County nixes consolidation of emergency operations|[11/1/05]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Any notion of revamping emergency operations countywide fell flat Monday when District 4 Supervisor Carl Flanders’ motion to consolidate with the City of Vicksburg received no second.

The motion followed an hour-long closed discussion by the Warren County Board of Supervisors who called it a personnel matter.

Under the idea promoted by Flanders and by Vicksburg Mayor Laurence Leyens, planning for emergencies and responses to events such as natural disasters or industrial accidents would fall to the director of the E-911 Dispatch Center. That center is jointly funded by city and county governments and administered by a city-county board.

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The change would have eliminated the job of Warren County Emergency Management Agency Director L.W. &#8220Bump” Callaway III. Callaway is a county employee, having received the appointment after long-time Civil Defense Director Luther Warnock retired several years ago.

Callaway, who received sharp criticism from Leyens in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August and September, was in the room with supervisors for most of the discussion, closed to the public on a motion by District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon.

Interim District 2 Supervisor Larry Prentiss left the executive session after 20 minutes.

Last week, Leyens pitched the idea to the E-911 Commission, of which he is a member. It also fell flat there.

Geoffrey Greetham, E-911 director who would be the point of contact with federal and state authorities in the event of an emergency under the proposal, did not attend Monday’s meeting. He said later that he &#8220is just trying to build a system of public safety to keep the public safe from harm.”

Callaway said the supervisors’ non-action showed they were confident in the current arrangement.

Leyens had conflicts with Callaway before Katrina, dating to October 2003 and a period of personnel turmoil within the E-911 staff.

In other business, supervisors: