Amid one of the greatest public health concerns in 100 years, a Lyon County native and longtime fixture with the local health department has been named full-time director of Pennyrile District Health Department.

Elisha Kite has been selected by the Kentucky Department of Public Health to succeed interim director Jim Tolley. She began her new role June 1, and as director the five-county department, she will be responsible for the public health agency’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Lyon, Caldwell, Crittenden, Livingston and Trigg counties.

Before taking on her new position, Kite was the director of administrative services at the district department in Eddyville since last November. She has also served as the department’s environmental health program manager since July 2002 and was the senior health environmentalist at the department from September 1997 to July 2002.

She is about to complete her 23rd year with the department.

“We have a great team of public health professionals here at the Pennyrile District Health Department, and I am excited about continuing to work more on the day-to-day operations of the health department,” Kite said.

Kite worked closely with Tolley, who was coaxed out of his 2012 retirement as head of the district health department when Charles Hiter left the position last year. With Tolley’s contract as interim director ending, Kite offers continuity for the public health agency.

She earned a bachelor of science degree in occupational safety and health with an environmental option in 1996 and a master of science degree in occupational safety and health with industrial hygiene and environmental options in 2001, both from Murray State University.

Kite said she has been prepared to be working with COVID-19 duties since applying for the director position.

“I knew when I applied that COVID-19 was going to be a part of my job duties,” she said. “Since I was already an employee and working very closely with Interim Director Jim Tolley, not many things have changed.”