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August 17, 2013

CHEERS AND JEERS — For Aug. 17-18

JEERS

... to the Floyd County Health Department for its petty posting of a photo on its website taken in front of a local business.

It wasn’t just any business, you see, and that’s the major problem. The photo, since removed, was of a health department vehicle in front of New Albanian Brewing Co.’s Bank Street Brewhouse.

One of NABC’s owners, Roger Baylor, has been involved in a public spat over permitting with the department and its director, Dr. Tom Harris. The legality of such permitting can — and has — been debated, but I don’t see any valid debate over who is right in the latest battle. It’s Baylor.

The health department, along with the photo, ran text under the headline “The Floyd County Health Department works to keep food safe.” It continues by noting that people get sick from foodborne illnesses, and 3,000 die per year from eating infected food. It mentions E. coli.

There are dozens and dozens of eateries in Floyd County, and yet the health department chooses this photo at this time. Look up the definition of “coincidence” in the dictionary. This is the opposite of that.

The health department shouldn’t put any Floyd County eatery in this light, unless there has been a serious problem found within, let alone a business it’s been jostling with.

I can’t say who is in the right in the permit battle. What I can say is the health department — a government-funded agency — was flat wrong when it put NABC in this light.

Harris may not like Baylor or his actions, but he has to remember he is merely the owner. There are other livelihoods at stake here, ones far removed from permits and media coverage.

Baylor, via a tort claim against the health department, wants a corrective statement or apology.

He should get it. The department should realize its wrongs and right them.

— Editor Shea Van Hoy

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