MOUNT VERNON — In an emergency meeting held Thursday morning at the Knox County Service Center, the Knox County Emergency Management Agency Board placed director Marie Blubaugh on two weeks’ paid administrative leave. The action is pending further investigation into several issues which emerged in the wake of the renewal of her commission and the awarding of a raise in the EMA board’s previous meeting on Feb. 12.
According to Allen Stockberger, EMA board member and Knox County Commissioner, issues of misconduct were the reason for the board’s action Thursday. Stockberger said the issues were brought to him by a fellow board member, Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis. Mavis contacted Stockberger on Feb. 13, asking for an emergency meeting. At the time, Stockberger was out of town, and would not return until late Wednesday. The meeting was therefore arranged for the first thing the following morning, Thursday, Feb. 19.
The three allegations against Blubaugh are a lack of communication between her and her staff, inappropriate use of a county vehicle, and inappropriate sharing of a recorded telephone conversation between EMA Deputy Director Brian Hess and Mount Vernon Fire Chief Shawn Christy. On the last issue, Blubaugh is alleged to have forwarded the recorded conversation to other area fire chiefs. Stockberger said he agreed with Mavis that some of Blubaugh’s alleged actions amount to a breach of the public trust.
“Marie is a good individual who made some poor choices,” Stockberger said, adding that he and the EMA board did not wish to cause her any unnecessary harm, but that in light of the allegations, the board felt decisive action had to be taken.
“The director and staff of the EMA must be able to communicate with the public and with first responders,” Stockberger said.
Hess has been appointed interim EMA director, effective immediately.