Local government

Geddes resigns from top county environmental post

Malheur County Environmental Health Director Craig Geddes will step down from his post in July. (The Enterprise/FILE)

VALE – Craig Geddes, Malheur County’s environmental health director, is resigning from his post in July, capping an 11-year career at the courthouse.

Geddes, 43, said he is taking a job with the Oregon Health Authority but will remain in Ontario.

The environmental health director oversees food inspections, provides food handler training and certification, and oversees sewer system installations. The agency also manages the county’s landfill.

Geddes also spearheads any county response to disease, such as outbreaks of food-borne illnesses or major emergencies such as the Covid pandemic.

Geddes said he isn’t unhappy at his post but was presented with an opportunity he could not pass up.

“I’ve always had thoughts of moving into a state government type of thing and what made it available for me is they do not require me to move. I can work remotely,” said Geddes.

Geddes said he loved working with the community as environmental health director.

“I loved working with the restaurant operators here in the community and the septic installers. Being out in the community, I will for sure miss that,” said Geddes.

Geddes said his last day will be July 14. On Wednesday, June 8, the Malheur County Court was scheduled to accept his resignation.

“I am sure they will appoint an interim but I don’t know who that will be,” said Geddes.

In his resignation letter, Geddes urged the county court to appoint Malheur County Planning Director Eric Evans as interim environmental health director.

Dan Joyce, Malheur County judge, said the county will begin recruiting for his replacement by the end of June or early July.

Joyce said he wasn’t sure if the county would appoint an interim director.

“That’s a good question,” he said.

In his new job with OHA, Geddes said he will work within the food, pool and lodging program.

“That division oversees the work done at the local level and training for counties. It ensures the counties are doing the work they are supposed to be doing and setting policy at the state level,” said Geddes.

The new job, he said, will not be substantially different than his tasks at the county.

“We train people that are doing (food) inspections. We help make sure the counties have trained staff to do the work,” said Geddes.

Geddes said his biggest challenge as the county’s environmental health director was the Covid pandemic.

“I went from inspecting restaurants and septic’s to helping manage a major pandemic. It was something totally outside of what I had been doing,” said Geddes.

Geddes said the state job offer, made last week, proved to be timely.

“It’s a good opportunity and good for me and my family and the right thing at the right time for my family,” said Geddes.

Geddes also serves as the chairman of the Ontario School Board.

News tip? Contact Pat Caldwell, pat@malheur enterprise.com.

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