WILMINGTON — The 30th anniversary of the Clinton County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), its four directors, and a longtime executive committee member were recognized Wednesday in the courthouse.
As Clinton County Emergency Management Executive Committee Chairperson Michael Boyle said at the event, “Preparing for that inevitable disaster is what it’s all about.”
Likewise, at the conclusion of the recognition held in the county commissioners office, Clinton County Commissioner Mike McCarty said with natural disasters it’s a question of “when” rather than “if.”
Accordingly, he added, local residents and officials can be glad there are EMA people doing the right preparation and training work, so that when a natural or man-made disaster does occur, we’re ready to go.
Over time, the EMA has evolved to a changing environment: man-made emergencies such as active aggressor situations have been added to natural calamities such as tornadoes and blizzards as dangers to prepare for.
That changing environment was there from the start, said first-year Clinton County EMA Director Thomas Breckel.
“EMA was born from the civil defense area,” Breckel remarked. He said when he read through the local December 1989 resolution that called for the creation of the Clinton County EMA, there was a lot of civil defense kind of wording.
Counting himself, there have been four directors in the county. In chronological order, they were Gregory Law, Shawn Pandorf, Mike Jones, and now Breckel.
“Those four directors have helped you shield Clinton County residents over the years from natural disasters,” he told commissioners. The EMA work included raising the level of resilience in the event of a disaster.
The past directors received a coin/medallion Wednesday recognizing their service and dedication. The medallion for Jones, who died about a year ago and was the longest-serving director, was presented to his sister Vickie Giannetti.
Clinton County Emergency Management Executive Committee Chairperson Michael Boyle also was recognized. Boyle has been a part of the Executive Committee so long, said Breckel, that Boyle can’t remember exactly how many years it’s been.
It’s believed to be in the 23 to 25ish year range.
Boyle commented he is an amateur radio operator by hobby.
“We [he and other amateur radio enthusiasts] got involved early on with the first EMA. I remember a couple of us coming over and being with you [Greg Law] and talking about what we could do to help out as far as communications,” said Boyle.
He added they no longer have the trailer they used, but they still enjoy the hobby and, “We’re still ready and able to respond in a time of need to provide that communication capability.”
Clinton County Commissioners President Brenda K. Woods said she has had the pleasure, in other capacities, of working with the three prior directors and appreciates their contributions.
She added Breckel has done a tremendous job during his first nine months in the position, and commissioners “look forward to many, many good things happening in the future.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.