LISBON - The Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency has a new director whose special skills will come in handy should al-Qaeda invade.
Commissioners on Wednesday voted to hire Navy SEAL and county native Samuel "Luke" Newbold as the new EMA director, replacing Darren Dodson, who quit last summer to take a job in the private sector.
"I believe we are very fortunate to obtain his services," Commission Chairman Mike Halleck said of Newbold.
Newbold, 32, is one of three brothers from the Lisbon area who went on to become SEALs. According to his resume, Newbold has served as a SEAL since 1999, carrying out numerous missions in various countries over the past 13 years.
"His ability to understand the importance of security ... is second nature to him," Halleck said, adding whatever Newbold may lack in the way of emergency training, he is more than capable of learning because of his extensive experience.
Halleck said he first approached Newbold sometime following Dodson's resignation to learn whether he might be interested in the position if he ever decided to move home. Newbold intends to retire from active duty but remain in the reserves.
"He's a young man, but it's a young man's game," Halleck said of being a SEAL. "He's got a family now, and they bought a farm here and want to come home."
Commissioners were criticized during the recent election season by a commissioner candidate for failing to name an immediate replacement for Dodson by ignoring the recommendations of their own interview committee. Halleck said at the time they were dissatisfied with the field of candidates and were going beyond the applicants to find a suitable replacement.
"When the EMA position came open there was a lot of information that was floating around, most of which was incorrect," he said.
Interim EMA Director Edie Dillard will remain as deputy director, although at one time Halleck indicated she might be considered for the job. "We have a great team now," he said.
Newbold's salary will be $59,000, compared to $50,500 paid Dodson, with the money coming from FirstEnergy. The utility company has provided the majority of funding for the EMA because the county is required to have an emergency response plan in case of an accident at FirstEnergy's nuclear power plant in Shippingport, Pa.