KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Department of Health has a new leader following the retirement of longtime senior director Dr. Martha Buchanan.

Kevin Parton, who served as interim senior director after the retirement of Dr. Martha Buchanan earlier this year, has been named senior director of the Knox County Health Department, Knox County officials announced Monday.

Parton, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from Liberty University, had also served as chief administrative officer and executive director of finance within Knox County’s government. Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs expressed confidence in Parton in a news release Monday.

“The Health Department is a vital piece of Knox County Government,” Jacobs said. “Kevin has been an asset throughout his tenure, and I know he will do a great job in this new role.”

The news release from Knox County also shared that Parton had worked as a controller for The LETCO Group, an accounting manager for Aqua Clear Water Systems, and as senior accountant for Altar’d State. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Rocky Hill Baseball.

The search for a Public Health Officer, a role also fulfilled by the now-retired Dr. Buchanan, is ongoing. County officials say that in the interim, Dr. Warren Sayre is under contract and working closely with county staff.

Dr. Buchanan joined the health department in 2004, working as an assistant public health officer before being promoted to the role of public health officer in 2006. She then took on the role of director in 2010.

In addition to her leadership role at the health department, Buchanan led the Knox County Board of Health through the onset of the coronavirus pandemic when countywide alcohol curfews and business capacity regulations were instituted.

The Knox County Commission voted to strip the Knox County Board of Health of its regulating powers in March of 2021, relegating the board to an advisory role.