Mendocino places Air Quality Control Officer on administrative leave

Dave Brooksher

Redwood Times

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has placed Air Quality Control Officer Chris Brown, with the Mendocino Air Quality Management District, on administrative leave pending the findings of an investigation. Third District Supervisor Johnny Pinches declined to comment on specifics, though he did tell the Redwood Times, "There’s been some accusations, but we’re going to wait until the investigation comes out."

This move came in closed session at last week’s special meeting. The board also reaffirmed a recent emergency declaration as a result of flooding at the county’s Public Health facility on Dora Ave. in Ukiah. The incident began when a coupler connecting two sections of water pipe burst in the ceiling -- resulting in significant flooding damage to more than 50% of the structure.

"Maybe this coupler wasn’t tightened up to the tension that it should have been," Pinches said.

There could also be potential complications from asbestos -- and there are contractors monitoring the situation. Pinches estimates that this emergency will cost the county roughly $1 million by the time it’s over, but those costs are expected to be covered by insurance.

Many staffers have been displaced to Fort Bragg and Willits, but Pinches maintains that while things may have been chaotic for half a workday, service has been basically uninterrupted due to the use of modular trailers brought in for use on site. This is essential given the facility’s pivotal role in the Mendocino County Department of Public Health’s operations.

"It’s basically the center of our whole public health system," Pinches said, describing a full range of services from WIC to vaccinations and other programs.

Luckily, flooding at the Mendocino County Public Health facility on Dora Ave. may not be adversely affecting mental health operations. While there are mental health staffers who have been displaced, "front-line" personnel who work directly with clients have been kept in place to avoid disruption of services. Also, Pinches points out that mental health patients are still coping with the loss of Mendocino County’s 24-hour crisis center, commonly called a PUFF unit.

Next week’s meeting of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Tuesday Morning. Items on the agenda include the deletion of one fulltime sheriff’s lieutenant from the county budget, as well as the second quarter mid-year budget report.