CHIPLEY — The county organizational chart was changed Thursday when the Washington County Board of County Commissioners decided to move the Emergency Medical Services department back under the purview of the county’s Public Safety Director.
Commissioner Lynn Gothard made the motion to move the EMS back under the Public Safety Director’s control per the county’s Proposed Progressive Governmental Structure chart, approved in 2008. After discussion, the commissioners voted to make the move, with Commissioner Joel Pate voting against the change.
On the chart, in 2008 the EMS is listed under the Public Safety director, but in 2009 the chart was revised and EMS was moved out to be a department on its own.
Currently the county does not have a public safety director, since the retirement of Roger Hagan in December.
“Roger Dale was a coordinator with all the departments,” Pate said. “They (EMS) pay more than half its own expenses because they can bill for their services,” Pate said. “And we’re not talking about putting someone there to tell them how to run their department.
Pate said he was chairman of the commission when the EMS moved from the hospital to county control. “It’s been there for seven years, and our system works pretty good. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Pate added.
The process of creating the progressive structure for the county was a contentious one. “I came onboard to a stack of grievances,” said Human Resources Director Heather Finch, who provided commissioners with a copy of the county’s organizational chart. “It was very difficult, and we had people very upset.”
Finch said the county also reworked the salary structures at the same time. “It was a huge, huge process.”
“I feel the whole thing needs to be looked at,” County Manager Steve Joyner said of the county’s organizational chart. “There are a few things here we don’t have any more. It just needs cleaning up a bit.”
Board Chairman Alan Bush noted that the county’s E-911/GIS was not answering emergency phone calls, but rather, dealt with providing addresses for county properties. “I don’t know why that isn’t under building or code enforcement,” he said.
Earlier in the meeting, county resident Danny Hayes asked the commissioners if there were plans to hire a public safety director. “My question is this, why do we need to fill this position so quick?”
Commissioner Todd Abbott said the county has been looking for a public safety director for some time, even before Hagan announced his retirement.
Hayes said the commissioners should be diligent in searching for a public safety director, and make sure that any candidate hired had sufficient experience and qualifications for the job.
“I’d hate to see just another relative of somebody stuck in there,” Hayes said. “There are so many relatives on the county payroll, if there was ever a funeral the whole county would shut down.”
Angia Morris, president of the Vernon Historical Society, invited the commissioners to attend the dedication ceremony for the newly completed Vernon Bridge, planned for 11 a.m. on Feb. 14. The ceremony is being hosted by the Florida Department of Transportation, the city of Vernon, and Community South Bank, and Gov. Rick Scott is expected to attend, Morris said.
“We invite you to be with us on Valentine’s Day, so bring your sweethearts,” she told the commissioners. “We don’t invite you to speak, but you’re welcome to help us serve food,” she added, jokingly.