911 Board Wants to Share Director of EMA

BY GENA HUFF, Editor

The Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director, Laketha Bell, has been approached by representatives of the Pickens County 911 Board to discuss possibly merging the two director jobs into one. 911 Board Chairman, Keith “Booty” Cox, spoke to the Pickens County Commissioners at the Commission’s June 21 administrative meeting about the possibility. Since technically, both organizations work for the Commissioners, it needed to be brought first to them and to see if they would consider the merger.

The former director of 911 recently resigned. An interim director, Kelly Duncan, has been appointed to fill in until a more permanent selection can be put into place. “Our first choice of director is Ms. Bell (Laketha),” said Cox. “We would like to talk to the commission about negotiating, being able to have her fill both positions, work with y’all where we can as far as retirement, insurance, and salary.”

Cox gave the commissioners a sheet with five counties in Alabama doing something similar as far as integrating the job of 911 and EMA director. “We kind of align with Marengo (County),” said Cox. “They have about the same number of dispatchers, we have a population that’s about the same.”

Commission Chairman Randy Dillard questioned whether, in an emergency situation such as a tornado strike, would the combining of the two jobs conflict in any way.

“It might under present conditions, to some degree,” answered Cox. “What we have in mind, if we can come to an agreement about how this is going to work, we are going to sort of restructure our organization at 911 and have a second assistant director.”

“We’ve tossed it around for a good while now,” Cox continued. “If things stay the same as they are now, let’s say we have a separate director, and they get sick and we don’t have a second in command…we have some personnel issues that we haven’t worked out yet as well. When this option came available, we thought it was the best scenario for the Board.”

“I think it would be good for the EMA, the Commission, and the 911 Board,” commented Commissioner Jerry Fitch.

A probationary period would be put in place if the deal were to go through so if Bell, the Commission, or the 911 Board were not happy, the contract could be negated. “That’s no disrespect, that’s business,” Cox noted.

“I definitely don’t have a problem with it,” said Dillard. “I think it’s a good move.”

Cox asked the commission to consider the proposition as soon as possible. “911 continues to operate, and we will continue to operate, but the sooner we get on track and get situated letting everybody, including the employees up there, know what is expected of them (the better).”

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