Shirley WALKER Shares One of Paducah’s Best Kept Secrets!
When a public institution seeks the guidance of local board members, what are they looking for? Someone with knowledge of the area and its constituents? Someone with experience in a related field? Someone with mature judgment and reasonable input? In the case of the Paducah-McCracken County Health Department, they were looking for someone like Shirley Walker.
Shirley has been a member of the Health Department’s board for almost 15 years now as a consumer representative. She brings to the group a varied background, the elements of which range from her work with the Paducah Chamber of Commerce as the director’s executive secretary, to her long-term financial experience during her 26 years with Citizens Bank and Trust, to her most recent responsibilities at Milner & Orr Funeral Home as a Pre-Need Counselor and Licensed Funeral Director.
“I assisted Ron Davenport, the Health Department’s former administrator, and the department with its investments during my years at Citizens Bank,” Shirley explains. “In 1990, when he inquired if I would be interested in serving on the board, I submitted an application and it was approved on the state level.” Shirley’s been serving as a board member ever since.
Board members attend quarterly meetings where health concerns and issues are discussed and financial matters are reviewed, along with topics like improvements to facilities, which is of distinct concern all around the Purchase Area. “Since tax dollars are involved, the board feels a great deal of responsibility where spending is concerned,” Shirley adds. “As a board member, I’m very pleased that the tax rate has been in place and unchanged for approximately 20 plus years.”
Shirley sees the role of the county Health Department as a vital one with regard to public health and safety. After all, it’s the very community she’s been a part of for more than a quarter century and one she has great affection for.
“The Health Department was very active most recently in preparing and inspecting a shelter, along with several other agencies, for the Katrina/Rita evacuees, even though the need did not arise. We were pleased that we were prepared and ready to embrace an endeavor such as that national crisis,” Shirley adds.
Although Shirley contends that many of the Department’s myriad programs and services are crucial to the region’s corporate health, she believes much of what the comprehensive organization offers is still a well kept secret. “We must continue to make strides in spreading the word about the wonderful wide-spread work the agency provides, particularly with regard to teen sexuality issues as well as no-smoking campaigns.”
The Department has been pervasive in its approach to instilling a no-smoking philosophy among area youth. Most visible have been scores of billboards (pictured above) around the community showcasing individual representatives of city and county schools speaking out about being smoke-free!
“I was very gratified with our resolution to write letters to local schools about our concerns for vending machines on site and our request for them to look at more healthy ways to provide snacks for students,” Shirley recalls. “The board has also been in favor of the smoking ban in public places that Dr. Shawn Jones has been working on.”
Concern for the health and safety of the community at large is only one of many civic endeavors Shirley gives her time to. She is also active in the River City Business & Professional Women, Paducah Breakfast Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce, United Way and is an active member of Immanuel Baptist Church. She also serves on the boards for McAuley, Mercy and Dublin Manor (senior housing affiliated with Lourdes Hospital), and Paducah Bank.
“I am very proud of the accomplishments of Paducah Bank, and most pleased with the investments they make not only on behalf of their customers, but on behalf of their community neighbors,” Shirley comments. “No other financial institution in this city and county puts more money or energy into the matters that lie at the heart of Paducah’s future success.”