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Third new member appointed to the Elkhart County Board of Health

Paul Shetler Fast joined the Elkhart County Board of Health on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
Photo provided
Paul Shetler Fast joined the Elkhart County Board of Health on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Three out of four vacancies on the Elkhart County Board of Health have now been filled. That’s after the County Commissioners appointed Paul Shetler Fast to the board Tuesday.

Shetler Fast is currently the global health coordinator for the Mennonite Central Committee, a religious relief aid and peace agency. According to a release from the health department, he supports public health programming and serves as the “technical lead” during public health crises.

“As both a scholar and servant-leader in public health, Paul brings a depth of knowledge and hands-on experience to the Board,” board of health chair Josi DeHaven said in the release. “His practical perspective serving marginalized populations both locally and internationally is valuable to our mission and the health of the communities we serve.”

Shetler Fast currently holds a master’s degree in public health and will complete his doctorate of public health in 2024. He also serves as an affiliate faculty of public health at Goshen College.

“I am passionate about public health being rooted in and responsive to the community,” Shetler Fast said in the release. “Public health is what we as a community decide to do together to improve our health. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve my community in this way.”

Shetler Fast’s appointment comes after four of the board’s seven members announced their resignations late last year, along with County Health Officer Dr. Bethany Wait.

The slew of stepdowns followed a controversial County Council decision to deny the health department’s application for a grant to hire community health workers.

The commissioners previously appointed Goshen Fire Chief Danny Sink and oncologist Dr. Houman Vaghefi to fill two of those vacancies.

Dr. Richard Hostetter, a retired oncologist, stepped in as interim health officer at the beginning of the year. Melanie Sizemore, the health department’s public information officer, will fill the newly-created role of health administrator.

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Gemma DiCarlo came to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.