Baltimore County Digest

Baltimore County Digest

February 22, 2006

Second deputy director of health to be hired

Baltimore County plans to hire a second deputy health director to comply with a state law requiring that one of the county's top two health officials be a licensed physician in Maryland.

State and county officials said they misinterpreted the state's definition of "physician" at the time of Pierre Vigilance's hiring as county health officer in the fall. They said they believed Vigilance qualified as a physician because he holds a medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University.

But the state attorney general's office advised the state and county last week that a physician is defined as someone licensed by the Maryland Board of Physicians. Neither Vigilance nor Deputy County Health Officer Ellen R. Clayton, who is a nurse, is licensed by the board.

Officials asked for the attorney general's advice last week after being asked by the Towson Times about Vigilance's hiring. The county's plans to hire a second deputy health director were reported yesterday in that newspaper's sister publication, The Jeffersonian.

"What you really are talking about here is a technical compliance issue with the law," said Donald I. Mohler, a spokesman for County Executive James T. Smith Jr., who appointed Vigilance. The appointment was confirmed by the County Council and approved by the state health department.

Vigilance, a former assistant health commissioner for Baltimore City who also holds a master's degree in public health, said that when he applied to the county, the only requirements in the job description were a medical degree and experience in public health.

Eight of 19 other health officers in Maryland jurisdictions are not licensed physicians, said Janet S. Nugent, the state health department's human resources director.

Mohler said the county health department has four physicians on staff. He said the county has converted a physician vacancy into a second deputy position, with an annual salary of $91,000, and will begin a search this week.

Josh Mitchell

Towson

Eye-group grant proposal withdrawn

A proposal that would have given $27,500 in public grants to a Towson eye-care firm for employee training was withdrawn before a scheduled vote of the County Council last night.

County economic development officials had proposed giving $3,500 in county grants and $24,000 in federal grants to Katzen Eye Group. But some council members questioned the idea of the county giving money to a private company for in-house employee training.

The bill had been submitted at the request of the county administration. Donald I. Mohler, a spokesman for County Executive James T. Smith Jr., said the county might reintroduce the proposal at a later time.

In other council action, the council voted 5-1 last night in favor of extending a building moratorium in Middle River through Aug. 1. Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, a Fullerton Democrat, proposed the bill to give county planners more time to create a long-term growth plan for the area. The initial moratorium, put in place in May, was for six months and was extended for another three months. Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Ruxton Democrat, voted against the bill. Councilman John Olszewski Sr., a Dundalk Democrat, was absent.

Josh Mitchell

Southeast

Convicted rapist sought by police

Baltimore County police were looking yesterday for a convicted rapist who they say has failed to register with the state.

Matthew Patrick Keenan, 23, with a last known address in the 3700 block of North Point Road near Dundalk, is wanted for failing to register with the state's sex offender registry, police said.

Keenan was convicted in the 2002 rape of a child in Baltimore City, leading to the requirement that he register as a sex offender, police said. He was last seen in the Armistead Gardens area of Baltimore, police said.

Keenan is described as a white male, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information is asked to call Baltimore County police at 410-307-2020 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-756-2587.

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