Hill replaced as EMA director, asks for clarification

Published 11:22 am Tuesday, June 26, 2012

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

Former Emergency Management Agency Director Walter Hill wants clarity on Lowndes County Commission action to replace him as EMA director Monday.

The commission appointed county engineer David Butts as interim EMA director until a replacement can be found.

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Commission chairman Robert Harris confirmed following the meeting that the action taken meant Hill was terminated.

However, when asked for comment, Hill contended he was suspended with pay earlier in the month and subsequently retired from the position.

“As of right now, we are without an EMA director,” Harris said, pointing out the county engineer and EMA director usually have the same type of information and knowledge as to the way the county is laid out. “So I would ask this commission to go on record appointing Mr. (David) Butts as interim director until one can be

The commission unanimously approved the measure.

Butts said he has been told by other engineers doing EMA work that once he gets the classes he needs it won’t make much difference in his work.

When asked if the action taken meant Hill had been terminated from the EMA Director’s position Harris said, “That’s correct.” However, he declined to comment as to why.

“We just appointed Mr. Butts so that we could have some point of contact for whatever type of emergency that may come,” Harris said.

Hill said he has not received anything “other than the letter that I received three and a half weeks ago saying I’m suspended with pay effectively immediately.”

He said that letter “expressed to me that I would have a right to appeal the suspension to the personnel review board.”

Hill said he will seek “clarification” on the commission’s action.

“I know now that they appointed a new interim director, and it is unknown in their action what actually transpired with the EMA director,” Hill said. “But I know that I submitted a certified letter addressed to the chairman of the county commission indicating that I was retiring from the position of Lowndes County EMA Director and that I wished them well, appreciated them for the county and for all the other first responders for all the work that they’ve done and my decision was based upon my health and family and the best interest of the county being able to move forward.”