MOUNT VERNON — Knox County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Deputy Director Matt Sturgeon updated the Knox County Emergency Management Executive Board, Thursday afternoon, on the projects he has become involved in since taking over the job as deputy director July 6.
Sturgeon has responded to the scene of emergencies over the past three months including a large barn fire which was fought by all of Knox County’s fire departments and a fatal wreck on Ohio 3 which involved the release of a large amount of diesel fuel.
In the office, the new deputy director said he has invested much of his time pursuing grants for county projects. He has sought money from a state Homeland Security grant and an emergency management grant, among others.
Sturgeon said he has also worked on a citizen corps grant proposal.
“We are working with volunteers to increase the county’s search and rescue capabilities,” he explained.
“We’ve also applied for a grant that’s going to give us some planning dollars,” Sturgeon told the board. Local emergency planning committee grant money will be used to help pay for fire service training and hazardous material mitigation in the county.
Sturgeon said seeking state and federal dollars to help pay for local projects while county cutbacks are under way makes good sense. “Every little bit helps,” he told board members.
In other business, EMA Director Brian Hess asked the board for approval to make some upgrades to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) located in the EMA office.
Hess said since he took office last spring, he has noticed features in the EOCs of other counties which he would like to see in the Knox County EOC.
Board members agreed to the upgrades which will include the purchase of a drop-down projector and “smart” board to be used for training purposes and in the event the EOC is activated during a county emergency.
Hess said he also plans to purchase footlockers to be used by county agency representatives who respond to the EOC during an emergency. The responders to the EOC will have the materials they need for the emergency stored inside.
The board also gave Hess the go-ahead to begin accepting quotes from companies to build an EMA web site. Hess said the web site will contain educational information as well as emergency declaration details during countywide disasters or weather emergencies.
The board then entered executive session at the request of Hess to discuss personnel issues regarding EMA Office Administrator Heidi Flynn.
“I identified that office administrator Heidi Flynn was being paid for only 35 hours a week when she was actually working 40 hours a week, and I recommended that she be paid for all 40 hours a week,” Hess explained after the board left executive session.
Hess said he has also increased Flynn’s job responsibilities since he took over as director in May. Board member Richard Mavis said the 40-hour pay period for Flynn would be made retroactive to the date Hess took over the agency.