NORTH STAR– Jason Menchhofer, who lives near here with recently wed wife Kelly, was named the health commissioner in neighboring Mercer County on the first day of this year.
He graduated from the Indiana Wesleyan University Master of Public Health program on Dec.8, 2021, after he began the program in September 2019.
“Beginning in May of 2019, I was the administrator of the Mercer County Health District under part-time Health Commissioner Tim Barman, DVM of Fort Recovery,” Menchhofer said. “This arrangement was put into place after our previous full-time health commissioner left to pursue other opportunities. As administrator, I was performing the day-to-day functions of a health commissioner under the guidance of Dr. Barman until I completed my master’s degree, which qualifies me to hold the position of health commissioner.”
Menchhofer has been with the Mercer County Health District since June 2015.
“My first position there was sanitarian/accreditation coordinator,” he said. “I worked in several environmental health programs, including household sewage treatment systems, private water systems, and environmental health nuisance complaints. Before that, I was the Environmental Health Director at the Van Wert County Health Department for 13 years. I began my public health career spending four years as a sanitarian at the Auglaize County Health Department. I have a total of just over 23 years experience in local public health.”
Menchhofer, who earned his bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Hazardous Materials Management from the University of Findlay in 1996, said he wanted to find relevant work that would allow him to live in or near his hometown of Celina.
“This led me to my first health department job in the environmental health division at the Auglaize County Health Department,” he said. “It was a good fit for me, because I liked the mix of office work and field work. Every day was different. Over time, my interest in leadership grew to the point that I felt prepared to step into the administrator role when given the opportunity. I really value the opportunity to influence the culture of the health department and the development of the 17 staff members who work there.”
He does admit that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for him.
“I have never experienced anything like it before,” he said. “We have planned and practiced in numerous exercises over the years, but nothing prepared us for the sheer magnitude of the public health response to the pandemic. As administrator and now health commissioner, it is my job to lead the response.
Through a lot of 2020, our entire staff worked many more hours than we were accustomed to working.
We had to maintain knowledge of the ever-changing information about how to minimize the impacts of COVID-19 and constantly share that information with our community. We were also kept very busy with case investigation and contact tracing during the various surges of COVID-19 activity in our community. In January 2021, our primary focus shifted to providing COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone in our community who wanted to be vaccinated. We held approximately 2025 drive-thru vaccination clinics at the Mercer County Fairgrounds in 2021, along with numerous smaller clinics in the Mercer County Central Services Building where our office is located. Today, we are turning much of our attention back toward normal population health activities while still managing changing information and requirements associated with the latest surge in COVID-19 activity.”
Born to Warren and Roseann Menchhofer 46 years ago on Aug. 1, he graduated from Celina Senior High School in 1993; from the University of Findlay with a bachelor of science degree in Environmental and Hazardous Materials Management with a chemistry emphasis in December 1996; and earned his master’s from Indiana Wesleyan University this past December.
He and wife Kelly knew of each other from attending the same cooperative group of Lutheran Churches beginning around 2005.
“We got to know each other in 2017 when we had the occasion to discuss some common professional interests,” he recalled. “Our relationship grew from there, and we became engaged on Christmas Eve in 2020 and we married on Sept. 25, 2021, in Portland, Ind.”
Their children are Mason Evers, Kelsey Evers, Megan Menchhofer, Carissa Evers, Claire Evers, Emma Menchhofer, and Kendall Evers, listed from oldest to youngest. Their grandchildren are Deckard Upp and Hendrix Hedgecoth.
Menchhofer belongs to the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners, Ohio Environmental Health Association, Ohio Onsite Wastewater Association, Sons of the American Legion Post 353 in Ansonia, and the National Rifle Association.
“I love to fish, hunt, shoot, garden, and process and preserve my own food,” he said. “I am looking forward to spending more time on these activities now that college classes and hopefully the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic are behind me. I am also a lifelong fan of the Cleveland Browns.”