Board of Health Recommended New Member, Appointed Officers

Since the board met via zoom, attendance was relatively straight forward. It did, however, require an installation (brief) of zoom.

The meeting began with the nomination of officers. Current Board Chair Jan Ivers mentioned a desire not to return as chair, but expressed doubts that anyone else would wish to take the position.

She and Josh Letcher (County Commissioner, representing District 3) were both nominated for board chair and the floor was opened for comment, which went as follows:

The first public comment came from DC Orr, of Libby. He began by remarking on the necessity of use of parliamentary procedure by the board chair, and suggesting it was an area in which Jan Ivers had been lacking as chair.

Jonathon Allen spoke next, suggested that officers should be chosen later, once a new member is appointed, since George (Jamison) stepped down.

Deb (presumably Debra Armstrong, board member representing Eureka) spoke next, in favor of Josh as board chair. She expressed some concerns about rules of order not being followed, not sticking with the agenda, etc.

Laura (presumably Laura Crismore representing Libby) inquired if it was necessary to follow the bylaws. In response to her question the bylaws were cited and the board seemed to conclude following them was necessary.

Josh Letcher remarked that he appreciated being nominated and that he understood the frustration with the way meetings had been going. He also praised Jan Ivers for improving in her role as board chair. He concluded by commenting on the difficulties the current meeting schedule would cause him, given his need to travel if he were elected Board Chair.

Then Jan Ivers spoke, remarking that “Four years ago, no one wanted this position, so I took it”.

Jim Seifert (representing Troy) referenced a comment Josh Letcher had made previously about acting as a liaison between the board and the county commissioners, asking Josh to clarify his role on the board.

Josh Letcher replied that he did not remember the comment, but did remember an email, pointing out that the county doesn’t actually have a representative on the board from north county.

The Board, upon voting to appoint a board chair appeared to do so unanimously. Yes, Josh Letcher and the board member that nominated him both voted in favor of appointing the other candidate. Sara (Sarah Mertes, county representative out of the Libby area) was appointed as vice chair (3 votes to 2, with one abstaining. The other candidate was Debra Armstrong of Eureka). After the definition of secretary was read aloud from the bylaws, Jim Seifert accepted the nomination and was appointed secretary (no other nominations).

Board Recommendation: The board interviewed 6 candidates, rating them using a rubric (not provided the public). Interviews were in alphabetical order

  • Scott Bernard.
    • Scott Bernard lives in Eureka. He is a Eureka town councilmen with training in Hazmat and emergency response. He has experience in the American Red Cross as well as time as a Volunteer Fire Fighter, in addition to the training he received during his time with the army.
    • When asked about his reasons for wanting to be on the board, he advocated diverse backgrounds and experience in board members.
    • When asked his opinions about the pandemic response, he stated he had mixed feelings.
  • Anne German
    • Ann German is of the Libby Area. She was very blunt that she should not be appointed in order to represent North County, and would defer to someone from North Lincoln County (were that what the board was seeking- this was not confirmed to be the case), though she is interested in serving if another opening occurs.
  • Robin Gray,
    • Robin Gray is a native Montanan, born in Hamilton. She has 43 years in education, a degree in Elementary Ed, and a Masters in Education (and administration?). She referenced some of her time as a superintendent. She stated that she has prior board experience (listing several boards) and remarked that she brings a “team atmosphere”
    • On the pandemic response, she said she would have liked more communication or more ongoing communication on the pandemic, so that the board could promote factual information.
  • Latimer Hoke
    • Latimer was the youngest of the candidates. He has a bachelors of science and secondary Ed, a masters of science in education. He has been an EMT for 11 years, and a member of the ski patrol for 10. He has spent the last 8 years as a teacher in Eureka. He remarked that his board experience more limited than the other members, since he’d had less time to accumulate it. He has been on the ambulance board in Eureka.
    • Asked his opinion on the pandemic response, he remarked that he has observed a lot of passing the buck and not leading by example.
  • Patty Kincheloe
    • Patty Kincheloe chose Montana rather than being born here. Her degree is in education. She has a Masters in Educational Leadership and was a principal for a few years. She’s spent 30 years in the public school and 5 years in an alternative school. She currently substitutes at Chrysalis. Patty Kincheloe has spent 18 years with the ambulance, and worked with children with fetal alcohol.
    • On the pandemic response, she stated that she believes that we should wear masks when we’re in a spot people feel uncomfortable
  • Jeff Peterson
    • Jeff Peterson has a PhD in Health Communication. This would be his first community board, he’s been on several academic boards
    • On the Pandemic: He stated that it certainly could have been handled better, coordination from top down could have been better. Peterson remarked that there had been a lot of community passion around this issue which could have been better harnessed.
    • Jeff Peterson believes that his job and specialty on the board would be to “help people find appropriate information and the sources we can all agree on and translate that”

The board discussed the candidates briefly. It came down to Patty Kincheloe vs Jeff Peterson, with what sounded like 4 votes in favor of Jeff Peterson. The recommendation will go to the Commissioners, who have final say.

At 7:40 (it began at 6), the meeting finally moved the the next agenda item and the board went on to hear from Jeff Peterson (yes, the same Jeff Peterson) who’s working on contract with the Health Department. Peterson clarified that he would not serve on the board until his contract was over.

But, you don’t have to take my word for it. Go watch the whole thing! Fair warning, though, it’s about 3 hours. Or- read about the rest of the meeting.

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