#Vermont: Bennington Select Board establishes Oral Health Commission (via @banner_news)

15 Sep

oral-health-smile

The Select Board on Monday voted to establish an Oral Health Commission, which will act in an advisory capacity to the board.

The board will appoint members to the six-person commission with a limit on any person serving more than two three-year terms. Eventually, all of the seats’ terms will be three years, but at first, two will be three years, two will be two years, and two will be one year. Commission members must be Bennington residents, and those interested can submit letters of interest to the town manager’s office no later than noon on Sept. 21. Board Chairman Thomas Jacobs said that one seat will be held by a dentist, and that if only three people the board felt were qualified applied, then they would only appoint those three. “We’re not going to fill it just to fill it,” he said.

Jacobs said at the first reading of the proposal, at the board’s Aug. 24 meeting, that “A couple months ago, folks came forward and asked that there be consideration from the board for the establishment of a committee, designated by the board of selectors, to address what is understood to be an important, and difficult, and serious oral health issue in our community. Jacobs said his initial idea was to create a subcommittee of the select board, made up of Donald Campbell, Michael Keane, and himself, that would address the issue. However, he said, that committee would have been nothing more than a continuation of the select board, when the goal was to have a “group of citizens that have recognition by the select board to undertake an advisory capacity to recommend to the selectors ways to deal with what is a serious health issue.

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Jacobs said that the commission will be reviewed in three years, and, if it is not found to be accomplishing the goals set forward, it could be decommissioned. The select board currently has not dedicated any funding to the commission, although Jacobs said that funding requests would be dealt with as they were made.

The commission is not related to the Bennington Oral Health Coalition, the group that led the fight to fluoridate Bennington’s water earlier this year, and Jacobs made it clear that, while members of both that group and the Bennington Citizens Against Fluoridated Water who opposed them can apply for positions on the commissions as individuals, they will not be allowed to serve as representatives of those groups.

When Justin Corcoran said that he was concerned that the commission could become yet another push for water fluoridation, which he said the a vast majority in the community did not want, Jacobs responded, “My understanding is that the issue is much broader than fluoridation.” He said that it would be up to the select board to make sure that one side of that debate or the other didn’t have too much influence on the commission. Corcoran was also concerned that the select board could fund the commission without a public vote.

Mary-Lou Albert, a member of the Citizens Against Fluoridated Water, spoke at both the Aug 24. and Sept. 14 meetings. “The board shouldn’t be involved in health issues,” she argued, “the hospital should. The board should be involved in roads, and police, and water and sewer, and all that, not health issues.”

“I respectfully disagree with you,” said Jacobs, “Oral health goes a long way towards the economic health of this community. Don’t just say that this board is in charge of roads and making sure the water’s running, it’s a broader responsibility that we have, and this board doesn’t take that role lightly.”

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.

Source: http://www.benningtonbanner.com/localnews/ci_28818372/bennington-select-board-establishes-oral-health-commission

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