Kosciusko County Commissioners on Tuesday held off on three appointment recommendations to the Board of Health, including Public Health Officer Dr. William Remington.

The Kosciusko County Board of Health unanimously recommended on Oct. 18 that Remington be reappointed to serve another four-year term. His current term expires Dec. 31 and he has served the county as health officer since 1994. Under new state law, the Commissioners have the final say regarding the health officer’s appointment.

However, at the Nov. 9 Commissioners meeting, dozens of county residents spoke to request Remington not be reappointed, citing the mask mandate at Warsaw Community Schools, a “hot mic” incident at Warsaw City Hall and Remington’s long tenure as health officer as some of the reasons he should not be reappointed. Jody Cox, a “Warsaw mom,” also presented a petition of nearly 600 people who do not want Remington reappointed. The Commissioners said they would take everything presented to them “under advisement.”

The other appointments to the Board of Health include Dr. Brian Reichenbach and Larry Coplen. At the Nov. 9 meeting, at least one person questioned whether Reichenbach and WCS Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert might present conflicts of interest on the Board of Health because of Hoffert’s position and Reichenbach is married to Heather Reichenbach, the school board’s president.

At Tuesday’s Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Bob Conley, who is the Commissioners president for 2021, said, “We are going to withhold our recommendation for the Board of Health medical director. In that Board, we feel that there’s a lot of discussions we need to have. It is a tough decision that we have to make. We want to get input and make sure we make the right decision on that Board. So we’re going to take a long and hard look at that. We won’t make that appointment today.”

Commissioner Brad Jackson agreed, saying more due diligence needs to be done and the Commissioners are getting a lot of input on the matter.

“I would echo that,” Commissioner Cary Groninger said. “This is a tough decision. I know no matter what we do, our recommendation is at the end, some people are not going to like the decision. We’re taking this very serious from the perspective, we realize that there’s a lot of people that are very passionate about this issue. We want to make sure we’re able to hear those people.”

He said they need to look at all the facts, talk to people to make sure they’re making the most informed decision that they can.

“I know, personally, I served with Dr. Remington on some of the COVID meetings and such, so I guess we’re just trying to work through it and make sure we’re making a decision that we feel is the right one for our community to move forward,” Groninger said.

He said they hear both sides of the story and the Commissioners “are doing what they can.”

Groninger said he is not for mask mandates or vaccine mandates. “And I think sometimes there’s confusion on what this vote is or isn’t. And I want to make sure we’re making the right choice,” he said.

Conley agreed, saying they want to do what’s best for the children and grandchildren.

“I agree, we are a county that’s already made decisions. We are a Constitution Sanctuary County, and we’re going to do our best to do what we feel, in the long run, is best for the majority of the people. We hear you, on both sides. My phone is ringing off the hook, my email is full,” Conley said.

He said, from his perspective, “I haven’t made my mind up one way or another. I hear from both sides, I agree with both sides. So what do you do? You just gotta pray about it and hope that we have the guidance that we need.”

The other board appointments for 2022, which were unanimously approved by the Commissioners, include: Alan Alderfer, Alcohol Beverage Commission, one-year term; Kevin McSherry, Board of Zoning Appeals, one year; Dr. Lee Harman, BZA, one year; Jon Garber, Bowen Center Board, one year; Cary Groninger, Drainage Board and Emergency Management Advisory Board, one year each; Mark Skibowski, Kosciusko County Convention and Recreation Visitors Commission, two years; Brad Jackson, Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation and OrthoWorx, one year each; Susie Stookey and Phyllis Olinger, PTABOA, one year each; Dan Thystrup, Mike Metzger, Doug Hanes, Redevelopment Commission, one year each; Jeremy Mullins, Redevelopment Commission non-voting school board representative, two-year term; Jon Roberts, St. Joseph River Basin, one year; Jackson and Marsha McSherry, Strategic Planning Committee, one year each; Jackson, wage committee, one year.

Department head appointments, for one-year terms, include Dan Richard, Area Plan director; Marsha McSherry, county administrator; Ed Ormsby, county attorney; Steve Moriarty, County Highway superintendent; Bill Holder, GIS; Ed Rock, Homeland Security/LEPC; Cathy Reed, human resource director; Bob Momeyer, systems administrator; and Darryl McDowell, veteran service officer.

Appointments also approved included Dennis Darr, Drainage Board, four-year term; Linda Stookey, North Webster Community Public Library, four-year term; and John Sloan, weights and measures, one-year term.