County food safety inspections, water records online

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — County officials announced earlier this week that food safety inspections and onsite water protection records and applications are now available online.

Health officials said Tuesday during the monthly meeting of the Richmond County Health and Human Services Advisory Board that at no cost, anyone with Internet access can visit www.richmondnc.com. To access the water records, follow these steps:

* Click on Departments
* Click on Health
* Click on Environmental Health
* Click on Important links
* Click on Onsite water protection records and applications

Onsite water protection records and applications are now available online at www.richmondnc.com

Onsite water protection records and applications are now available online at www.richmondnc.com

That last step will take the computer user to an external website managed by Custom Data Processing. By punching in a parcel number, an address or city, the desired record is available in a printer-friendly format. The system is live, said Bryan Hancock, of the Richmond County Health Department’s environmental health division. When inspectors are on site, the records are scanned into the system within a few minutes’ time. Some documents are processed directly online, sans paper.

Tommy Jarrell, health director, said it’s part of a long-term goal to reduce the amount of paper and subsequent waste within the division and, ultimately, the entire department.

“In the past, we had so much paperwork,” Jarrell said. “We ordered paper by the truckload.”

Jarrell said the work began with the environmental health section because “that was a total paper-operated system. Everything we did in environmental health involved paper. We didn’t have anything on a computer, virtually.”

Repair and inspection records are public documents, and are now available online in a printer-friendly format beginning at www.richmondnc.com.

Repair and inspection records are public documents, and are now available online in a printer-friendly format beginning at www.richmondnc.com.

The lack of efficiency put the division in the bull’s eye.

“We put a goal on ourself (that) by the end of 2015, we wanted environmental health to be a virtually paperless operation,” Jarrell said. “We’re not there yet, but we’ve made tremendous strides.”

The new online system improves efficiency not only within the section but interacting with the public as well. In the past, Jarrell said, people had to come in to ask for documents that were public but not easy to distribute. That’s no longer the case. Someone from Derby, Norman or the outskirts of Ellerbe, Hamlet or Cordova no longer need to travel to downtown Rockingham for a copy unless they want to.

“Everything we do here is live,” said Bryan Hancock. “If we do something today and you look five minutes later, it’ll be on there.”

And that’s not all. Jarrell said that within about a year, “we want it so that if people want to put in a septic tank or temporary food permit, they can apply online and maybe not have to drive down to Rockingham. We can cut out the paperwork on that.”

Jarrell said he’s hopeful that can be accomplished as part of a larger project of overhauling the county website.

During the presentation, Hancock used properties owned by County Commissioner Thad Ussery, board chairman, and Commissioner Kenneth Robinette. Online inspection records show the last 10 inspections.

Hancock said records going back to 1985 are now online. Previous record cards dating back to the 1940s are online as well, except for the years during World War II.

While the records are available, accessing them could prove frustrating for some users. That’s because if one searches, for example, for 123 Smith Street, the person who typed in the data could have typed 123 Smith St. — and the abbreviation would cause the record not to appear because of the difference, even though the record is available.

“Search it in different ways,” Hancock suggested. “Everything was manually entered. If a keystroke was missed or if there was a misspelling … we’re correcting them as we find them.”

Jarrell said the availability could be helpful, for example, when a family wants to put in a swimming pool. If the family is not the original occupant of the home, the location of a septic tank or drain lines might not be known. The records also show repairs made over the years.

Jarrell said the program was created for the Richmond County and the Appalachian District health departments, and both agencies received it for about $2,000 each. Now that the software has been largely debugged, the vendor can sell it to other jurisdictions for a much higher price.

Food inspections

Food safety is important, and access to food safety inspections is now only as far away as a few clicks of the mouse.

Food safety is important, and access to food safety inspections is now only as far away as a few clicks of the mouse.

In the days when traditional print newspapers purchased ink by the barrel without weighing each barrel to ensure the barrel wasn’t short an ounce or two, papers regularly published the results of food safety inspections of local restaurants. That’s often not the case.

Now, however, Richmond County residents have the results of the last 10 inspections at each facility at their fingertips.

To access the records, visit www.richmondnc.com and follow these steps:

* Click on Departments
* Click on Health
* Click on Environmental Health
* Click on the “grade card” image

That last click will take the computer user to the same CDP website as the water records, except in this case the user is taken directly to the food safety inspection section. The database can be searched alphabetically or by tying in the name of the establishment.

For each facility, the last 10 inspections are available. Along with an overall grade — both letter and number — “you can actually read what was typed on the grade sheet” by the inspector, Hancock said.

“We just try to explain it and let them know what’s going on,” Hancock said of the inspector’s approach to each inspection. “This is just straight from our inspections. Anything we do will be here: daycares, swimming pools, tattoo parlors … Everything we do is public record. Now it’s right there at your fingertips. We’re just making it easier. When we go out and do an inspection, it’s not even on paper anymore. If we need a copy, we go here to retrieve it.”

Clicking on the link of one restaurant along Highway Business 74 of an inspection completed on July 29 drew a few gasps of concern from the nearly 20 people in attendance. It was probably because of Violation Item 36:

“Observed 4 live cockroaches in kitchen area. One beind piza oven, one behind fryers, one in dry storage room, and one in front of walk-in cooler. Also numerous dead found on floors. Pest control operator just applied pesticide 7-25-14.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filed in: Business, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News

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