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Oct. 31, 2011

DHEC commissioner receives national award

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) honored Commissioner C. Earl Hunter with its Presidential Meritorious Service Award at its recent annual meeting in Portland, Ore., the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.

"Earl has selflessly served the people of South Carolina, the nation and our organization," said ASTHO President and commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health John Auerbach. "For three decades, he has been a steady champion for both health and environmental causes."

Hunter first joined DHEC in 1980 and served in various capacities until the DHEC Board appointed him as commissioner in August 2001. Since that time, he has overseen day-to-day operations including the direction of the agency's overall strategy, staffing, budgeting and planning. He recently announced his retirement, effective Feb. 1, 2012. A nationwide search is underway to find his replacement.

"Earl's tireless efforts have produced improvements in the state's infant mortality rate, the vital records program, redevelopment of brownfields, expansion of HIV testing, cancer prevention and more," Auerbach said. "He leaves behind a legacy worthy of this honor."

Hunter is nationally recognized and respected for his efforts at the state level, and in December 2010, was elected Secretary-Treasurer of the ASTHO, an organization made up of the chief public health officials of each of the nation's states, territories and the District of Columbia. He previously served on the ASTHO board and chaired a workgroup on issues surrounding environmental health.

During his tenure as DHEC commissioner, Hunter has overseen the agency during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the corresponding development of a public health preparedness program; a massive train derailment and chlorine spill in Graniteville, S.C.; mass immunization efforts, and numerous other emergency response situations.

His tenure has also seen a steady overall decrease in the state's infant mortality rate; an overhaul of the state's vital records program to decrease wait times for birth and death certificates; updating and streamlining of the state's Certificate of Need program; the development of the Shoreline Change Advisory Committee and the Blue Ribbon Committee on Coastal Issues; an update of the state's Demonstration of Need regulation to better address the issue of landfills and waste capacity in the state and the creation of an expedited permit review program.


For more information:
Jim Beasley – (803) 898-7769
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