A couple of months ago, I wrote about the tangled web that the Board of Health has woven with their retaliatory actions against Berry and Deanna Meadows. Recently the web began to unravel a bit when Rebecca Fugitt contradicted her own testimony from the hearing to revoke Berry Meadows' installer's license.
During that hearing, Ms. Fugitt, an employee of the Ohio Department of Health, testified that the tanks installed by Mr. Meadows and others floated because of problems with their installation. It should be noted that although other installers had these same tanks float at a time when we had record amounts of precipitation; Mr. Meadows is the only one who has had his license threatened. This may have something to do with the fact that Mr. Meadows and his wife have created a Facebook group, The Trumbull County Septic News, dedicated to exposing the corruption of the Board of Health.
During that initial hearing, Ms. Fugitt cited as evidence an installation manual that was not the manual for the actual product. Also, although she reluctantly agreed that issues with the floating tanks stopped after Enviroguard's manufacturer representative, Stark Aeration, corrected the floats, she still insisted that the fault lies with the installer and not with the product or the manufacturer.
The real problem with the floating tanks was twofold. First, these tanks were installed during an eight-month period that was the rainiest on record and the clay dominant soil in our area was completely saturated. Second, the manufacturer's manual set the requirements for ballast that were too low to overcome buoyant forces.
While Ms. Fugitt would not concede to that problem during Mr. Meadows' hearing, it is now evident that she was aware that that was the true issue because of the draft rules from the Department of Health that she participated in creating.
The draft rules state that ''installation instructions shall list any product specific procedures utilized to address buoyancy concerns with the tank and identify all sit and installation conditions where these procedures are necessary.''
These rules were created in February 2012, well before the hearing in which Ms. Fugitt testified in September and November. Ms. Fugitt clearly knew that the problems with the floating tanks were not any installer's fault when she testified. She also admitted that this issue is the manufacturer's responsibility at a statewide meeting hosted by the Mahoning County Health Department on Jan. 24 of this year, contradicting her testimony from the Meadows' hearing.
Why would Ms. Fugitt testify to something she knew wasn't true, possibly opening herself up to perjury charges? I'm not completely sure if this is ineptitude. She did not seem to have an understanding of what she was doing during the hearing. She cited a manual that was for a different type of tank and didn't seem to understand why that was a problem. She, as the expert, also had a difficult time identifying which photos in evidence were those of Mr. Meadows' work. It is also possible that she was just doing what her friends at the Trumbull County Board of Health were asking her to do, assuming that with a subject this dry, no one would actually pay attention to what she was saying.
Regardless of why she testified falsely, she did, and as I wrote previously, the Trumbull County Board of Health stopped the hearing before Mr. Meadows had a chance to present any evidence in his own defense. They stated that they would make a decision in January. As of this writing, they have not announced a decision. Perhaps they think that he will just go away.
Mr. Meadows is not going away, and others are joining him in pulling the threads of the Board of Health's web. People are waking up to the problems we have with our Board of Health.
In March, the District Advisory Council will be electing one member of the Board. Board member Denise Allen's term is expiring. There is someone running who wants to bring some transparency to the Board: John Hull, former county commissioner candidate.
Mr. Hull pledges to work towards getting us out from under the consent decree which forces us to have stricter rules for septic systems than the rest of the state. Additionally, he believes that the Board of Health needs to be more financially accountable. The vendetta against Mr. Meadows is a good example of how the board has wasted time and money.
The District Advisory Council, which votes of members of the Board of Health is made up of representatives, usually mayors and trustees, from the townships, villages, and cities that are in the Trumbull County Health District. These trustees and mayors need to hear from their citizens about this issue. Do your part to unravel this thread and make sure your local public officials know where you stand.
Yoder is a West Farmington resident. Email her at email@example.com.