County health chief retires
April 9, 2010
The long-serving County Courthouse official who ran the health department said he plans to retire this month. Steve Jenkins worked for Summit County for more than 40 years.
"Our job is keeping people well," Jenkins said.
Jenkins was director of the Summit County Health Department for the past 26 years. When he started in 1969 he was the only public health employee in Summit County. Homes in Summit Park were beginning to sprout and county officials were concerned about problems with septic tanks in the Snyderville Basin, Jenkins said Wednesday.
"There was a fairly good failure rate for septic tanks up there," Jenkins said.
Jenkins said one of his most memorable experiences as health director was working with the Rainbow Family of Living Light, which held a massive gathering in the Uinta Mountains east of Kamas in 2003.
"We tried to keep people out of the emergency rooms so it didn’t impact the communities," Jenkins said.
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The gathering drew thousands of people from across the United States who camped in Summit County for several nights.
"Our job was to make sure nobody had any problems up there," said Jenkins, who is 65 years old.
Areas that have hosted Rainbow gatherings since then have turned to Summit County for advice, he said.
"We handled it better than anyone else did," Jenkins said.
Jenkins also worked closely with 2002 Winter Olympic organizers on planning for the Games.
"We had a whole communicable disease surveillance program set up," he said. "We were monitoring that every day."
In the 1980s, Jenkins replaced former health director Frank Singleton. Singleton was a controversial figure in Summit County, Jenkins recalled.
"[Singleton] thrived on controversy," Jenkins said.
Jenkins said he has accepted a position as environmental health director for the Southwestern Health Department in St. George. A search is underway in Summit County for his replacement.