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Higman takes over Health Department

Former Environmental Health Director Keith Higman was recently appointed health services director, the position that oversees the entire Island County Health Department.  - Paul Boring/Whidbey News-Times
Former Environmental Health Director Keith Higman was recently appointed health services director, the position that oversees the entire Island County Health Department.
— image credit: Paul Boring/Whidbey News-Times

It’s official on Friday

Keith Higman has spent the last 14 years under the county’s employ building relationships and setting precedents with ongoing, state-lauded projects. In hindsight, he was also attaining the skills needed to achieve the Health Department’s top position.

The Board of Island County Commissioners appointed Higman acting Health Services Director April 7. He will begin his permanent tenure Friday.

After cutting his teeth for a decade as environmental health director, Higman was ready to climb the final rung of the ladder. He replaces Tim McDonald, who recently accepted a position with the Snohomish Health District after 27 years overseeing the handful of sections that operate under the umbrella of the Health Department.

Higman, 45, began his county career in the Planning Department, but it was his work as environmental health specialist that placed him in a position to implement the department’s Drinking Water Program.

“We’re renowned for what we know about water resources and how we handle the management of those resources for the protection of the public’s health,” the new director said.

McDonald made a calculated decision in 2000 when Higman agreed to reenter the classroom and obtain his master’s degree in Public Health.

“When I look back, I really think that Tim’s decision was made with succession in mind,” the longtime county employee said. “I worked and earned the degree simultaneously. We also had a couple of kids and built a house. It was a very busy time.”

Higman used the continuing education to augment his base of knowledge. Stepping into the new position, he has 10 years experience learning to manage people and environmental health programs.

“I’ve always been a good communicator,” he said. “I enjoy people. The staff here are very supportive and I think they’re excited about the future. I don’t pass judgment and I operate with an open door policy. That’s how I’ve always been.”

As for changes, Higman is of the “why fix it if it ain’t broke” mentality.

“We have a lot of qualified professionals here,” he said. “Change for the sake of change doesn’t work. What I’m committed to is increasing the level of communication.”

The new position will entail overseeing the section directors, tackling budget and policy development, managing personnel issues and working with the Island County Board of Health and Board of County Commissioners.

“I don’t think any of this will be foreign to me,” Higman said. “I’m very excited for the new challenges.”

He will make an annual salary of $83,274 in his new position.

It’s official

on Friday

Keith Higman has spent the last 14 years under the county’s employ building relationships and setting precedents with ongoing, state-lauded projects. In hindsight, he was also attaining the skills needed to achieve the Health Department’s top position.

The Board of Island County Commissioners appointed Higman acting Health Services Director April 7. He will begin his permanent tenure Friday.

After cutting his teeth for a decade as environmental health director, Higman was ready to climb the final rung of the ladder. He replaces Tim McDonald, who recently accepted a position with the Snohomish Health District after 27 years overseeing the handful of sections that operate under the umbrella of the Health Department.

Higman, 45, began his county career in the Planning Department, but it was his work as environmental health specialist that placed him in a position to implement the department’s Drinking Water Program.

“We’re renowned for what we know about water resources and how we handle the management of those resources for the protection of the public’s health,” the new director said.

McDonald made a calculated decision in 2000 when Higman agreed to reenter the classroom and obtain his master’s degree in Public Health.

“When I look back, I really think that Tim’s decision was made with succession in mind,” the longtime county employee said. “I worked and earned the degree simultaneously. We also had a couple of kids and built a house. It was a very busy time.”

Higman used the continuing education to augment his base of knowledge. Stepping into the new position, he has 10 years experience learning to manage people and environmental health programs.

“I’ve always been a good communicator,” he said. “I enjoy people. The staff here are very supportive and I think they’re excited about the future. I don’t pass judgment and I operate with an open door policy. That’s how I’ve always been.”

As for changes, Higman is of the “why fix it if it ain’t broke” mentality.

“We have a lot of qualified professionals here,” he said. “Change for the sake of change doesn’t work. What I’m committed to is increasing the level of communication.”

The new position will entail overseeing the section directors, tackling budget and policy development, managing personnel issues and working with the Island County Board of Health and Board of County Commissioners.

“I don’t think any of this will be foreign to me,” Higman said. “I’m very excited for the new challenges.”

He will make an annual salary of $83,274 in his new position.

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