Health officals meet - hear public comment

Dr. Travis Riddell and most of the Teton District Board of Health, in person and over Zoom, discuss the agenda at the November board meeting Tuesday morning. The board appointed Riddell to another four years as district health officer.

The Teton District Board of Health on Tuesday reappointed Dr. Travis Riddell for another four-year term as district health officer. The board also appointed Deputy Health Officer Dr. Martin Trott to serve four years after he stepped in this summer to replace the former deputy.

Both positions are set to be approved by the Teton County Board of County Commissioners at its next meeting Dec. 7.

The appointment of Riddell’s position has historically been a quiet affair, and despite the current spotlight on public health departments the process remained similarly lackluster this year. Riddell was the only community member to submit his CV and a letter of interest for the role, and Trott was also in a camp of his own, making the board’s decision fairly straightforward.

“I’ve enjoyed being in this position for the last eight years,” Riddell said Tuesday. “It has been challenging at times but always rewarding. I feel that it’s an important part of my opportunity to contribute to this community. And I look forward to continuing to do so.”

The board members had no follow-up questions for the physician; they know his background and have seen him respond to the pandemic for the past 18 months.

During public comment, community members called for a more public forum with the health officer, and Shelby Sharpe, who has been disheartened by the Teton County Health Department response to COVID-19, said she wished the board was tougher on Dr. Riddell.

Sharpe was the only commenter to show up in person. Three others weighed in on Zoom, where about 20 people tuned in.

Jessica Vandenbroeke implored the Health Department to pause COVID vaccinations of 5- to 11-year-olds because of safety concerns, and Elisa San Souci asked the department for more clarity on testing protocol. Sharpe also questioned the department’s COVID-19 metrics, saying health officials chose the wrong matrix.

Board Chairman Dan Forman then opened the floor back up for board discussion, but there was none. Members unanimously voted to approve Riddell for his third four-year term.

On Tuesday the board also celebrated its newest member, water specialist Stephanie Brennan, who was selected and appointed by county commissioners on Monday. She will replace Ingrid Krasnow, who is stepping down to respond to some health issues.

“I’m proud to have served alongside such a thoughtful group of public health experts for the last eight years and am grateful for the department’s tireless dedication to protecting our community’s well-being,” Krasnow told the News&Guide after the meeting.

The board chairman and Teton County Health Director Jodie Pond commended Krasnow for her service.

In addition to Brennan, commissioners appointed current board member Dr. David Peterson for an additional four-year term. Forman said they had six well-qualified applicants for the volunteer board positions.

Contact Evan Robinson-Johnson at 732-5901 or ERJ@jhnewsandguide.com.

Evan Robinson-Johnson covers issues residents face on a daily basis, from smoky skies to housing insecurity. Originally from New England, he has settled in east Jackson and avoids crowds by rollerblading through the alleyways.

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