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Parikh set to retire

Dallas County Health Department’s Ashvin Parikh, a native of India, has made his home in Selma for 35 years and is set to retire at the end of July. -- Desiree Taylor

Speaking to everyone in his path, Dallas County Health Department assistant area administrator Ashvin Parikh’s smile is infectious. As colleagues chuckle at his sly jokes, one sees just how much Parikh is loved and respected.

For many, those smiles will become frowns when Parikh, who’s worked with the agency for 20 years, will retire at the end of July.

A native of India, Parikh moved to Selma in 1976 from Delaware. He worked with the Dallas County Commission and Selma City Schools before taking a permanent position in public health with the health department in 1991.

“Selma has been my home for 35 years,” Parikh said. “I’ve spent half my life here and made so many friends — I cannot forget about Selma.”

Since working with the health department, Parikh has worked with three other counties: Hale, Perry and Sumter, to set up free health screenings inside their health departments.

“In Perry County, every Wednesday there’s a hypertension clinic and a diabetes clinic once a week,” Parikh said. “Sowing Seeds of Hope offers cooking classes for diabetes patients. We also have prostate cancer screenings once a year for those with no insurance in Perry, Hale and Sumter counties.”

The agency is also encouraging residents to stop smoking through a new campaign to be enacted Sept. 1.

For department office manager Elnora Robinson, who came to work at the department in the early 2000s, Parikh is someone special.

“He’s been an invaluable professional person and resource,” Robinson said. “He’s a very sincere and caring person … I’ve not found him to be phony. He’s a person you can rely on, and he’s just a wonderful person.”

After retirement, Parikh plans to travel to his home land of India with his wife of 34 years, Rita.

“We want to take care of my father-in-law … who’s 89 years old,” Parikh said. “We’ll take care of him for three to four months and then come back to the States and go to Chicago where my daughter is.”

Parikh said he will miss the people of Selma and Dallas County.  Everyone, he said, has been so nice to his family.

“Judge Johnny Jones is my mentor — I’ll miss him a lot,” Parikh said. “I thank (Dallas County) Judge Kim Ballard and (Selma) Mayor George Evans; they were really helpful to me and the health department in providing appropriation, or funding.”