County: Safe despite County safe despite lack of emergency coordinator

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

By WINONA WHITAKER

Courier staff writer

OTTUMWA — Wapello County Supervisors don’t expect any problems to arise from the absence of an emergency management coordinator. The board hopes to have a new coordinator to head the county’s Emergency Management department in place by the first of March.

"I’ve had to do the budget several times, so that’s not a big deal," said Supervisor Jerry Parker, chairman of the Wapello County Emergency Management Commission. Parker said supervisors have 46 resumes so far and could end up with 50 applications for the position. "And they come from all over the United States," Parker said.

Parker has been through four coordinators in his time on the! commission, he said. "Our hope is by the first of March we have a new emergency management coordinator.

"We’re required by law to have a five-year plan" for dealing with emergency events, Parker explained. The commissioner "[sets] up a plan for every kind of disaster you can think of, and they keep a list of people who are crucial in those [emergencies]."

Contact information and the responsibilities of different departments are all spelled out in the commission’s plan. The coordinator keeps order as diverse entities solve the problems produced by emergency events, like the flood of 2010. The coordinator also keeps contact information updated as new personnel take over positions.

In addition, the coordinator will be in contact with the state’s EM offices to obtain any assistance needed at that level.

"Once you’ve set up a plan," said Parker, "you practice it. Everybody responds just like it was real." Because of these practice events, Parker is certain that Wapello County will have no trouble operating without a coordinator for a couple of months.

Nick Martini stepped down as coordinator as 2016 ended, and a new coordinator has not been chosen. But the county will still be able to handle any emergency, Parker said.

"The people that are in charge, like the sheriff, they’ve been thro! ugh this before," Parker said. They know what they are expected and do and will respond with or without a coordinator in place.

"And in the interim, we have support with all those in the area," said Parker. In addition, Jack Briggs, the state planner for the region, visited Wapello County to check on the situation. "They want to make sure we’re not sitting here and needing help," Parker said.

Brian Morgan joined the board Tuesday for his first meeting as a supervisor, having been elected in November. Jerry Parker was elected chairman of the board for the new year, and Morgan will serve as vice chair.

Supervisors spent the majority of Tuesday’s short board meeting making appointments for the year and approving committee assignments for the supervisors.

Supervisor! s appointed Walter Dimmitt to fill a vacancy on the Dahlonega ! Township Board of Trustees. Dahlonega had been without two trustees and a clerk.

The appointment of Dimmitt gives the township two trustees, making it possible for the board of trustees to appoint a third trustee and a township clerk.

Reporter Winona Whitaker can be contacted at wwhitaker@ ottumwacourier. com and followed on Twitter @courierwinona.

Category: Community

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