MOUNT VERNON — After two hours in executive session Thursday afternoon, the Knox County Emergency Management Agency Executive Board adjourned from its special meeting without taking any action regarding the future employment of Homeland Security/EMA Director Marie Blubaugh. Another special meeting has been scheduled for March 5.
Blubaugh was placed on paid administrative leave a week ago following a special meeting of the EMA Executive Board during which allegations of misconduct were brought to light.
Knox County Assistant Prosecutor Chip McConville, who acts as legal advisor to the board and was present for Thursday’s meeting, said more information is needed before next week’s meeting.
Knox County Commissioner Allen Stockberger, the chairman of the EMA Executive Board, said in an interview before Thursday’s meeting a tape of a phone call between EMA Deputy Director Brian Hess and Mount Vernon Fire Chief Shawn Christy, which was forwarded to Fredericktown EMS Chief Rick Lanuzza by Blubaugh, was one of the issues to be discussed by the board Thursday.
McConville played a tape of the phone call for the board during the special meeting. McConville said the contents of the tape were not the issue before the board, but rather the forwarding of the recorded December phone call to Lanuzza by Blubaugh.
A copy of the recording was provided to the News by McConville. During the call initiated by Christy, he and Hess discuss the revision of the emergency plan for the Knox County Fairgrounds currently being conducted by Hess. No derogatory language about any third party is heard on the recording.
Stockberger said alleged inappropriate use of a county vehicle by Blubaugh is also an issue the board has discussed. “The board told her picking up and dropping off her grandchildren was not an appropriate use of the vehicle,” he said.
Stockberger said he and Knox County Safety and Loss Director Emily Marth reminded Blubaugh during a phone conversation that she was to stop transporting her grandchildren in her county vehicle for liability reasons.
According to Stockberger, Blubaugh is alleged to have driven the children home from her office after they were dropped off by a babysitter, following the warning.
Also in front of the board during the special meeting, was the lack of communication between Blubaugh and her staff.
Stockberger said the combination of factors led the board to place Blubaugh on leave last week pending their investigation.
“The reason was the tape and communication and lack thereof with the staff, and the vehicle,” Stockberger explained.
Besides the executive board members, all three Knox County Commissioners and Marth were also present for Thursday’s meeting.
McConville said Blubaugh will remain on paid administrative leave. Hess remains in place as interim EMA director.