County department rates as big cheese

Environmental Health earns NACCHO national honors

KINGMAN - The National Association of County and City Health Officials will honor the Mohave County Environmental Health Division's Public Health Nuisance program as a "Model Practice" on July 12 at the association's annual conference.

Environmental Health Manager Rachel Patterson will accept the NACCHO plaque during the conference at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

The Health Nuisance program "addresses complaints made by any resident or visitor of Mohave County," Patterson said. "Public health nuisances can have detrimental effects to those in the vicinity of the condition, ranging from vector-borne diseases to infestation of rodents and insects to raw sewage exposure."

According to NACCHO, Mohave County's entry was one the submissions chosen out of a total of 127.

The division had been through years of dealing with the complaint-driven service, she said. "We get stagnant water in swimming pools, trash complaints, sewage complaints, rodent infestation and excessive animal feces complaints. Less than 10 percent of complaints end up in court as we will work with property owners to come into compliance."

However, for years there was no funding source for the process.

"It was an unfunded mandate that we had to carry out," Patterson said. "Gaining compliance is our goal, but the end result is abatement of the problem" even if it goes all the way through the court system, which takes time and money.

"Our problem was that when we followed a case all the way through court, and the court ordered us (the county) to clean up a problem, we struggled finding a way to pay for that."