Welcome to the Louisiana Environmental Health Association

History

In 1947, Louisiana Association of Sanitarians (LAS) was formed through the efforts of Dr. Ben Freedman, H. Luther Hortman, Floyd M. Miller, Graves J. (Tiny) Grant, A.G. Owens, and Matt Bulliung. Later helpers were Thomas Oates, John Fulco, John Reimer, Andrew Fontenot, J.G. Higgs, John Siedler, E.J. Sylvester, Joseph Earl Newman, Opha Trapp, Charles H. Gillham, and Osborne Willis.

The year was 1948, the Louisiana Association of Sanitarians is formed as an affiliate of the National Association of Sanitarians. Graves J. “Tiny” Grant is elected our FIRST President. The primary goal of LAS was to improve the professional status and education of sanitarians.

In 1949, Joseph E. Newman is elected as our SECOND President. The National Association of Sanitarians adopts its first Code of Ethics.

Our THIRD President, A.J. Owens, is elected in 1950. The NAS Executive Committee is created by the NAS By-laws change.

The year was 1951 and Floyd M. Miller is our FOURTH President.

Our FIFTH President was Fred R. Bass in 1952.

In 1953, Lloyd H. Methe is elected as our SIXTH President.

The year was 1954 and John G. Higgs is our SEVENTH President. Act 371 of 1954, known as the Louisiana Sanitarian Licensing Law, was passed by the Louisiana Legislature, providing for the professional licensing of sanitarians, creating the Nation’s fifth Sanitarian Registration Act. This act was to take effect in 1955. Those whose efforts succeeded in getting the Louisiana Sanitarian Licensing Law passed by the legislature were Graves J. (Tiny) Grant, A.G. Owens, Lloyd Methe, Floyd Miller, Luther Hortman, and Dr. Ben Freedman. Racial segregation in public schools was unanimously ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. NEHA holds its national conference in New Orleans, where Floyd M. Miller of Shreveport, LAS President in 1951, assumes the presidency of the National Association of Sanitarians. A rift exists between factions in LAS. One faction supported the professional licensing of Sanitarians and the requirement of a college degree and the other did not. This rift eventually resulted in the separation of a number of Sanitarians to form the Louisiana Association of Professional Sanitarians, part of a multi-state group headquartered in Oklahoma. Membership in LAS declined for several years. Eventually, the rift disappeared mainly because the Sanitarians Licensing Law required incoming Sanitarians to have a college degree and apply for a license. Supporters for licensing and a college degree became the majority and the opposing faction disappeared after several years.

Our EIGHTH President, Andrew P. Fontenot, is elected in 1955.

The year was 1956 and A. M. Bulliung is our NINTH President.

In 1957, Jack J. Moisant is our TENTH President. Hurricane Audrey hits Cameron Parish, killing over 500 people. Tremendous effort was put forth by Sanitarians and engineers in the area of drinking water, wastewater treatment, management of livestock, and solid waste disposal.

Our ELEVENTH President is Charles H. Triche, elected in 1958.

The year was 1959 and Peter A. Weier, Jr. is our TWELFTH President.

In 1960, Charles H. Gillham is our THIRTEENTH President.

The year was 1961 and Otto Bolin is our FOURTEENTH President.

Our FIFTEENTH president, in 1962, is W.F. Strickland.

The year was 1963 and R.J. LaFleur is our SIXTEENTH President.

In 1964, Jefferson T. Tessier is elected as our SEVENTEENTH President.

The year was 1965 and Dudley J Simmerly is our EIGHTEENTH President.

Our NINETEENTH President was Elmer L. Dunnehoo in 1966. Elmer repeated as our TWENTIETH and TWENTY-FIRST President for 1967 and 1968.

The year was 1969 and Kenneth L. Copes is our TWENTY-SECOND President. Dr. Ben Freedman wins the Walter S. Mangold Award at the NEHA Annual Conference.

In 1970, A.M. Bulliung, who was our NINTH President, repeated as our TWENTY-THIRD President. The NAS changed its name to the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA). The LAS also voted in 1970 to change its name to the Louisiana Environmental Health Association (LEHA), and began accepting non-sanitarian professional environmental health practitioners into its ranks. However, these non-sanitarians were accepted at that time as non-voting associate members only.

Our TWENTY-FOURTH President was Walter P. Morse, Jr. in 1971.

In 1972, Robert McMullen is our TWENTY-FIFTH President. Robert repeated in 1973, serving as our TWENTY-SIXTH President. Lead poisoning prevention programs are started in Orleans Parish. Charles Gillham of Lake Charles, LAS Past-president (1960), assumes the presidency of NEHA.

Our TWENTY-SEVENTH President is James J. Balsamo, Jr. in 1974. The Tri-Parish tumor registry is established for Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Bernard parishes.

Horace J. Thibodaux is our TWENTY-EIGHTH President in 1975.

The year was 1976 and Frank L. Dautriel is our TWENTY-NINTH President.

Dr. Victor Monsour is our THIRTIETH President in 1977. Margaret Soulie (now Margaret Becnel) became the first woman to serve on LEHA’s Board of Directors. The Scholarship Fund Award was instituted as well as the Student Paper Award and the Outstanding Sanitarian Award. With the assistance of Thomas Schexnayder, an attorney and LEHA member, LEHA became incorporated on May 16 under the laws of the state as a non-profit corporation.

In 1978, Stephen W. Lam is our THIRTY-FIRST President. The LEHA President’s Award (gavel plaque), the Certificate of Merit Award and the Presidential Citation Award are originated. H.B. 1396 and H.B. 1257 were proposed to splinter the environmental health programs away from the Department of Health and Human Resources, Office of Health Services and Environmental Quality. Both bills were overwhelmingly defeated with assistance by several resolutions sponsored by LEHA.

Our THIRTY-SECOND President is William Barlow in 1979. Martha Scott and Claude Lewis became the first African-Americans to serve on LEHA’s Board of Directors. Act 449 of 1979 was passed by the legislature which transferred certain environmental health programs under DHHR to the Department of Natural Resources' Office of Environmental Affairs effective January 1, 1980.

The year was 1980 and just like a bad penny Elmer L. Dunnehoo appears again as our THIRTY-THIRD President. Lead poisoning programs are extended throughout Louisiana.

In 1981 and B.J. McConathy is our THIRTY-FOURTH President. Charles H. Gillham, LEHA and NEHA Past President, wins the Walter F. Snyder Award at the NEHA Annual Conference. This year is recognized as the start of the AIDS epidemic in Louisiana.

The year was 1982 and Stephen W. Lam serves again as our THIRTY-FIFTH President, having served as our THIRTY-FIRST President in 1978. LEHA hosts the NEHA’s AEC in New Orleans in June or July. President Steve Lam who formed a special committee to discuss accepting non-sanitarian environmental health professionals into the association as active, voting members to increase the association’s overall membership. The committee met in August 1982 in Lafayette and later recommended to the Board that it propose such acceptance to the full membership at LEHA’s 1983 AEC.

The year was 1983 and Clifton Murphy is our THIRTY-SIXTH president. The LEHA active membership, i.e., sanitarians only at the time, voted to accept the change in the LEHA Constitution so as to begin accepting non-sanitarian environmental health professionals as active, voting members. This change then opened the doors for all environmental professionals to join an organization which could speak as one unified voice for its members. Act 97 of 1983 was passed by the legislature which created the Department of Environmental Quality effective February 1, 1984.

The year was 1984 and James J. Balsamo, Jr. serves again as our THIRTY-SEVENTH President, having served as our TWENTY-SEVENTH President in 1974. The Outstanding Professional Environmentalist Award is instituted as an equivalent award to the existing Outstanding Registered Sanitarian Award but its purpose is to especially honor the contributions of non-sanitarian environmental health professionals.

The year was 1985 and Ben Potier is our THIRTY-EIGHTH President.

The year was 1986 and Patricia (Pat) Bedenbaugh is our THIRTY-NINTH and first woman President. The Outstanding Professional Environmentalist Award is renamed the Outstanding Environmental Professional Award.

The year was 1987 and Walter Hulon is our FORTIETH President.

The year was 1988 and Dr. A.J. England is our FORTY-FIRST President.

The year was 1989 and Sidney G. Becnel is our FORTY-SECOND President.

The year was 1990 and Dr. James H. Brent is our FORTY-THIRD President.

The year was 1991 and Austin Arabie is our FORTY-FOURTH President.

The year was 1992 and Paul Miller is our FORTY-FIFTH President.

The year was 1993 and Peter A. Romanowsky is our FORTY-SIXTH President.

The year was 1994 and Thomas H. Patterson is our FORTY-SEVENTH President.

The year was 1995 and Tim Knight is our FORTY-EIGHTH President. Bogalusa experiences a nitrogen tetroxide release.

The year was 1996 and Jodi G. Miller is our FORTY-NINTH President. The Red Tide is in Louisiana waters. Most significant for this year are the passings of Dr. Ben Freedman, M.D., M.P.H. on November 14, 1996 and Frank L. Dautriel on September 2, 1996. Dr. Freedman was author of the “Sanitarians Handbook”, a internationally-recognized pioneer Sanitarian, and recipient of countless awards in his field. Frank Dautriel served as President of LEHA in 1976 and Treasurer from 1977-94. No other name appears as prominently in the Association’s records than does the name of Frank L. Dautriel.

The year is 1997 and Roger Gingles is our FIFTIETH President.

The year is 1998 and Claude Lewis is our FIFTY-FIRST President.

The year is 1999 and Sharon G. Parker is our FIFTY-SECOND President. The West Nile virus is detected in New York City.

The year is 2000 and Michael Vince is our FIFTY-THIRD President.

The year is 2001 and Joan Adams is our FIFTY-FOURTH President. This was the year of the September Eleventh terrorist attacks on the New York City World Trade Center Twin Towers and on the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Heroic Americans brought down a third plane in the fields pf Pennsylvania, preventing a third attack. Jim Balsamo is elected as the NEHA Second Vice-President and is on track to being NEHA President in 2004. Jim also receives the Davis Calvin Wagner Award from the American Academy of Sanitarians this year.

The year is 2002 and Ed Flynn is our FIFTY-FIFTH President. Louisiana is hit hard by Tropical Storm Isidore and Hurricane Lili late in the hurricane season. Louisiana’s three year drought finally ends. The state has its first large outbreak of West Nile encephalitis.

The year is 2003 and Marian Aguillard is our FIFTY-SIXTH President. There is war against terrorism in Iraq and the US captures long time Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein. NEHA publishes “Messages in the Dust: What are the Lessons of the Environmental Health Response to the Terrorist Attacks of September 11?” The norovirus caused illnesses aboard cruise ships and disrupted cruise travel.

The year is 2004 and Walter G. Pichon III is our FIFTY-SEVENTH President. Roger Federer from Switzerland was the US Open Tennis men’s single champion and Svetlana Kuznetsovz was the women’s single champion. On Christmas Eve 2004, a rare snowstorm event took place in southeast and southwest Louisiana. 2.1 inches of snow was recorded in Lake Charles and .7 inches was recorded in New Orleans.

The year is 2005 and Robert E. Freeman is our FIFTY-EIGHTH President. On the twenty-ninth day of August 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, causing widespread damage within 25 southern and southeastern parishes. Hurricane Katrina was the costliest ($86 billion in damages) and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. It was the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the third-strongest hurricane on record that made landfall in the United States. On September 26, 2005, Hurricane Rita made landfall between Sabine Pass, Texas and Johnsons Bayou, Louisiana, causing widespread damages within 19 parishes totaling $11.94 billion in damages.

The year is 2006 and because of the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Fall of 2005, and tremendous amount of work by the Board being performed in the aftermath of this devastation, Robert E. Freeman is asked by the Board to remain as the FIFTY-NINTH President. The entire LEHA Board remained in place and all LEHA work was halted.

The year is 2007 and Steve Aguillard is our SIXTIETH President. On April 5, 2007, a one-day LEHA Conference is held signifying a semblance of normality back to Louisiana. On a sad note, 1998 LEHA President Claude Lewis passes away on August 17, 2007. And on October 9, 2007, Louisiana elects a new Governor, Bobby Jindal. The election resulted in the first candidate of Indian descent being elected to a state governorship in the history of the nation, 36-year-old Congressman Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner.

The year is 2008 and James Miller is our SIXTY-FIRST President. The LEHA Board works together to develop an outstanding conference program entitled, “It’s Easy to be Green”. Bobby Jindal takes over as Governor of the state of Louisiana. The United States goes into a recession. Governor Jindal released the following statement following the Revenue Estimating Conference’s meeting that adopted a $341 million revenue shortfall for the current-year state budget and a revised revenue estimate that creates a projected $2 billion shortfall for Fiscal Year 2010.