Emilie Conlon, Editor-in-Chief
The Sauk County Board voted to hire a new public health officer at its meeting last week, after nearly four months with the leadership position in the department vacant.
The county board unanimously approved the hiring of Treemanisha Stewart, a program manager for the state of New Jersey, with 28 supervisors present and three absent.
Stewart will be filling the position left vacant by former public health officer Tim Lawther, who left the position in October.
Administrative Coordinator Brent Miller expressed he and the hiring committee felt Stewart had a variety of experience and positive recommendations that made her right for the job.
“One thing that I really like about her is her community involvement,” said Miller. “When we did her background checks with businesses, they were exceptional. Everyone elaborated on what a team player she is, how team members really like working with her and for her and how she gets things done.”
Currently, Stewart serves as a manager for the state of New Jersey’s health and senior services department. Stewart holds a bachelor’s degree in health management from Howard University, a master’s degree in public health from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and was working towards completing a doctorate degree in public administration as of December.
Miller said Stewart is also involved in her local school board and has experience in emergency management.
Stewart was approved by state officials to serve as a public health officer in Wisconsin, and Supervisor Patricia Rego, of LaValle, announced Stewart was approved as a Level III health officer.
“She has a very positive attitude, she likes moving forward and getting things done,” said Rego, who is also the chairman of the board of health. “I think she encourages her staff to have input into things and work as a team and i think that’s going to be a very positive thing for the health department.”
According to the state department of health, to be approved as a Level III health department, the department must be able to provide at least five basic public health services to the community, which can include communicable disease surveillance, prevention and control, generalized public health nursing program, health promotion, disease prevention and human health hazard prevention and control.
The health department must also provide at least 14 programs or services that address at least seven different topics in the current state health plan.
The department must also follow environmental health guidelines. According to Miller, Stewart is certified in handling environmental health.
Stewart’s first day on the job will be Feb. 1, with a starting salary of just over $110,000. The committee responsible for hiring her included Miller, County Board Chairman Tim McCumber, two representatives from the county’s health board and Human Resources Director Kasey Hodges.
Miller announced at the meeting that the county has also begun the recruitment process for a corporation counsel, a position that has remained vacant since May 2020, when the board voted to terminate the employment of its former attorney, Daniel Olson.
The county is also searching for an assistant corporation counsel to fill a vacant position in the office, after former assistant Corporation Counsel James Witecha resigned in April.
The county has been contracting corporation counsel services from Von Brisen and Roper since June, for a monthly rate of about $17,500.
The hiring of Stewart as the public health officer and the upcoming filling of two positions in the corporation counsel office could mean the end of almost a year-long streak of turnover for the county.
The county also lost its former administrative coordinator in March to a position at the state level and its human resources director last summer to an out-of-state position. Both positions were filled in 2020.