Committee turns to second choice to direct 911 center

Friday, March 13, 2015

By Karen Hall

Editor

The job of director of the new 911 center is to be offered to Joey King, the 911 Board's second choice, since its first choice turned down the job offer.

This was the recommendation of the consolidation committee, which met Wednesday morning.

At the 911 Board's last meeting, on Feb. 25, board members decided to offer the job to Jim Miller, currently assistant director of the Bedford County 911 center. There were about 12 applicants for the job, of which the top five were interviewed.

The only problem with Miller, said Lewisburg Fire Chief Larry Williams, was that the job description said the director has to live in Marshall County, while Miller lives just outide the county.

"I want to make sure that's OK," said Williams.

"If it's OK with you, it's fine with me," said Chairman Chris Gilbert.

"He could move into the county and live further (from the 911 center) than he does now," pointed out Lewisburg City Manager Randall Dunn.

Emergency Medical Service Director Bill Reuter disagreed with letting the residency requirement slide.

"I feel like it is important to live here, be vested in this community and pay taxes here," Reuter said.

"I think the response time is the priority," said Lewisburg Police Chief Chuck Forbis, who made a motion to amend the job description to remove the residency requirement but keep the 30-minute response time.

"I do not feel that would be a politically popular thing to do in this county," said Reuter.

"I'm fundamentally opposed to it."

When Forbis' motion was put to the vote, there were four against it, two in favor and two abstained.

"With the motion defeated, shall we still offer him the job?" asked Gilbert.

On this, the vote was five in favor and three against, so later that day, Miller was offered the job, on the condition that he move into Marshall County within six months.

After thinking it over for several days, reported Linda Haislip, Miller turned it down, stating circumstances just wouldn't allow him to take the job at this time.

Haislip is officially the mapping and address coordinator for the Marshall County Emergency Communications District. She is employed by the 911 Board to take care of all its paperwork, including its banking.

At the meeting Wednesday, members of the consolidation committee had to decide what to do next.

"You're making a mistake," said Forbis, to start the discussion.

"I'm extremely disappointed we stuck with the requirement that he live in the county. But that's just my opinion."

Miller acted as interim director of the Bedford County center, and he is now assistant director, so he is clearly able to do Marshall County's job.

"I think Mr. King could do the job," said Dunn, turning to the other names on the short list.

"He was the committee's second choice."

"I think he has that ability," agreed Emergency Management Agency Director Steve Calahan, making the motion to recommend King to the 911 Board, and this was agreed on a 5-2 vote.

King has been the Marshall County's Emergency Medical Service Communications Director since 2006. He is qualified as a paramedic, but is no longer able to lift patients since he had surgery in 2007. As communications director he attends 911 Board meetings as a non-voting observer, but is often called on for his opinion on dispatch and operational problems and their solutions.

The 911 Board is due to meet in special session at 9 a.m. Tuesday, with the only item on its agenda the choice of a director for the 911 center.

If the board accepts the committee's recommendation, the job could be offered -- and accepted -- on the spot, since King regularly attends the 911 Board's meetings.

Discussion Wednesday then turned to the salary he will be offered.

If King starts work before the end of March, committee members agreed he could start at one salary and have it increased on the date the center "goes live" (July 1), if his work is satisfactory up to that point.

Either way, he will be taking a cut in pay from his current position at the Emergency Medical Service.

Dunn and Calahan both noted they had taken cuts in pay when moving into their current jobs.