MOUNT VERNON — News of the resignation effective today of Deputy Director Matt Sturgeon has opened the doors for reorganization in the Knox County Emergency Management Agency office. Options for possible reorganization were discussed Thursday afternoon in meetings with the Knox County 9-1-1 Board and the Knox County EMA Board.
“For a number of years, the chains of command have been nothing less than confused,” said Chip McConville during Monday’s 9-1-1 board meeting. “The question now is how do we make things operate? How do we reorganize without the moving of mountains? Nobody is pleased with how things are working ... it is a recurring problem.”
McConville stated that board has come to the conclusion that the best solution is “to decouple EMA from 9-1-1,” creating two different “silos,” one for 9-1-1 and one for EMA. “This would make the lines of communication more straight. There would be no cross funding of positions,” said McConville.
Board president Teresa Bemiller explained that this would create two separate director positions with an opening now on the 9-1-1 side with current Director Brian Hess choosing to remain on the EMA side.
“This could be extremely beneficial to how things are run,” said Mount Vernon Fire Chief Shawn Christy. “It’s a tremendous opportunity.”
“Looking at this from an economic standpoint and an efficiency standpoint, we would welcome the day-to-day operations of [9-1-1] office,” said Knox County Sheriff David Barber, explaining that prior to 2002 his staff had pretty much run the dispatcher’s office. “We have discussed this at our office and are willing to look at options of filling in gaps.”
In looking at the possibility of creating two different divisions, Knox County Commissioner Allen Stockberger stated that a new director position should be paid directly from 9-1-1 funds. “This should be budget friendly to the general fund,” said Stockberger.
Bemiller received approval to move forward in creating the position of a 9-1-1 director. A job description is to be drawn up, and the position will be advertised immediately. “We certainly want to bring in top candidates for interviews,” said Bemiller.
With today being the final day in the office for Sturgeon, he told how he will be staying in the Mount Vernon area. “I’ll be working in private industry in providing industrial services,” said Sturgeon. “It will be a different industry, but I can still utilize the same skill set. It was a tough decision, but this is a good opportunity. The tough part will be leaving my colleagues.”
A Knox County EMA meeting followed with Hess telling that he attended a recent EMA national conference, explaining how the local services benefit the county and state. He sent a letter to all members detailing the event.
A new copier is now in use in the office, one that is less expensive. Hess explained that the old copier is no longer under contract and needs to be returned to the leasing company who is asking for $450 for shipping costs. If available, Hess will look into the possibility of buying the copier rather than paying the costs to return it.
Hess also reported that new security cameras and monitors have been installed in the prosecutor’s office and the treasurer’s office.