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The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) has awarded Humboldt County Health & Human Services Director Phillip R. Crandall the prestigious Circle of Service Award. It was presented Thursday at the Professional Building in Eureka.
The Circle of Service Award is given by CSAC to recognize county officials, staff and affiliated members whose service to California counties and the CSAC membership has been “substantially above and beyond the norm,” according to a letter to Crandall announcing the award.
“We only present a handful of these each year,” said CSAC Legislative Representative Farrah McDaid Ting, who presented the award—“and I mean a handful.” She said it had been an honor to work with Crandall, whom she described as one of the association’s “go-to resources, whose insight and contributions have been invaluable.”
Crandall began his career in 1984 at what was then the Humboldt County Mental Health Department. He was named deputy Mental Health director in 1998, and Social Services director a year and a half later. He worked to integrate a number of different departments into a single integrated agency, and was named director of the new Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) in 2000.
In early 2015, he announced he would retire at the end of the year. His last day will be Dec. 28.
Eureka City Councilwoman Melinda Ciarabellini, who was on hand for the award presentation, said, “Filling Phil’s shoes is going to be quite a job for whoever his successor is going to be.” The 30-year Sheriff’s Office employee said it was always a pleasure to work with Crandall. “His willingness to try innovative ways of solving problems is genuinely unique. He was always willing to take calculated risks.”
Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass echoed Ciarabellini’s remarks. “I feel fortunate to have been able to work with Phil,” she said. “It’s not just what he’s done locally. He’s an innovator who helps other counties achieve their goals.”
Crandall was also acknowledged for his efforts to address homelessness by participating in rapid rehousing programs, and to expand access to behavioral health services to those in geographically remote areas of the county.
Behavioral Health Board Chair Tim Ash noted that DHHS is often held up as a model for systems transformation in both rural and urban counties across the country. “The resulting changes have allowed the provision of more and better services and have improved the lives of many of our friends and neighbors,” Ash said.
Councilwoman Ciarabellini added of Crandall, an avid fisherman, “I hope we can keep the spirit going, even though he’ll be out fishing.”
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