Environmental Health Chief Promises Service

County Names Harford Resident To $51,708 Job

May 21, 1991|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

Steven Witt just cut a hundred miles a day off his daily commute.

The Harford County resident will take command of Anne Arundel's environmental health programs next month.

But for the past six years he has served as the environmental health director in Southern Maryland's Charles County.

At a news conference yesterday afternoon, County Health Officer Thomas Andrews saidhe expects Witt, 44, to give the Anne Arundel County Department of Health a higher environmental profile.

Andrews said he eventually wants the county to enact and enforce its own anti-pollution laws, which would complement state and federal regulations. He wants the agency to coordinate the cleanup of environmental hazards.

Within recent weeks, inspectors from the environmental division discovered two illegal sewage lagoons on the banks of a Severn River tributary.

They also have tracked the Environmental Protection Agency's cleanup of a toxic waste dump in Brooklyn Park.

Yesterday, Andrews also charged Witt with adapting the environmental division to enforce new staterestaurant regulations and to slow the loss of health inspectors to larger metropolitan counties.

Despite these duties, Witt said his new job will be more or less the same as his old. More staff, less commute.

The environmental health division in Anne Arundel has 61 employees; the Charles County staff, about 20.

"There aren't a greatdeal of differences," said Witt, who will earn $51,708 a year. "AnneArundel County is larger. You might say it has more problems. I don't know if you'd call them problems. It certainly has larger programs."

The environmental health division is responsible for restaurant inspections, recreational water quality, rodent control and septic systems.

Witt, who has helped privatize soil testing in Charles County, said he wants to deemphasize his agency's regulatory role.

"I personally emphasize public service," he said. "I've been a public servant for 21 years, and it's in my blood. I want to send that messageto every employee."

Prior to Charles County, Witt worked as waterquality manager for the Harford County Department of Health.

Andrews selected Witt from 47 applicants, including one from as far away as Illinois, to replace Ronald Nelson, a Lake Shore resident who leftlast December after a month.

Nelson, the state's deputy secretary of the environment and the former hazardous and solid waste administrator, succeeded Singh Dillon, an Annapolis resident, who retired last summer.

Witt "has a thorough knowledge of environmental health issues and the regulations involved," Charles County Health Officer Marilyn Radke said. "And he's always tried to give the best service tothe citizens of Charles County."

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