Commissioners Dismiss EMA Director Monday night

The Wilcox County Courthouse Annex

 

By Ethan Van Sice

By Ethan Van Sice

 

I really don’t think it’s just Wilcox…

I’m pretty sure incompetency, procrastination, and inattention to detail are among the most sought after attributes any councilman considers when it’s time to hire, yet another, County employee.

It sure seems that way.

I mean, I get it; they’re trying to seal an image. An image of power, meaning, and control. And since there’s power in numbers, they need just as many stagnant bottoms in those rickety, cherry oak chairs to muffle out the frivolous, babbling echoes in those shiny, colossal, “oooh it looks so Roman!” chambers, that are really only still standing because, well…they were made that way.

Because a long, long time ago, there was an equally diluted group of Governators who thought their importance would last forever too.

Problem is, forever won’t last too long if you don’t do your job.

Ineptitude. It’s gotta be a universal trait, no matter how miniscule the infestation of black mold is in the courthouse, these local government employees have proven time after time that their jobs—their “service”—is basically useless.

It’s too easy for me to harp on such taboo, hush-hush bureaucratic topics within the bowels of my cushy sofa, even knowing at least a quarter of the Wilcox County Commissioners are 100% capable of expediting a brick through my living room window. I’m not bothered by it, because–like the Tag Clerks, the Assistant Coroners, the Assistant Director of Air Qualities, the Commercial Combination Inspectors, the Executive Assistants, the Executive Assistant to Assistant County Manager, the Custodial Leads, the Custodial Specialist,  the Custodial Supervisor, or any other “job title” our local government creates by pulling out random letters from a Scrabble sack–I am surrounded too. I’m not alone on this train of thought.

Kind of like Sinn Fein Councilor Gerry Murray. According to him, County councils will be a thing of the past by the year 2024. He’s been quoted to say that in the last ten years, “local authorities have lost their power over waste management, higher education grants, the issue of driving licenses, critical planning decisions, water, and sanitation.”

It’s not just Wilcox…

But during Monday’s County commissions meeting, it was. Our ineptitude was highlighted before a shocked, disappointed, and angered group of commissioners and citizens, after Mr. Art Faulkner, State of Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director, brought some bad news.

He claims there was a large sum of money that could’ve been, should’ve been, would’ve been ours…

If only we’d been paying attention.

EMA Director Faulkner was very straightforward with the commissioners, “We’d received a request to look at the damage here due to flooding from September 2015 to February of this year. After speaking with gov. Bentley, we asked FEMA to add disaster assistance to Wilcox County.”

But it was already too late.

FEMA denied assistance. After receiving notice of the denial, Chairman Moton tried to appeal that declaration. That too, was denied, because according to Faulkner, “the county was past the window of requirement”

An estimated $450,000 worth of damage was done as a result of the flood. That’s a heavy hit for any county to take, but unfortunately, Wilcox County passed the window of opportunity to receive the aid.

“(we) require that you have up to 30 days after a disaster occurs,” said Faulkner, “in order to apply a request.” Meanwhile, Governor Bentley was able to grant aid to 39 other counties, all of whom applied in a timely manner.

“Its unfortunate, but we needed to know sooner.” Faulkner said.

Faulkner felt the need to expound on how just bad it’s gotten in Wilcox, “This is not the first time we’ve had an issue here,” he said, “since we’ve had those, you’ve received federal money for your emergency medical program, the government puts requirements on the counties in order for them to receive that money, and it’s my job to make sure everyone follows those guidelines.”

Since we have not, the EMA has suspended funding on numerous occasions.

“There’s got to be some commitment from THIS County,” continued Faulkner, “You’re one of only 2 counties in the state of Alabama that I’ve had to write one of these (suspension letters) for,” said Faulkner, with one final stab.

District 1 Commissioner Bill Albritton was visibly disappointed, “without putting you on the spot,” he said, “where would that responsibility (to apply for aid) lie?”

According to Section 31-6 , a State and a Local EMA director is responsible.

Our EMA director is supposed to be the main local contact to inform the State’s office of our damage and the aid that we need. But for one reason or another, it never happened.

Bill Albritton, as the supervisor over our EMA director, Ms. Williams, made a bold yet necessary motion. “It’s very sobering, what we’ve heard,” he said, “some of these deficiencies aren’t surprising to me. Personally, I think as commissioners we have to take a whole new direction with our EMA program, and so…regrettably, I’m going to make a motion that we dismiss our present EMA director under Group 2 of our handbook”.

That offense would be item 22: incompetency and repeated inefficiency of performance and duties. That person should be given a ten day leave, with pay, and afterwards be offered a hearing.

Commissioner Green made a second. The motion passed with 4 approved and 2 opposed.

Ms Williams’ ten day leave began Tuesday.

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