Harrison County Yet to Hire Emergency Management Director
by Keith Burton - GCN 5/25/07
Governor Haley Barbour recently announced that the state was ready for the 2007 hurricane season, but is Harrison County ready?
In March, the county's Emergency Management Director General Joe Spraggins resigned to take a position with a real estate development company. Since then, a replacement for Spraggins has not been hired by the Harrison County Board of Supervisors.
The county's emergency operations center is manned, however, but it is without a director to oversee the department that is critically needed if a hurricane or tropical storm forms and threatens the county. Harrison County is the home county for the cities of Biloxi, Gulfport Pass Christian, Long Beach and D'Iberville, all of which were severely hurt by Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005.
GCN called several Harrison County Board of Supervisors, including Distric 2 Supervisor Larry Benefield, and District 5 Supervisor Connie Rockco, as well as County Administrator Pam Ulrich on Thursday to ask about the status of hiring a new EOC director. None returned our phone calls, but GCN did get General Spraggins on the phone, who was attending a hurricane conference in Monterrey, Mexico for his employer.
Spraggins told GCN that when he left the county, he promised that if he was needed, he had the approval of his employer to leave his current job to help the county.
"I am still helping them and if a storm comes, I will help 'em," Spraggins said.
Spraggins said that the county is in good shape and is prepared for this year's hurricane season. He explained that the county is looking for the right person.
"They are looking for someone and trying to do it right," said Spraggins. "The board is taking the time to find the right person."
Spraggins said he is not aware of anyone that the board is looking at, but said, "The county is in good shape and I am there to back them up."
When Spraggins announced his resignation in March, the Board of Supervisors reportedly said they planned to have a replacement soon after.
Spraggins, gained national attention in the days immediately after hurricane Katrina. He had only taken the post a few days before the hurricane hit and with his military experience, he helped coordinate the county's emergency response to the storm.