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Jeffers set to be appointed Kane Health Department director

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 2:33 p.m. CST

GENEVA – Kane County soon might remove the interim tag from Barb Jeffers' title and make her the permanent executive director of the Kane County Health Department.

Wednesday, the Kane County Board's Executive Committee recommended the full County Board approve a recommendation from Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen to cement Jeffers in the post.

Jeffers has served as interim director of the Health Department since June, when former Kane County Health Department Executive Director Paul Kuehnert resigned to take a job at a philanthropic organization in New Jersey.

Jeffers has worked in Kane's Health Department for about eight years, most recently serving as assistant director for administration within the department, before taking the job as interim executive director.

Jeffers would earn an annual salary of $109,386, according to documents submitted by Lauzen to the Executive Committee. Jeffers' nomination for the post will go to the County Board for approval at its next meeting, on Feb. 13.

Jeffers took the post amid a turbulent time for the department. Much of the difficulties have stemmed from the controversy-plagued animal control department, an agency overseen by the Health Department.

County officials have worked at addressing administration problems at the animal control department since 2011, when former Animal Control Director Mary Lawrie resigned amid complaints from some in the public about the department's processes.

Since then, the county has struggled to find a director candidate willing to take the job and stay in the post.

Jeffers was selected by former Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay to temporarily replace Kuehnert, as McConnaughay said last spring that she wanted to leave it to the next board chairman and County Board to select a permanent replacement.

Jeffers' name recently was inserted into a controversy surrounding a move by Lauzen to install Robert Sauceda, of South Elgin, a man Lauzen has publicly identified as a friend and a political supporter, into the animal control director's post.

The County Board rebuffed that appointment, and Lauzen since has indicated he could give Sauceda a temporary contract to act as a billing manager within animal control. Lauzen has defended his actions, in part, by insisting that the recommendation to hire Sauceda came from Jeffers.

Jeffers said she still believes that the animal control department needs to "get its billing in order," and she confirmed the intent to hire a temporary billing manager.

She said hiring an animal control director remains one of her top priorities. She said she is accepting applications for the job, and expects to recommend a candidate to Lauzen.

Jeffers said the public should not expect any major changes in policy at the Health Department, as she said the department will "continue our mission" of promoting health in the county by maintaining healthy drinking water and combating infectious disease, among others.

"Public health is a passion for me," Jeffers said.

County Board members lauded Jeffers' efforts, to date, as head of the Health Department.

"Barb came out of the comfort zone of what she had been accustomed to for many years," County Board member Melisa Taylor, R-Sugar Grove, said. "She has far exceeded the job requirements."

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