The search for a new director for the Davis County Health Department is continuing and board members may interview candidates in March.

But the response to the opening has not been as great as the health board hoped, according to board member Joy Erickson, chairwoman of the search committee.Former director Dr. Enrico Leopardi retired at the end of December but left the post several weeks before that, taking his unused vacation and other leave.

Mary Meredith, the department's nursing director, was named acting director by the board until the position is filled.

The board is looking for a candidate with a medical degree and advanced degree in public health, with strong administrative skills, Erickson said. But she said persons with those skills are hard to find and are earning more money than the county can pay.

The director's job pays between $50,000 and $60,000 annually, depending on background and skill levels.

A medical degree is necessary because the department director examines and treats prisoners in the county jail, prescribes medicine for them and occasionally writes prescriptions for low-income clients at the department's clinics.

The board has contracted with another physician to offer those services until a new director is hired.

Leopardi resigned once last May, then rescinded his resignation, saying he was pressured into quitting by the county commissioners over a sexual harassment lawsuit. The commissioners deny the allegation.

That suit, filed by former county employee Julie Parker, says Leopardi harassed her when she was an employee in the health department.

County officials are fighting the suit, refusing to settle out of court, and deputy county attorney Jerry Hess has stated he intends to take it to trial in federal court.

After rescinding his resignation, Leopardi resumed his duties as head of the health department but later last year announced he would retire on Dec. 31.