Burton leaves strong legacy

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Bing Burton has directed the Denton County Health Department for more than two decades, but he’s also been an effective teacher, helping people learn how to protect their families from numerous health threats.

Through the years, he has issued statements and press releases offering guidance filled with common-sense and no-nonsense tips for guarding against illnesses ranging from flu to mosquito-borne diseases.

Burton is scheduled to retire today, marking the end of a 22-year tenure that has seen a sharp rise in county population and innovation.

Denton County has grown from an estimated 291,602 residents in 1992 when Burton started with the county to approximately 691,000 as of last year. With the growth has come increasing demand for services and steady department growth to respond. The health department had about 30 employees when Burton started; now there are about 130.

Denton County Judge Mary Horn said there is little doubt that Denton County residents are healthier today because of Burton’s efforts.

Burton came to the county after working for the state at the public health Region III office in Arlington for 18 years. Before that, the San Angelo native spent four years in the Air Force.

Looking back on his tenure, Burton said there is not really anything left that he wanted to do, that most of the things he wanted to see happen have happened.

Burton said the health department did not provide primary care when he arrived, but eventually managed to get doctors on staff and added a Lewisville office. That office and other innovations were attained through grants, including primary care grants and immunization grants that enabled the office to expand without putting all the costs on county taxpayers.

Along the way, Burton said, the county has provided many valuable resources like the new administrative complex on Loop 288.

Burton praised county leadership and throughout many departments, including the budget office, purchasing, auditing and information technology, for helping him run his office smoothly.

Burton said one of his prouder achievements is technically not a health department innovation. Twelve years ago, he wrote a grant proposal for funding to begin a new clinic that became People’s Clinic, separate from the health department. People’s Clinic later became associated with Health Services of North Texas as a federally qualified health center.

“I always felt Denton County needed one, and I was happy to play a small role in that happening,” he said. “I think Denton County has been good to me, and I hope I have provided some important services to Denton County.”

We believe Burton has made many valuable contributions to the county and that area residents have benefited as a result.

Thanks to his advocacy and hard work, Denton County and its people are better equipped to face health challenges today and in the future.


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