Greenfield Health Department to start anew

  • The offices at the Greenfield Health Department. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/20/2019 6:25:24 AM

GREENFIELD — By next month the Health Department will effectively press restart. 

The city’s contracted health inspector, Jami Kolosewicz, resigned last week. She once was a full-time inspector with Greenfield, left to take a similar job in Orange, but had been brought back to assist one day a week. 

Kolosewicz’s resignation follows the departure of the city’s full-time health inspector Ivan Kwagala, who left earlier this month after spending a couple of months on the job. 

Its administrative clerk, Jasmine Ward, who has been with the department through the turnover it’s faced the past two years, issued her resignation. 

“She has been a pillar in the health office,” outgoing Board of Health Chairman Steve Adam said. “She’s handled all of this turmoil. She’s come in day to day and has a smile on her face and a great attitude. We’re really going to miss her. It’s unfortunate. I fully understand why she’s leaving.” 

“These people don’t feel secure,” Mayor William Martin said. The department has struggled with stable funding. “What we’re talking about is job security. And honest value of their work.”

The department is run by Valerie Bird, the experienced health agent for the foothills towns. She was hired this month as director of the Greenfield Health Department. Until June 1, she is working part-time. 

Greenfield’s health department has gone through brief stretches where it did not have an in-house inspector on staff. The city fired its previous health director in Feb. 2017 when it learned he did not meet qualifications for the job and had lied on his application, following reporting by the Recorder. 

Then the department ran into issues with funding, which depending on political perspective, was a byproduct of mismanagement of the budget from either the City Council or the mayor’s office. By the time the department received funding to pay for a new inspector, it entered a period where it no longer had a health agent.

“When you reduce the budget, the inspection departments were crippled,” Martin said, calling out At-Large Councilor Isaac Mass and Precinct 3 Councilor Brickett Allis, who is running for mayor. 

“It’s not a secret that Greenfield has an issue in the health department and people are reluctant to come aboard,” Adam said.

Adam recently announced he will not re-up his position on the health board when his term expires June 30. Adam took over as the chair last year from longtime leader Dr. William Doyle, who has remained on the board. 

“We are interviewing people, so the hope is we get this new director in and we start the rebuilding process,” Adam said. “Come June 1, it’s all new. Everything is new. Hopefully we’ve bottomed out and we will work our way out.” 

An administrative employee in the Greenfield assessor’s office may seek a transfer to fill in the Health Department. Unionized city employees have the right to apply for jobs in other departments. 

The assessor’s office has recently taken a hit in budget talks as councilors have questioned whether it’s adequately staffed to ensure the city’s homes are properly valued. (Higher-valued homes could help pay for political lightning rods like the schools and the library.) Mass has criticized the department for outsourcing its work leading to what he believes to be less accurate information. 

“It’s a foolish, ridiculous idea,” Martin said. “It’s not outsourcing. It’s providing professional resources for the city of Greenfield.”

While the assessor’s office is facing budget questions, Martin said he looks forward to the health and building departments steadying. 

“We’re building these departments again,” Martin said. “All of these departments over the past three years have been brought to the bare skeleton.” 

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264




Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906

 

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