Public health in Delaware County IN looks for a new leader

Health administrator Josh Williams heads to Colorado

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) -  During his tenure, Josh Williams made the Delaware County Board of Health more self sufficient, guided public health protectors to a new home and kept programs like food safety and smoking cessation in the minds of the public.

Williams recently resigned to take a public health job in Colorado after working 11 years in Indiana in similar jobs. On Tuesday, he was still trying to convince county government approve state funding of the county's smoking cessation program.

One Delaware County council member Ron Quakenbush even said afterwards that he did not think funding the stop smoking campaign really works. The county still receives state money to educate and promote anti-smoking programs.

William's successor is already being sought by health officer Donna Wilkins and Judy Harris, president of the county board of health, with a new leader likely this summer.

That public health administrator will have less than $1 million available yearly to maintain public health standards, handle food and environmental inspections and offer other education and awareness public health issues. 

Williams was able to keep the health department running by increasing fees and charges for public health services.

As county tax revenues declined, other revenue from fees or grants was found to continue to provide public health services.

While the county has not suffered a pandemic or other environmental health disaster, William said the health department maintained an emergency plan to deal with those threats. 

The smoking cessation effort, paid by the state, offers education and awareness of health threat of smoking cigarettes besides the billions spent by the tobacco industry to fight smoking bans and smoking cessation.

Delaware County had among the first public smoking bans in the state, and continues to expand that prohibition. Ball State also banned smoking on campus recently.

And the department's food inspection program has been successful shutting down restaurants and food outlets that fail public health standards. One of the biggest cases involved the longstanding QL's Barbeque where rancid meat and unsanitary conditions were found.