Top Awards at the TEHA Annual Educational Conference (AEC) go to Panhandle/West Texas Chapter Members

By Renee Witherspoon, RS, CSP, CIH, CHMM, TEHA Panhandle/West Texas Chapter President (2015-2016)

In May 2016, the awards committee completed nomination packages for some of the top Texas Environmental Health Association (TEHA) awards, the Ruth Hendy Award of Excellence in Food Safety that recognizes entities that achieve a high degree of professionalism and commitment to the communities they serve and, the Thomas E. Edmonson Meritorious Award that recognizes an individual for a career of outstanding service to TEHA.

On October 12 TEHA State President (2015-2016) Monty McGuffin, RS, announced the winners of the Ruth Hendy Awards, they are:

  • City of Lubbock Environmental Health. Lead applicant: Stevan Walker, REHS/RS, CPO
  • Texas Tech University Environmental Health and Safety. Lead applicant: Timmy Riojas, RS.
Stuart Walker, RS, gives acceptance speech at the Awards Banquet.

Stuart Walker, RS, Director of Code Enforcement for the City of Lubbock, gives his acceptance speech at the Awards Banquet.

On October 13 at the Annual Awards Banquet, the winner of the Thomas Edmonson award was announced.  Congratulations to Stuart Walker, RS, with the City of Lubbock, Code Enforcement. Stuart is a TEHA Chapter Past President and currently serves as TEHA State Parliamentarian.

The Panhandle/West Texas Chapter Meritorious Service awards went to Shaun May, REHS/RS, with the City of Amarillo, Environmental Health Department and Stevan Walker, REHS/RS, CPO, with the City of Lubbock, Environmental Health Department.

Stevan Walker also found out that he had won the election to the TEHA State Governing Council for a 3-year term.

Congratulations to all of these outstanding Chapter members and their organizations that support them in their efforts.  You represent the finest examples of professional excellence in Environmental Health and service to TEHA.

A big thanks goes out to our Chapter Award Committee members: Leslie Morgan, RS, City of Lubbock, Parks and Recreation; Anthony Spanel, RS, City of Amarillo Environmental Health, and Stevan Walker, REHS/RS, CPO, City of Lubbock Environmental Health.

Barry Stephens speaks on Backflow Prevention at Lunch and Learn

On Thursday, September 22, 2016 Barry Stephens with the City of Lubbock Water Utilities

Barry Stephens with the City of Lubbock Water Utilities Dept. speaks on Backflow Prevention at the Lunch and Learn event at TTUHSC

Barry Stephens with the City of Lubbock Water Utilities Dept. speaks on Backflow Prevention at the Lunch and Learn event at TTUHSC

Department spoke on How a Municipal Water System Works…or Things I really Didn’t Want to Know at a “Lunch and Learn” hosted by Renee Witherspoon, CSP, CIH, CHMM, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) Occupational Safety Manager. Renee is the Past President of ASSE South Plains Chapter and President of the Panhandle/West Texas Chapter of the Texas Environmental Health Association (TEHA).

Barry is also one of the foremost experts on the topic of Backflow Prevention and provided insight to the causes of backflow and importantly, how to prevent it.  

In his presentation he covered how the distribution system works, the definition of

Water Distribution System Schematic

Water Distribution System Schematic

backflow and that backflow can even occur inside the plumbing system of commercial businesses or residences, never leaving the property.

He also covered the regulations in 30 TAC 290 that requires all municipalities since 1996 to create and maintain a backflow prevention program AKA Cross Connection Control program.

Key regulations state:

  • An adequate internal cross-connection control program shall include an annual inspection and testing by a certified backflow prevention assembly tester on all backflow prevention assemblies used for health hazard protection.
  • And, that it will be the responsibility of the water purveyor to ensure that these requirements are met.

Since the rules requiring municipalities to have a Cross Connection Control program are not based on theory but based on actual events, Barry provided some examples of where problems have happened including a Dialysis Machine contamination incident and being Burned in the Shower when a water system was contaminated with Sodium Hydroxide.

At the conclusion of the Lunch and Learn Barry provided a demonstration of how simple atmospheric pressure can cause backflow and lead to contamination.

The Lunch and Learn was broadcast from TTUHSC’s Lubbock Campus, and was TechLinked to campuses in Abilene, Amarillo, El Paso and Odessa.  For those attendee’s requesting continuing education credit a SurveyMonkey test was provided so that they could receive 1-hour of credit. The following is that link:


Barry is the Past President of the Texas Water Utilities Association (TWUA), a TCEQ Instructor and is licensed as a Backflow Prevention Assembly Tester (BPAT) in Texas. On behalf of TTUHSC, ASSE and TEHA, thank you Barry and the City of Lubbock Water Utilities Department for coming out and providing such an excellent presentation for us.

Barry can be contacted at:

A copy of his presentation is available here: how-a-municipal-water-system-works-backflow-prevention-9-22-16

July TEHA Meeting in Austin

by Renee Witherspoon, RS, CSP, CIH, CHMM, TEHA Panhandle/West Texas Chapter President (2015-2016) and ASSE South Plains Chapter President (2011-2014)

On July 15, 2016 I will have the opportunity to attend the Texas Environmental Health Association (TEHA) State Governing Council (GC) meeting in Austin to represent the Panhandle/West Texas Chapter and it’s members.

This has been a very active year so far for TEHA.  We’ve had some excellent training programs, nominated members for awards and honors and are in the process of updating TEHA Chapter finances to QuickBooks with the help of our Chapter Treasurer and Immediate Past-President, Stevan Walker, REHS/RS, CPO.  Thank you Stevan!

I’ve placed all of my recent Chapter updates in a two-page newsletter called, TEHA Handout 7-15-16 Update  I hope you will be able to review it because talks about some of the most amazing people I know – our Chapter members!  Kudo’s also too our Chapter Leadership as they have really stepped up this year to make my turn as President very rewarding.  And I can say, challenging too.

If you’re involved in any organization like TEHA (or ASSE), you have to be a multi-tasker, being able to balance work and family with volunteer efforts.  Talk to anyone in a volunteer leadership position and they will tell you that it can take many hours to complete the requirements of that office, but it’s worth it!  It’s worth it because you know that you’re not working for yourself, you’re working to benefit the organization and its members.  And when even one person is successful in something, we all benefit, our profession benefits and we contribute to the body of knowledge for future generations to stand on.

One of the requests our TEHA Executive Director, Jodie Halter, MS, RS,  has asked the Presidents was to help find members that can write articles for the TEHA publication, The Beacon. When I spoke with TEHA Chapter member Chris Saxton, Sanitary Services Manager with the El Paso Department of Health, he said that he could write an article about the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) conference that was recently held in San Antonio.

He finished his article and it’s excellent.  He brought up some excellent points about the importance of networking and building contacts and relationships.  In that we can learn how other jurisdictions are tackling problems and then take that information back to use in our situations.

So thank you Chris for sharing your thoughts of the NEHA event, and it has been published to this site.  I am looking forward to what you’ll have to say after you return from the next NEHA event in Michigan and am glad that your organization understands the value in sending professionals to conferences so that they can continue to expand their expertise.

Lot of things are happening right now in TEHA and if you’re a member, you might feel tired or discouraged.  Think of it as a challenge, a test.  You will only lose if you quit – so don’t quit  (Phil. 4:13).  Might actually learn something about yourself, that you’re tougher and stronger than you think. Persevere and you’ll make it through, and wave at me as you’re going by because I’m right there with you.  It will turn out good (Rom. 8:28).

Now, I’m ready for my next adventure to Austin.


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