By Don Eriksson
PEPPERELL — The Oct. 20 Special Town Meeting vote against the town contracting with the regional Nashoba Associated Boards of Health spoke volumes about a desire to maintain local health services.
Had the warrant article been approved, the local elected Board of Health would have continued to run the ship with the Nashoba board contracted to help perform the several duties of health agent.
As of Oct. 21, however, Pepperell no longer had a functioning Board of Health.
Former chairman Myra Cacace tendered her resignation the day after the Special Town Meeting.
Earlier in the month, former member Mark Walsh resigned to avoid conflict of interest over adjudicating the fate of his mother-in-law, town nurse Ellen Castellano, who would have lost her job to Nashoba.
Peter Cronin is now the sole elected member still on the board. The Oct. 22 Board of Health meeting was canceled because one member does not constitute a quorum and therefore no business can be conducted.
Castellano continues to work her 30-hour week, but health board nurse Sandra Grogan was on sick leave, town administrator and personnel director Robert Hanson said late last week. Grogan is under doctor’s orders not to work in the town hall annex because she is allergic to mold.
Health board housing inspector Robert Lambert continues to work his 10 hour-per-week job. Contractor Kevin Ritchie of Civil Solutions continues to perform Title 5 septic inspections when necessary.
There is no food inspector to perform the required minimum of two inspections per year of Pepperell’s 35 food establishments, no sanitarian, and no office manager to work with contractors. In essence, there is no Board of Health.
Had the Nashoba board been retained, Cacace had said Grogan would keep her job. After a well-publicized flare-up at a recent public meeting between Cacace and Lambert, Grogan said she had been told her hours would be cut in half and she would lose her job at the end of the year.
A brighter note is Hanson’s receipt of Citizen Activity Forms for the Board of Health seats filed by three residents — former fire chief John Marriner, former health board member and selectman Scott Butcher, and last year’s health board chairman Virginia Malouin, whom Walsh had defeated in the April election.
Hanson said Malouin has since withdrawn her name.
Although the Board of Health is a wholly separate elective office, new members can be appointed to fill unexpired terms by a joint meeting of selectmen and the health board (Cronin).