GREENFIELD — It’s been almost three months since the head of the county’s dispatching center unexpectedly resigned, but local officials say they believe they have finally found a replacement.
The Emergency Operations Center advisory board has overseen the process and brought two applicants before the Hancock County board of commissioners for interviews. The commissioners, who interviewed the second of the candidates Tuesday, plan to extend an offer at their meeting next Tuesday.
The director primarily oversees the county’s team of dispatchers but is also responsible for overseeing technology upgrades and budgeting for the facility.
The position was formerly held by longtime dispatcher Connie Hoy, who stepped down in late May from the position she’d held for five years, prompting local officials to appoint an interim
director during the search for her successor.
It’s been a tedious process, and the EOC advisory board has focused on finding someone who is both tech-savvy and experienced in overseeing personnel, said Sheriff Mike Shepherd, a member of the board.
“I think the process went very well,” he said. “It was close to 30 applicants. We whittled it down to people that had the experience that we wanted – dispatching and supervising experience. We wanted both.”
Meanwhile, the EOC is being overseen by former Sheriff Nick Gulling, who was appointed interim director after Hoy resigned.
Local officials found Gulling was uniquely qualified for the job; he is well-versed in the technology behind dispatching systems and was an integral part of forming the EOC in 2008, when the city and county’s dispatching teams came together in a brand new building.
Gulling readily offered to help when approached by local officials, but he made it clear he was interested in the job on a short-term basis only.
“We’d love to keep Nick there forever because he’s doing a fantastic job, but obviously, that’s not a reality,” Commissioner Brad Armstrong said.
The process for finding a director was slowed somewhat by the summer schedule, when many members of the advisory board took vacations, Shepherd said.
But the board was also deliberate in finding a perfect match for the county.
“It is the epicenter for all public safety communications in the county,” board member John Jester said. “We are entering into a time period where we are changing or upgrading our dispatch software for all law enforcement and fire in the county, and it’s important to have someone with knowledge of how those upgrades will work.”
The commissioners have not released the name of the top candidate, but Armstrong said the applicant comes to the county with the experience of having run an emergency operations center before.
Armstrong said he expects a quick transition period; the new director will begin work in early September.