County decides to separate 911, EMA posts|[9/16/06]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 16, 2006

The positions of Warren County Emergency Management Director and E-911 Dispatch director could become separate again soon, as Warren County supervisors decided Friday to re-advertise to fill the former on a full-time basis.

Since May, E-911 Dispatch Center Director Geoffrey Greetham has served in that capacity. The county board voted then on a contentious 3-2 vote to oust L.W. &#8220Bump” Callaway from the post and appoint Greetham, on the contention that emergency plans were not being coordinated efficiently between city and county elected officials and the private sector.

Arriving at the decision after an informal session that stretched most of Friday, the board again went back and forth on what course the position should take. The director’s status as a voting member of the E-911 Commission has also remained in limbo, as Greetham cannot serve as a board member of a commission of which he is also an employee.

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In its 2006-07 operating budget, the building permitting department was split from emergency management, creating an added wrinkle to the entire debate.

&#8220I haven’t changed my position,” District 5 Supervisor Richard George said. &#8220I’m in favor of hiring a full-time director.”

District 1 Supervisor David McDonald, the supervisor who serves on the commission, said he favored re-advertising &#8220with the understanding that he would give up (his directorship of) 911” if his application is chosen. He said again he is likely to apply.

District 4 Supervisor Carl Flanders, long an advocate of having the two jobs under one umbrella, said he was convinced Greetham could do both jobs &#8220if given the resources and manpower.”

Greetham addressed the board for about an hour on crisis communications since he took the helm of emergency management. Communication between the agency and city officials in the hours following the water main break &#8220wasn’t perfect,” but otherwise adequate, Greetham said, adding that emergency dispatch records show just one call between the city and 911 in the three-hour search for the source of the rupture.

He noted that he still plans to update the county’s emergency management plan to include a comprehensive &#8220to-do” list for who supplies needed essentials in times of natural disasters. One noted criticism of the plan among critics of Callaway was a lack of such.

For the first time in a public setting, Greetham took issue with the communication between he and other board members when he was appointed to the directorship in May. Greetham has said he had no prior knowledge that he was about to be named to the position.

&#8220That’s not how good government works,” he told the board.

An operations officer will be hired once Greetham – or whoever is selected as the agency’s director before Nov. 22 – recommends to the board a candidate from among about a dozen submitted applications.

Since his appointment, Greetham has received no compensation other than the $45,000 he makes as emergency dispatch director.