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Saugus health agent to leave post

SAUGUS-Health Agent Sharon McCabe called it a day Friday after nearly five years with the town’s Health Department.”It’s time to do something different,” said McCabe, who is not just leaving her post, but the state as well.”I’m going back to school,” she said. “I’m getting out of politics completely.”After what she simply characterized as a difficult year, McCabe said she is burned out and headed south to Florida. There, she said she plans to retrain in the field of death and diseases.”Public Health is not well funded,” she said with a laugh. “I’ll go into the more medical field of death and disease because the funding’s there.”McCabe said she thinks Public Health is notoriously under funded because most people simply don’t know what the department does. During her tenure, McCabe was responsible for environmental and public health concerns as well as inspections and investigations of places that ran the gamut from food establishments and tanning salons to swimming pools and animal keepers.She also was responsible for checking on the mobile home parks, motels, body art practitioners, trash and septic haulers and massage therapists. Other activities included tobacco control, issuance of burial permits, emergency preparedness, lead paint determinations, noise complaints and housing inspection.”People don’t realize that we’re also a clearinghouse for everything,” she said.All that will now be taken up by Frank Giacalone, who will take over for McCabe.Giacalone has a step up in that, as a former food inspector, he is already familiar with the town.”I think Frank and I built a strong department,” McCabe said. “That’s why I’m thrilled he’s back because he knows the lay of the land.”As for the land, McCabe said she will miss New England. Having grown up in the northeast, she said she is looking forward to the warm winters, but will no doubt miss the change of seasons here.”But I still have family in the area,” she added.McCabe also said she is proud of what she is leaving behind, particularly in the aspect of customer service.”Customer service is huge,” she said. “It’s probably what I’m most proud of.”As Director of Public Health, McCabe said generally no one was ever happy to see her coming because it meant there was an enforcement issue.”But I think nine out of 10 people I had to give enforcement letters to thanked me in the end,” she said. “We were firm but courteous and they knew they could ask us questions and use us as an educational tool as well.”Giacalone said previously that he hoped to carry on that educational function of the department.”I’ve made some lasting friendships,” McCabe said summing up her tenure with the town. “I don’t want to get (schmaltzy) . . . it’s just time for a change.”

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