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MEMA Director Robert Latham Issues Retirement Statement
From: MEMA Public Information Office
Filed 5/3/06   GCN


Jackson Statement from Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Robert Latham:


While attending the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando a few weeks ago it was reported that I had announced my retirement.   I indicated then that my priority was focusing on our comprehensive hurricane preparedness campaign in preparation for the upcoming season and that our primary concern was that nothing distract from that mission. With more than 100,000 of our citizens living in travel trailers and mobile homes, the stakes are high but I am confident that with the steps we have taken, we will be ready.


As you all know by now Governor Barbour released a statement today that I have officially informed him of my retirement effective July 1 after 25 years of public service to the citizens of Mississippi. The Governor and I met this morning and he was very complimentary of what MEMA has achieved. He also understands my decision to retire, to spend more time with my family and pursue other opportunities to improve our nation’s disaster preparedness and response capabilities.


This decision has not been easy, but after much prayer and consultation with my family, I feel this is the right decision. I plan to take a little time off, travel with my wife and return to our home in Rankin County where we plan to continue to live.


Just over six years ago when I was appointed as the Director of MEMA, I never imagined that I would lead the agency through 11 presidential disaster declarations, one of which would be the worst natural disaster in our country’s history.  Having served as the Tate County Emergency Management Director for five years and overseen our county’s response to the Ice Storm of 1994, I knew that MEMA could and should be more - and that local capability must be improved.  I knew that we needed to build relationships with local governments, expand our county emergency management capability, assist local officials in improving local preparedness through implementation of a field services liaison program and improve the overall professionalism of emergency management. 


Last, but certainly not least, was the construction of a new state of the art emergency operations center that would be second to none and that could adequately serve this state in times of emergency or disaster. 


Today I can honestly say that we have achieved all of those goals. I want to thank the citizens of this great state for the opportunity that I have had to live the American dream.  It is an opportunity that I will always treasure.  I want to thank you, the media, for the opportunities we have had to work together to make this state a safer place to live.


Statement from Governor Haley Barbour on the Retirement of MEMA Director Robert Latham

From: Office of the Governor

Robert Latham, who has served ably as Executive Director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency since 2000, informed me today that he has made the decision to retire effective July 1, 2006. I have accepted his decision with regret because he has performed his important duties exceptionally well in very difficult times, especially since Hurricane Katrina.

Robert's high level of professionalism and total commitment to the cause of emergency management are legendary, as is his effectiveness in his chosen career. During his tenure, he has managed Mississippi's emergency management operations through 11 Presidential disaster declarations. He has strengthened capabilities and relationships among local, state and federal units, coordinated construction of a new operations center, and made sure that all 82 counties have emergency management programs.

As my search for his successor begins, I want to wish Robert the very best. I am especially appreciative that he will work with MEMA staff to ensure that we are as prepared as humanly possible for the upcoming hurricane season, which officially begins June 1. The search for his successor as Executive Director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency will begin immediately as we continue to work to provide for the safety and security of Mississippians in emergency situations.

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