Northeast Texas Public Health officials Thursday recognized Mayor Barbara Bass with the 2014 W.T. “Doc” Ballard Award.
The award is the district’s highest accolade for outstanding service contributing to the enhancement of public health. Doc Ballard, a registered professional engineer for the Texas Department of Health and mentor to NET Health, was a leader in protecting the public’s health.
George Roberts, chief executive officer at NET Health, highlighted Mayor Bass’s dedication to advocating for healthy living, as well as her community activities, which included serving on several boards.
Roberts acknowledged the mayor’s campaign to emphasize the value of trees in the environment with the launch of the Tree Tyler Initiative. Under her leadership, the city has added more walking trails, bike trails and sidewalks to improve health and fitness of residents. The city also has established the Center for Healthy Living, a facility operated in partnership with NET Health that offers information and wellness programs for underserved communities.
Mayor Bass is noted for her support of the Fit City Challenge and Lighten Up East Texas initiatives, community-wide programs that target healthy living in East Texas.
During the first year of the Fit City Challenge she implemented the Mayor’s Fitwalk, in which she personally led monthly walks.
“Mayor Bass has served the City of Tyler with excellence,” Roberts said. “She is a woman of faith and a true champion of public health.”
The mayor praised the efforts of NET Health, as well as other partners in the Fit City Challenge.
“The Northeast Texas Public Health District has engaged the community in trying to get them to do better to take care of themselves,” she said. “We have gotten the message out. I’ve not only heard that message in Tyler, but I’ve heard it in East Texas.”
Mayor Bass said improving health across East Texas means building upon programs that have been implemented and continuing to share messages about fitness.
“The message has to be constant,” she said. “It’s all about body, mind and soul. It’s about taking care of our self so we have the strength and a good clean mind to enjoy our lives.”
This is the mayor’s third and final term serving the city.
“Being mayor has been the greatest blessing I’ve ever had,” she said. “It’s been about the people.”
Ballard, whose family was in attendance, oversaw environmental controls that were crucial to the safety of public drinking water and public food services as well as the proper disposal of wastewater and the monitoring of radiation.
“I was fortune to know Doc Ballard,” said Brenda Elrod, director of environmental health and animal control at NET Health. “He was monumental. Doc was a stickler for things to be perfect. … We appreciate the family sharing Doc with us. … He worked a lot of long days and served on a lot of boards.”
Previous W.T. “Doc” Ballard award recipients include Dr. Kirk Calhoun, president of UT Health Northeast; Dave Berry, editor at Tyler Morning Telegraph; Luther Yates, community volunteer; Susan Bennett, a retired dietitian; and Bethesda Health Clinic director, Dr. John English.