogg Foundation, the Barry County Health Department began operating in a wing of Pennock Hospital in 1931. Barry and Eaton counties became a district health department around 1966 to increase its population and be eligible for more state and federal funds.