ESD and COVID–19.
By: Jack Peterson, ESD Associate Director
What an unfortunate time we have all been facing. This illness has impacted everyone including the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Services Division. ESD employees, just like everyone, were told to shelter at home as much as possible. This has been an excellent opportunity to get some things done we always wished we had time for. Inspection activities have been kept to a minimal, with the first priority, as always, responding to complaints received. We have had a couple. Every case is being worked on to close them all. Procedures are being documented and then using this for developing a training program for new hires. Our one new employee is working on getting all the required EPA training completed so that he can ultimately obtain his federal inspector credential. Existing inspectors are also working on the EPA courses they need to maintain their EPA inspector credentials. Federal credentials are needed for: Producer Establishment inspections (places that package and/or label pesticides); any bulk pesticide repackaging facility; and, for any federal related inspections the EPA may forward onto us. In addition, inspectors are still taking calls, responding to emails, and in the Yuma and Tucson offices meeting with our customers for testing or other needs.
On the licensing side of things work continues mostly as normal, although all staff has been telecommuting. The department’s IT team was able to cobble together computers and equipment to get them all set up to work at home. On a daily basis two come in first thing in the morning to sort out mail, prepare it for deposit and scanning paperwork to the appropriate person, so the work can be completed at home. They then make their deposits, do the things they cannot do from home – print and mail, and go home to log into the phone system and begin work just like they were in the office. This has worked with just some minor technical issues and small inconveniences. All of our processing continues.
Until announced otherwise, please do as much work as can be done on-line and via email. If an office visit is necessary, (testing or native plant permitting) make certain to set up an appointment, even in the Phoenix office. Walk-in customers are discouraged. There are times in the Phoenix office when only one person is present. For the outlying offices there may be no one available. Only 2 people can test at time in Phoenix and 1 in the outlying offices. So if more show up, there will be a wait. If one customer is being helped, the next customer will have to wait. Or even if someone shows up without an appointment, but another has been set, the non-appointment person will need to wait.
If you have any concerns or questions, please contact Jack Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other contact information you may find helpful:
Licensing – email@example.com or 602-542-3578
Robert Tolton, Licensing Supervisor – firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-255-3652
Jim Steelman, PCI Supervisor – email@example.com or 602-361-7321
Ernesto Lugo, IH Supervisor – firstname.lastname@example.org or 928-318-9725
Testing – Brian Kennedy (PMD) – email@example.com or 520-770-3035
Native plants – Scott Schade (ASD) – firstname.lastname@example.org or 520-628-6317