The position for the Columbia County director of emergency management will remain unfilled following the resignation of Steve Pegram.

The decision to postpone the search for a replacement comes from an admitted lack of oversight and understanding of the department by the commissioners.

Department Evaluation

“We don’t know, really, what goes on over at emergency management, because they’re doing what they do and they’ve got all their grants and all their different things,” Heimuller said, and suggested the board focus on evaluating the department before making a hiring decision.

Jean Ripa, director of the county's human resources, said transition periods like this are the best time to do evaluations like the one suggested by Heimuller.

The director of emergency management position is supervised by the commissioners.

“I think one of the things I keep hearing from the commissioners is that you’re not very aware of whats going on in emergency management,” Ripa said, adding that it wasn’t feasible for the commissioners to stay up to date on the day-to-day occurrences for every department they oversee. “I think it goes a little bigger, in terms of bigger picture lack of awareness and I think that’s something that probably might need to change here so you’re more aware of what they’re doing and what their plans are … more communication.”

By leaving the position vacant and postponing a competitive search for a new director, the Deputy Director of Emergency Management Shaun Brown will assume the duties of director. While Brown is directing the department, the commissioners said they would look into the department more and reach out to state agencies to assist in evaluating the department before starting the hiring process.

The director of emergency management is responsible for developing and maintaining countywide hazard response plans, coordinating emergency plans, training emergency responders, educating the public about emergency preparedness and other duties related to the department.

The Columbia County Board of Commissioners decided at its Wednesday, Oct. 7 meeting to leave the position open pending the evaluation.

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