Callaway to fill spot vacated by Warnock

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 8, 2000

Warren County Coroner L.W. “Bump” Callaway III was chosen Monday to take over as the head of Warren County and Vicksburg’s Emergency Management Agency.

In a 3-2 decision by the Warren County Board of Supervisors, Callaway was named to replace Luther Warnock Jr., who retired last month after 23 years as head of the agency.

“I want to continue on with the excellent work of Mr. Warnock,” the 53-year-old Callaway said.

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Coroner for 25 years, Callaway won his sixth term in November. State law will prohibit Callaway from holding both positions, so he will resign as coroner at the next supervisors’ meeting, he said.

Supervisors will then name someone to serve as coroner until the countywide general election on Nov. 7, when a special election will be held to fill the post.

“I intend to make my personal recommendations to the board as to who should take this important office,” Callaway said. Coroners investigate all deaths by trauma in a county and deaths of all persons not under a physician’s care.

Supervisors interviewed five applicants for the emergency management position before voting during Monday’s meeting.

District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon and District 2’s Michael Mayfield voted against Callaway’s appointment.

Selmon had asked the board to take the matter under advisement to discuss salary, which supervisors said had not been determined.

“This looks like a situation where a few board members already got together and decided who to hire and how much to pay him,” Selmon said.

Mayfield said later he voted against the “back-room politics” involved and not Callaway’s appointment.

Board President Richard George defended the appointment. “We interviewed all of the applicants. I don’t know what else we can do,” he said.

Warnock was paid $9,516.84 annually, Chancery Clerk Dot McGee said this morning.

Civil Defense initially was designed to provide for protection of the civilian population in the event of a nuclear attack. Over the years, the agency evolved into emergency management designed to equip the county with disaster plans. Today, hazardous materials recovery, emergency 911 services and evacuation plans in the event of an accident at the Grand Gulf Power Plant all fall under the umbrella of emergency management.

“The long-range goal (of the agency) is to provide the county with the highest degree of emergency management possible,” Callaway said.

He said although some areas of the county’s emergency agency need some “fine tuning,” he plans no immediate changes.

Callaway had served as operations officer for Civil Defense for seven years before resigning the position in 1997.

“He is well-qualified for the job, and he has experience in this area,” George said.

Callaway, who retired from the U.S. Army Reserve in the fall, said he believes his “military training and experience also will be very valuable in this job.”

His 31 years in the military included nine months in Bosnia, and he retired with the rank of sergeant major in intelligence.