Let’s Hear From YouMarch 27, 2018
New Fairfield Holds First Meeting of Newly Formed School Safety and Security CommitteeApril 6, 2018
As we move forward with our municipal budget proposal, it is important to understand the many services made available to you or carried out on your behalf. One example is the New Fairfield’s Department of Health. Located in the lower level of Town Hall and headed by Tim Simpkins, the Department has multiple responsibilities to protect the health and environment of the town, derived both from state statute as well as local ordinances. The Department includes Mr. Simpkins, a Sanitarian, an Administrator, and a part-time septic walk-over technician.
Among the many responsibilities carried out by the Department of Health are:
- Facilitating the testing of ticks for disease. The Department will send a tick (if still fully engorged) to the Connecticut Agricultural Experimentation Station to test for Lyme Disease, or other tick-borne disease if suspected;
- Making sure that communicable diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases, occurring in Town are reported as required by statute and followed up;
- Sponsoring health-related events such as the annual flu shot clinic held in cooperation with the Visiting Nurse Association;
- Licensing and inspecting food service establishments in New Fairfield, in accordance with the new Connecticut food safety statute which goes into effect January 2019;
- Regulating septic tanks by approving new ones and walking over existing septic tanks to ensure their integrity. The Department also regulates the frequency of septic pump-outs, sending out reminders and following up. The rate of septic failures has gone from 4 percent to 1 percent because of this program. The program has allowed New Fairfield to avoid the expense of centralized sewage treatment in residential areas while protecting groundwater and the quality of Candlewood Lake, Ball Pond, and other bodies of water in New Fairfield;
- Sampling the water quality in the vicinity of the Drop Off Center on a quarterly basis and sampling the water quality for the schools and water municipal system in the center of town on regular basis. The Health Department is slso a resource for owners of private wells that may be experiencing difficulties;
- Enforcing New Fairfield’s erosion control, wetlands protection, flood control, and other environmental ordinances. As New Fairfield’s environmental enforcement officer, Mr. Simpkins works with the Inland Wetlands Conservation Commission to review proposals for new construction and takes action against those in violation of an ordinance;
- Monitoring the water quality at New Fairfield’s seven public beaches for coliform and the Town Beach for the cyanobacteria in blue-green algae. On the latter, The Department works closely with Western Connecticut State University and the Candlewood Lake Authority on a state-of-the-art test that provides test results in 24 hours, lessening the time the Beach may be closed. (Water quality at Squantz Pond is tested by the State DEEP);
- Working with neighboring communities on Community Health Improvement Plans (CHIP). Mr. Simpkins notes that “New Fairfield is a pretty healthy community, compared to others;” and
- Assisting with emergency preparedness. Following 9/11, the federal Centers for Disease Control pushed towns, hospitals and first responders to work together. Mr. Simpkins meets with regional groups on a monthly basis to make plans for responding to disasters, whether natural, disease, or terror-related. “We are planning, drilling, and exercising constantly,” said Mr. Simpkins. While time-consuming, this effort means that New Fairfield has built relationships in the area and will be able to easily reach out to neighboring communities for mutual aid when required.
The Health Department is located on the lower level of Town Hall and can be reached at 203-312-5640 or by filling out an electronic form at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd8LhRC-63l0LhjeWrIScMI5NJJJzMjyIwgZTwJxDDBTEiLOw/viewform. The offices of the Health Department and Land Use Departments are undergoing construction to make them more user-oriented and repair damage. They are, however, open during normal business hours 8:30-5:00 Monday – Thursday and 8:30-12:00 Friday.
– Khris Hall, New Fairfield Selectman