Local government

County court selects Stricker as interim health department director

The Malheur County Court has selected Rebecca Stricker to be the interim health department director.

Stricker, a registered nurse, will replace former health department director Sarah Poe who recently resigned to take a job with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

“I am happy to step into this position,” said Stricker.

Stricker has worked for the health department for more than 22 years and this will be at least her fourth stint as interim director. The county court appointed her on Wednesday, May 29.

Malheur County Judge Dan Joyce said the court plans to offer Stricker the job permanently.

“She’s done it before, she knows what is going on and she has the most history in that office,” said Joyce.

Commissioner Ron Jacobs said he’s heard good things about Stricker.

“She sounds like she can step right in there. I am hoping she feels more comfortable to eventually take the position,” said Jacobs.

Meanwhile, Joyce said the county’s search for a new planning director remains active.

The county had negotiated for the job with Inga Williams, a planner for Benton County, but she declined after researching housing availability in the county.

The job has been vacant since Tatiana Burgess resigned in April to work for the city of Ontario.

Burgess was hired by the county after longtime planning director Eric Evans resigned in December. Evans left the planning director position to work for the Oregon Health Authority.

Joyce said he wants to fill the job fast.

 “We need it done now,” he said.

Joyce said the county will advertise the position until it is filled. Pay is between $5,757 and $7,252.39 a month.

Commissioner Ron Jacobs said he wants to fill the vacancy soon.

“The problem is finding someone who is qualified and we can get them to want to come here,” he said.

Commissioner Jim Mendiola said the planning director is more essential now because of a new land use law.

“With new ways they are splitting off those acres, the planning department has a lot of stuff ahead of it so it needs to be fully staffed,” said Mendiola.

Mendiola was referring to a 2023 law that permits landowners to rezone inferior agricultural land for housing.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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