Chris Hutcheson, BS, REHS, received the Environmental Health Specialist of the Year Award during the 2022 GPHA Annual Meeting and Conference on Jekyll Island. The Environmental Health Specialist of the Year Award is an Environmental Health Section Award to recognize outstanding achievement and service in the field of Environmental Health.
Hutcheson was born and raised in Smyrna, Georgia. After earning his Bachelor of Science in Biology from Georgia State University, he soon began his career with Cobb Public Health as an Environmental Health Specialist in 1995. He quickly progressed to the position of EH Supervisor, earned his Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS) credentials from the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), and has served as the Center for Environmental Health Director at Cobb & Douglas Public Health since July 2009.
Hutcheson has a wealth of knowledge which has served him – and the agency – well as he runs one of the largest Environmental Health programs in the state. He often serves as a reminder to staff to base regulatory decisions on the Rules themselves – as well as available policies – instead of basing actions on opinions/assumptions. For example, when presented with a question regarding regulatory enforcement/implementation, he is known for responding with the words, “Let’s see what the regulations say.”
He keeps his skills current in onsite waste management, food service assessments, and swimming pool operation & instruction. With fluctuating staff and Environmental Health demands, he is known for putting his knowledge and skills into action where needed to assist with the workload. (He is often the sole environmentalist covering swimming pool construction in Cobb County.) His role as an instructor and proctor for both the Certified Pool Operators course as well as the Food Safety Management course presented to area operators and staff h been invaluable.
Hutcheson has led with calmness and confidence throughout the COVID pandemic, giving guidance to not only staff but to the public as well, presenting the frequently changing Executive Orders and Environmental Health Program Guidance in a way lay persons could understand, and in turn, follow. He did all of this while facilitating the development and use of an online payment portal in response to an identified need of the Program. (He is very comfortable with computer technology). Even more, his sense of humor helps to provide a sense of levity to a range of situations that arise.
Hutcheson has also been able to display his skills as a handy-man and entertainment provider at his home – sharing with his wife Kathleen, children, and a canine with an unforgettable presence (Thor, the Rottweiler).