April 20, 2014

Elyria
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Interim health district head made permanent

ELYRIA — The Lorain County Board of Health unanimously approved hiring Dave Covell as the county’s new health commissioner on Wednesday.

Covell

Covell has been serving as interim health commissioner for the past several months after the retirement of Ken Pearce, who held the job for around 30 years.

The five-year contract calls for Covell to be paid $115,000 per year. Pearce was paid nearly $140,000 in 2011, the last full year he held the job.

Covell formally takes the job as the county’s General Health District is dealing with allegations that its medical director, former Lorain County Coroner Paul Matus, attempted to obstruct a sexual harassment investigation and lied about what he knew about the investigation.

Matus’ conduct wasn’t found to have risen to the level of sexual harassment, but he still faces disciplinary action, including possible termination, for the other allegations leveled against him. He is on paid leave.

Originally, Covell was hired to be deputy health commissioner after spending 25 years with the Cuyahoga County Health Board of Health.

He said he’s looking forward to the job and plans to remain in Lorain County for at least 10 years.

“I’m excited at the opportunity, and think there’s a lot of new and great things going on in public health right now,” he said.

Among his priorities will be getting the Health District accredited. He said new state rules call for all health departments in the state to be accredited by 2018 to continue to receive state funding.

The Health Board also approved bringing on Assistant County Prosecutor Chris Pyanowski as its new attorney. The board’s previous attorney, Ben Davey, is now a Domestic Relations Court magistrate.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.