Gary, Sleezer back on board until issue resolved in court
An appeal to reinstate two Cherokee County Board of Health members recently dismissed due to a residency requirement ruling has been filed in District Court and now awaits a District Court opinion.
Last week, the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors, acting on an opinion rendered by Cherokee County Attorney Jamie Bowers, dismissed longtime BOH members, chairman Dr. Tom Gary, and Dale Sleezer Jr., because they do not live in Cherokee County.
The matter surfaced at a January 29 Supervisors meeting when Cherokee attorney Dan Meloy, representing the Cherokee Regional Medical Center, challenged Gary and Sleezer's BOH membership, basing it on his interpretation of Iowa Code that Meloy said stipulates a residency requirement.
When Bowers agreed after forming his opinion of the Code and conferring with the Iowa Attorney General's Office, the Supervisors acted at their weekly meeting on February 6 and appointed Cherokee Dr. Timothy Rice and Marcus farmer and retired veterinarian Dr. Bruce Hiller to replace Gary and Sleezer.
However, Cherokee attorney Will Cook, representing Gary and Sleezer, then filed the appeal that reinstates Gary and Sleezer to the BOH until the matter comes before a District Judge in the future. When that will be is anyone's guess at this time, according to Bowers.
It is Cook's opinion and contention that the Iowa Code cited (69.2) does not stipulate any residential requirement.
According to filed documents, the appeal by the plaintiffs supercedes their removal from the BOH and, until the appeal is heard by the District Court, or their regular term expires, the plaintiffs shall remain members of the BOH.
Dr. Gary, who claimes Yankton, S.D. as his address, was first appointed to the BOH in 1966 and has served continually since that time. His latest reappointment was December 19, 2006.
Sleezer, a pork producer in Buena Vista County, was first appointed to the BOH in 2000. His latest reappointment was December 27, 2005.
The issue has become controversial and further muddled by the ongoing efforts of the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors to put the Public Health Department under the auspices of the Cherokee Regional Medical Center in an admitted budget-cutting exercise.
Whether Gary and Sleezer remain on the BOH, or are replaced with Rice and Hiller, now remains to be seen until the appeal is heard in District Court. Bowers said the Supervisors, as defendants, could either accept the future court ruling, or appeal it.
The BOH must first sign off on the PHD's move to the CRMC, before the Supervisors can ultimately vote on the matter.
Other members of the 5-member Cherokee County BOH are Dave Appleby and Dr. Ed Burkhalter of Cherokee, and Liz White of Aurelia.