KALISPELL — The Flathead City-County Board of Health decided unanimously on Wednesday that Joe Russell will serve as the county's new health officer.
Russell – who will replace interim public health officer Tamalee Robinson -- will begin his official duties on Monday.
All eight members of the board thanked Robinson for filling in as health director and welcomed Russell back to the position he previously held from 1998 to 2017.
He joined the Department as a Registered Sanitarian in 1987, was promoted to the environmental health Division Director in 1990, and Deputy Health Officer in 1997.
Russell earned a BA, Biology with a minor in Chemistry at Carroll College, and later earned a Master of Public Health at the University of Washington.
Additionally, for more than ten years, he has been an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Tennessee and Louisiana State University.
Officials say they are looking forward to the future with Russell's leadership of the health department.
“I’d call on our community to support Joe as he takes on this difficult position and what's in the middle of a pandemic and that people would respect his decisions,” commented Flathead City-County Health Board member Peter Heyboer.
“Well, it's been it's been a journey, but I'm really glad that we have come to this point in this journey and that Joe will be stepping in,” added fellow board member Ronalee Skees.
“I think the health department is really going to need his leadership...and he's been through H1N1 which will be very helpful,” Robinson states.
Robinson will continue her duties until Russell officially takes over at the health department.