Wayne LeBaron has seen everything in public health services in the central Rocky Mountain states during the past 35 years. "There's never been one day the same," he declares.

LeBaron has waged health battles against encephalitis and tularemia, spent hours testing wild animals and household pets for rabies, and witnessed the state's only a case of leprosy.He has retired after directing and developing programs that made the fledgling Central Health Department a well-functioning entity with new facilities that serve more than 50,000 people in south-central Utah.

"My wife says she will have twice as much husband and half as much money, and she is scared," LeBaron joked. His successor as department director is Robert Resendes of Fall River, Mass.

So varied has been LeBaron's work with the health department that operates separately from, but with the sanction of, the state, that he recalled as an example telephone conversation with the then director of the state's center for disease control.

"Anything unusual that happens does so in your district, but we haven't yet had a case of leprosy in the state," he was told. "And two months later we had one in our district!" LeBaron said.

Trying to serve the public and the board of health and to satisfy state agencies has been the toughest part of his job, LeBaron concludes. He noted that officials in the six-county area decided in 1972 that they wanted a health department. "Each agreed to participate financially, and it was called the Central Utah Health Department."

Some funding was obtained from the state health department and the Department of Environmental Quality. Fees have added to the needed revenue in a program aimed mostly at prevention rather than cure.

Organizing a health department independent from the state department has saved Utah taxpayers money, the retiring director said.

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"It's been wild but good," LeBaron said.

The department operates under the direction of a 13-member board of health, composed of residents who live in Sanpete, Sevier, Millard, Juab, Wayne and Piute counties, six of whom are county commissioners. It is headquartered in a new building of its own in Richfield.

A cyanide spill in Millard county, the floods of 1983 and 1984, the fear of horses with encephalitis spreading the disease to the human population and tuleremia and rabies testing of wild animals stand out as some of the most vivid memories during LeBaron's 18 years.

"The department has grown and matured through the years, the staff is superb and I would stake it up against any in the state," LeBaron said.

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