EMA-911 merger put on hold

Published 2:43 am Friday, April 5, 2019

Pike County Commission Chairman Robin Sullivan has confirmed that the Pike County Commission will no longer be pursuing a merger of the EMA and 911 agencies in the immediate future.

Sullivan suggested at the commission’s previous meeting on Monday, March 25, that the merger be removed from the agenda, but the commissioners had not discussed what that meant for the future of the merger.

“We’re just leaving it alone for now,” Sullivan said. “We’re looking to hire a director and move forward as the EMA has run in the past.”

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Since the resignation of former director Jeanna Barnes in September 2017, Herb Reeves, dean of student services at Troy University, has filled in as the interim director while commissioners decided how they wanted to move forward with the administration of the agency.

The commission quickly brought up the possibility of merging the EMA office with the 911 office, allowing more entities to give input on the direction of the agency, as well as potentially splitting funds.

A plan emerged to have a single EMA-911 director with an additional three staff members that could handle the duties of either agency.

The plan was for the agencies to share the costs of a facility, salaries, vehicles and technology.

Reeves and 911 Director Chris Dozier had crafted a plan for the arrangement, which had been estimated would cost approximately $215,000 a year.

The plan was at the point of being discussed by stakeholders including the cities of Troy and Brundidge, the towns of Banks and Goshen and Troy University, but no progress had been made toward reaching an agreeable point for all parties in months.

Sullivan said the decision to move forward running the EMA as it has been run in years past does not mean the idea of a merger is completely impossible for the future.

“It’s possible that later on we might look at the EMA-911 merger again,” Sullivan said. “We haven’t had any experience doing it that way. Other counties have done it – we talked to some that liked it and some that didn’t. We’d all have to agree – all the entities and county and city governments would have to agree.”