STEUBENVILLE - Energy, youth and a long-term commitment convinced the five Steubenville Board of Health members to select Shaleeta A. Smith as the new health commissioner.
Domenick Mucci, mayor and health board president, introduced the 24-year-old Smith during a press conference Friday at City Hall after she formally met the health department staff she will supervise starting Monday.
"Patty Reda will be missed now that she has retired, but we will move forward," noted Mucci.
MEET?THE?COMMISSIONER — Shaleeta A. Smith of Wintersville listened to Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci introduce her as the new city health commissioner Friday morning. — Dave Gossett
Reda retired last month after a 21-year career as commissioner.
Smith said she was a cheerleader at Indian Creek Local High School and currently participates in competitive cheering for the Pittsburgh Stars.
"My mom is so excited that I am coming home to live, and my dad has always been my biggest cheerleader," according to Smith.
Smith was one of 28 applicants for the health commissioner position.
Mucci said the final two candidates for the job "were extremely qualified. The board had a lot to consider when they made their final decision."
Smith has a master's degree in public health, epidemiology from the University of Toledo. She also received a bachelor of science degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from the University of Toledo.
"As a recent graduate student from the University of Toledo, I have learned how to apply the knowledge I have obtained through my studies and inquiries to disease states, pathologies and health promotion in real work settings and situations," Smith told the health board during the search for a new health commissioner.
"It is good to come back to my home and to make a difference in the community. I know I have very big shoes to fill. I learned in college to listen to people. I am the new person on the team. Listening and talking to people is very important and involving the staff in decisions is a huge consideration," Smith said.
"I want to do community outreach. I know Zumba is big in this area and there are a number of programs in the community. I have thought about blocking off a street for Zumba classes to see if there is interest. I know the annual Greek Festival is very popular so maybe we can bring people downtown for Zumba," said Smith.
Smith said she was not in favor of a proposed combination of the city and Jefferson County health departments.
"The biggest fear of many people will be not enough services for everyone. I know the city is large enough to need its own health department and to offer all of the services they do," added Smith.
"There is a perception of some that the same services are offered by both health departments. Both departments serve a role in their respective areas. We do collaboration with county health. And I have talked to Jefferson County Health Department Administrator Bruce Misselwitz regarding the potential combination. If we would take that route it would take at least 18 months to complete. I can tell you we will look at how we can provide better services for community," Mucci stated.
"The health department will meet some challenges but I can assure you my office, the city manager and the city council will give our full support to the health department," said Mucci.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for Shaleeta and the city. I get the sense we are looking at a strong director," remarked City Manager Tim Boland.