Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 19, 2018

RUSS taking over sanitation services for Henry County

Board of Health asks for accountability, code-driven work
Mar 28, 2018

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Less than a month into RUSS overseeing sanitation for Henry County, Buzz Benzoni is impressed by what he’s seen.

“I’m proud of what (they’re) pulling off,” said Benzoni, chair of the Board of Health, during the Board of Health meeting on Tuesday, March 27. Speaking about Bruce Hudson from RUSS, Benzoni continued, “We’ve got someone who can handle (sanitation) now. And I’m sincere in saying that. I’ve watched you work. You’ve done a great job.”

RUSS entered into an agreement with Board of Health earlier this month to continue the sanitation duties in the county that were left vacant by the former sanitarian’s sudden termination. After a discussion with Hudson, the board left February’s meeting certain RUSS was the right fit to get the county back on track and fulfill the environmental health requirements.

Hudson will report directly to the Board of Health each month, attending meetings and giving updates on how many permits were issued and what inspections were done.

“Because of what we just went through, we want accountability,” Benzoni said to Hudson as he gave his first update on Tuesday, referring to the reason for the former sanitarian’s termination and criminal charges being investigated.

Hudson is not intimidated by the challenges laying before him, saying that he has a folder on his desk with all current permits, A-Z, and if the board requests each individual permit’s progress, he is able to get them that information.

RUSS’ priorities are wastewater, wells, tanning and tattoo parlors, pools and spas and septic pump inspections. Hudson doesn’t want inspections to intimidate people. He sees his position at RUSS as a partnership with the county.

“Our first priority is obviously regulation, but a very close second is to ensure when (contractors) are installing a system or working with the public, it’s public safety. That’s our main priority is public safety,” Hudson said in an interview with The News.

Hudson is also a man who abides strictly by the code set up by the state of Iowa. This is, again, to ensure the health and safety of residents. When it comes to sewer systems, he wants to ensure the right system is being installed and that it is being installed properly. When it comes to tanning, tattoo, pool and spa inspections, it’s making sure chemicals are being used properly and that the businesses have the proper paperwork to continue practicing.

“It’s very code-driven. It’s very black and white. If it’s in the code, it needs to be followed,” Hudson said. “We try to get as close to perfect every time.”

To do this, Hudson wanted to start with education — educating contractors, homeowners and the public — on what permits need to be pulled and when.

Hudson even held a breakfast for contractors earlier this month at the Henry County Courthouse to talk to and meet them face to face, talk to them about the process of how to pull a permit, permit fees and making sure they know they can come to the RUSS office, which is no longer in the Public Health building.

“We’re trying to learn the process too,” Hudson said.

RUSS also serves Louisa County for sanitation. They will be splitting their time between the two counties, being in Henry County Mondays and Wednesdays. On Fridays, they will go where they’re needed to pick up anything that needs to get done before the weekend.

“It’s been a hectic transition, but as smooth as we could ask for I suppose,” Hudson said. “I’m just here to pick up pieces and try to put a program together that Henry County can be proud of.”

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