BISBEE — In the continuation of funding support for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program and the breastfeeding peer counselor program, Cochise Health and Social Services (CHSS) was provided a total of $686,224 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In the Cochise County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Ann English and Peggy Judd approved the funding which supports 12 CHSS employee positions and helps around 10,000 people annually.

According to Judy Gilligan, CHSS Prevention Services director, “The overall goal of all USDA WIC program is to improve the health status of eligible participants through adoption of healthy behavioral lifestyle changes and to help prevent the occurrence of health problems. It includes income–eligible women, infants, and children and provides income eligible families with nutrition education and referrals to social services within the county.”

“WIC provides food vouchers to clients for a variety of nutritionally healthy staple foods, including milk, eggs, juice, fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs, beans and peanut butter.”

The breastfeeding program provides counseling and support services that complement the WIC–provided breastfeeding education by allowing for additional, more in-depth education by a peer counselor trained through a breastfeeding curriculum, she added.

“The goal is to increase the incidence and duration of breastfeeding for all breastfeeding women in Cochise County,” she said.

Greg McQuaide, CHSS emergency preparedness, received approval for the continuation of the cooperative agreement between Arizona Department of Health Services and the county. A $63,001 grant for the next fiscal year will help him provide certain services in regard to the Smoke Free Arizona program.

The funding helps pay for inspections, complaint reports on compliance with smoking and educational tools to stop smoking, he said.

Thanks to a $3,000 grant from the Legacy Foundation approved by the supervisors, participants in the GRACe program will receive additional help in obtaining driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and other identifications which many do not have.

Civil Deputy County Attorney Britt Hansen explained to the supervisors the program diverts people charged with mostly nuisance offenses who have been diagnosed as seriously mentally ill out of the criminal justice system and into the mental health system. The identifications are necessary to apply for jobs or benefits.

County Administrator Ed Gilligan gave his last update to the supervisors in the meeting. He said the court consolidation agreement which will go into effect on January 1, 2021, with Sierra Vista had been submitted to the city manager Chuck Potucek and a decision should be made at one of the up-coming mayor and city council meetings.

He reported there was a problem with the new contractor set to take over the medical position at the jails.

Dr. Carol Hippenmeyer, internal medicine and emergency medical specialist, who was just contracted to provide services to the jails and county health clinics on Aug. 18, has been unable to acquire medical malpractice insurance as required, Gilligan said. It may be due to COVID-19 concerns.

He has already contacted others who can provide the service and already have the insurance in place.

Gilligan is not the only executive the county is losing. He announced CHSS Director Carrie Langley will also be leaving Aug. 31, but provided no details.

“She has provided several years of extraordinary service to the county and we extend our best wishes to her. She has been a remarkable asset,” said Gilligan.

Speaking of remarkable assets, Judd and English both agreed Gilligan’s seven years of service has also been a boon to the county.

“You were a godsend,” said Judd. “I was grateful to have you from Day 1. I know it’s not just the board who will miss you.”

English presented Gilligan with a plaque for his service to the county and a coveted Cochise County copper mug and one of the few remaining county pins emblazoned with Chief Cochise.

English said, “You gave a lot of time and effort to make the county better. Just six months into your employment, I heard what a terrific man you are. I knew we would not be able to keep you because we couldn’t pay you what you are worth. We knew you’d be offered better jobs. We were lucky to have you.”

English also said the choice of the next county administrator would be made in the next three weeks.

The candidates are all county employees. They are Daniel Coxworth, community development director, Joe Casey, internet technology director, and Richard Karwaczka, public defender.