MOUNT VERNON — Brian Hess, who has been serving for almost three months as the interim 9-1-1 coordinator and director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, was formally chosen by the Knox County Emergency Management Agency Executive Board on Monday to take over the position.
“I’m very excited and looking forward to this opportunity,” Hess said Tuesday. “I am anticipating the possibilities this office has and I look forward to providing services to the citizens of Knox County.”
Hess began his career with the EMA when he was appointed deputy director Feb. 1, 2008. He became interim director when EMA Director Marie Blubaugh was placed on leave by the board Feb. 19. Blubaugh resigned as director March 6.
Board Chairman Allen Stockberger said the resumes submitted for the position, including that of Hess, were impressive.
“The committee met several times,” Stockberger said. “We viewed numerous resumes and interviewed five high quality candidates. Brian was selected as the new EMA director and 9-1-1 coordinator.”
Stockberger said that although some of the candidates interviewed, including Hess, were relatively young for a position with such responsibility, he and other board members became convinced Hess, 27, had the experience and maturity to succeed in the job.
“We discussed age,” Stockberger said. “Brian is young. He certainly has that youthful zeal and energy which is a positive regarding his age.”
“His age is not an issue with me,” said board member Roger Reed. “He is a very mature young man and he has demonstrated a lot of wisdom so far.”
“We have the luxury of having a seasoned director available to him to provide consultation as needed,” Stockberger said, referring to retired EMA Director Larry Hatton, who remains under contract as a consultant.
Reed said Hess demonstrated his readiness for the job when he was involved in a large-scale hazmat incident on April 20. When a tanker containing over 41,000 pounds of hazardous anhydrous ammonia overturned, Hess helped coordinate efforts to contain the situation.
“I think he came through with flying colors,” Reed said.
“One advantage Brian has is he has already developed a good rapport with first responders and dispatchers,” Stockberger said.
“We look forward to working with Brian Hess ... in the preplanning, response and mitigation of any incidents in the county,” Rick Lanuzza, president of the Knox County Fire and EMS Chiefs Association, said Tuesday. “We will continue to work with him in improving communication and relations between responding agencies.”
“Initially I would like to familiarize people with Homeland Security and Emergency Management and everything I’m charged with overseeing, so they know what we can do for them in a disaster and in being prepared for such an event,” said Hess. “My way of accomplishing that will be continuing my open door policy and being more visible throughout the community at events, such as the county fair.”
Hess grew up in the Howard area and graduated from East Knox High School in 2000. His wife, Hillary, a teacher for the Mount Vernon City Schools, graduated from Danville High School. The couple has two daughters, 5-year-old Brooklynn and 3-year-old Kylee. The family lives in the Bladensburg area.
Brian attended Malone College in Canton and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga. He graduated in 2003 and went to work for the Central Intelligence Agency in the personnel protection division, working several places around the world in the war on terrorism.
Hess said a deputy EMA director should be named within the next month.