Forming an EMA panel the right decision

The new panel overseeing the Washington County Emergency Management Agency met this week and though there were differences in opinion on a few issues, the members seem to be on the right track.

Those disagreements that did take place illustrate exactly why forming a panel was the right decision, a compromise for those who felt the sheriff’s office should oversee the EMA and those who felt the local fire departments needed more of a say. The end result was a panel that includes a representative from the sheriff’s office, the county commission and the Washington County Volunteer Fire Chiefs Association.

There are now three people, representing three different entities, to give opinions on any EMA-related issues and that’s very valuable. All three members bring a different background and experience to the table.

We think that should also quiet the concerns of those who felt the sheriff’s office might look after its own interests first if it had oversight over the EMA. Meanwhile, it still takes advantage of the expertise that can be offered by the sheriff’s office in this arena.

When meeting on Tuesday, the group spelled out a specific job description for the EMA director-something that inexplicably had never been done before.

Also, the members agreed to require the director to keep a report of his daily activities. We think that’s a smart idea.

Many in the public wouldn’t be able to say what the director does hour to hour and day to day and we bet many of our county officials wouldn’t know either.

If in the future, it’s apparent that a daily record isn’t needed, its frequency can be reduced.

We’ll be watching to see how both the panel and the EMA continues their respective work, and with the measures being put in place, the taxpayers can more easily do the same.