History of the Board of Health

The Geauga County Health District was established in 1919/1920 under the Hughes - Griswold Act, a direct response to the influenza epidemic (pandemic) of 1918/9 in which more than one-half million people died in the United States and more than 20 million worldwide. Read more about the 1918/9 Great Pandemic here. Prior to its adoption, municipalities were responsible for their own health programs, meaning that nearly 2,150 health departments existed in Ohio. Most departments had little medical training or public health knowledge. Since the formation of public health agencies, the life expectancy of Americans has increased dramatically through the prevention of diseases through safe food and water supplies, sanitation, nutrition, vaccines, and antibiotics. These are the services and educational programs that are delivered through your local and county health departments in Ohio.

The Geauga County Board of Health held its first meeting on January 7, 1920. The Board of Health members included: Mr. J. O. Scott of Thompson, Mr. Peter Small of Chester, Mr. Hugh O. Bostwick of Chardon, Dr. J. A. Heeley of Parkman, and Dr. T. F. Myler, President, of Burton. At the first meeting a budget of $4,400 was adopted. On January 21, 1920, Dr. T. F. Myler was elected the first Health Commissioner on a part-time basis. Mr. Hugh Bostwick was elected President and Dr. Myler's position was filled by Mr. Frank Griffin of Middlefield.

The first public health nurse, Ms. Allyn, was hired in December 1920. The first clerk was hired sometime in 1922/3. The Health Commissioner became a full-time position in September 1923. The Health Commissioner at the time was Dr. G. L. Lyne, who had succeeded Dr. Myler in December 1922.

The Board hired Mr. C. S. Helling as the first Geauga County Sanitary Engineer. Mr Helling began work on August 19, 1946.

Geauga County Health Commissioners

1920 - 1922
Dr. T. F. Myler (part-time)
1923 - 1925
Dr. G. L. Lyne (part-time, became full-time)
1925 - 1950
Dr. W. C. Corey (full and part-time, Lake County Health Commissioner as well)
1950 - 1960
Dr. W. P. Edmunds
1960 - 1962
Dr. W. C. Hartland
1962 - 1964
Dr. James L. Kocour
1964 - 1974
Dr. B. M. Keller
1974 - 1978
Mr. Terry E. Hull
1979 - 1980
Mr. Frank Kellog
1980 - 1986
Ms. Jane Manyo-Mahoney, RN, MSN
1987 - 1991
Mr. Herbert Shubick, RS, MS
1991 - 1992
Mr. Fredrick A. Wood, DVM
1993 - 1999
Ms. Susan Negron, RN, MS
1999 - date
Mr. Robert K. Weisdack, RS, MA, MPH

Geauga County Interim Health Commissioners

June - September 1925
Mr. W. C. Reese, Superintendent of County Schools
November 1963 - June 1964
Mr. Carl Dill, Sanitarian
February - September 1974
Ms. Ruth Baptie, Secretary
* September - December 1980
Ms. Sarah Eiermann, RN, Director of Nursing
* November 1981 - February 1982
Ms. Sarah Eiermann, RN, Director of Nursing
September - December 1983
Ms. Sarah Eiermann, RN, Director of Nursing
December 1986 - October 1987
Ms. Sarah Eiermann, RN, Director of Nursing
August - December 1992
Ms. Sherri Culver, Gortz Managment Firm

* due to Health Commissioner maternity leave

The first published regulation was adopted on July 11, 1944 outlined permits and inspections of farms that fed garbage to hogs. It included fees to cover the cost of issuing permits and performing the inspections. These regulations were revised into the first sanitary regulations enforced in the county in 1948. The regulation dealt with water wells, privies, sewage disposal, garbage disposal, dead animal and manure disposal.

Some other significant dates in the history of the Health District include:

The Health District was initially funded by the County Commissioners through inside millage. Over the early years of the Health District, the County Commissioners passed the cost on to the Township Trustees. Some State and Federal grants helped defray costs, but the scope of the health needs widened rapidly. As a result the Board of Health sought their first Health Levy in 1956. The five year one-quarter mill levy passed in the November election by a vote of 9,054 in favor, 5,261 opposed (63%).

The County Archives and Recorders Office provided us with a copy of the 1942 Inventory of the County Archive of Ohio portions that pertained to the Geauga County Health District. These records were the result of the Ohio Historical Records Survey Project. You can read these sections of the inventory here.