LISBON - There will be a new leadership team in charge of the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency following the resignation of EMA Director Darren Dodson.
Dodson's resignation, which was accepted Wednesday by county commissioners, comes three months after deputy EMA Director Tim Long quit to take a job as an outreach coordinator at the Tuscarawas campus of Kent State University.
Dodson is reportedly leaving for a job in the oil and gas industry, according to commissioners, and his last day is July 20. The resignation comes two weeks after the EMA received a perfect score from federal officials grading the EMA's response to a simulated disaster at a nearby nuclear power plant.
Both Dodson and Long were hired in 2005, although Long resigned six months later to work at the federal prison in Elkton. He returned as deputy EMA director in May 2006 after four months at the prison.
Commissioners acted to replace Long by restructuring the office and creating two deputy director positions. Edie Dillard, who has worked as EMA administrative assistant since 2006, was promoted to one of the deputy director positions. Samantha Works of New Waterford was hired for the other.
During her six years at the EMA, Dillard has received certification in a number of EMA-related fields and is currently working on obtaining an EMA director certificate.
Works, who graduated from Kent State in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in justice studies, is currently a case manager/assistant chemical dependency counselor, for NEOCAP, a prison-alternative facility that serves several counties in northeastern Ohio. She has served as a firefighter/EMT with the New Waterford Fire Department since 2004.
They were selected from a field of 26 applicants, six of whom were interviewed. Commissioner Jim Hoppel said they still intend to replace Dodson, and the search will begin immediately.
The decision to restructure the jobs and hire Dillard and Works for the positions was based on the recommendation of a committee consisting of Dodson and representatives from FirstEnergy Corp., which operates the nuclear power plant in Shippingport, Pa.
Since a portion of the county falls within 15 miles of the plant, the EMA is required to have a response plan in the event of an accident at the facility. Because of the mandate, FirstEnergy has helped fund EMAs within the 15-mile zone.
In the county's case, FirstEnergy has provided most of the funding for the EMA -$234,000 per year - with the only other source of operating revenue a $84,000 grant from the Ohio EMA. Commissioners, who contribute nothing toward operation of the EMA, turned down Dodson's 2011 request for employee pay raises after FirstEnergy imposed a funding freeze. Their last pay raises were in 2009.
At least one other Ohio county has two deputy EMA directors, Dodson told commissioners, and having two deputy directors to share responsibility and work is expected to provide the EMA with greater management flexibility.