County Emergency Management Director and County Fire Chief Rick Stever presented to commissioners this week his idea for dividing the two positions. Stever recommended the hiring of a new emergency management director and he would remain as district fire chief.
He said his duties as fire chief are beginning to demand more and more of his time, “and I feel there is a need and a justification for splitting the jobs. There is funding in the fire district budget for a position and the emergency management position can continue on through the 75 percent grant money and 25 percent county money.”
Stever said he is finding himself spread quite thin trying to do both jobs and said he is behind in getting the emergency management working as well as he would like. “There doesn’t seem to be funding available to get this done. We need to have it, but it will be at some expense.”
He said he has not been really able to do what are called “after action reports,” which are of benefit to the county on various incidents. He referenced the Panaca bombing in July in particular. “It definitely needs an after action report filed with the state, and I haven’t been able to get that done yet.”
If the positions were divided, Stever says he would be able to assist a new emergency management director by “getting them acquainted and familiar with what the position is and contacts around the state.”
Commissioners discussed the matter and thought that two full-time positions were not needed, perhaps rather half-time to three-quarter-time, up to 29 hours per week, on each one.
Varlin Higbee said they did not have enough information yet as to what is the breakdown and timeline of hours spent per week on each job to make a decision at this time. Paul Donohue said, “I think we’d have a hard time justifying to the taxpayers a full-time Lincoln County fire chief.”
Stever said he did not have those figures available at the time, but said he is “not able to make one third of the meetings I am invited to as far as emergency management is involved because I don’t feel I have the time to attend. I could be gone quite regularly to different meetings and trainings that are conducted around the state.”
Commissioners approved a motion to seek more information and working with Stever to outline what the duties, requirements and expectations of two separate positions would be, and will put the issue on the agenda for the Oct. 14 meeting.