LISBON - A local fire official resigned as the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency's certification compliance designee for St. Clair Township because of "instability" within the EMA and the qualifications of the new director.
Glenmoor Fire Capt. Mark Stovall submitted his resignation to EMA Director Luke Newbold in a letter date June 5, saying his decision was "due to the instability and recent actions of your director's position."
"I will not be part of this mockery of the Emergency Management Agency System for Columbiana County any longer, or the politics that have been played by the county commissioners in filling this position," he wrote.
When asked by the Morning Journal to elaborate, Stovall said his disagreement is with commissioners for hiring an unqualified person in former Navy SEAL Luke Newbold to run the EMA.
"I just don't want to be part of the cluster," Stovall said, adding his displeasure is directed more at commissioners than at Newbold, whom he has yet to meet.
"I thank him for his military service and he sounds like a great guy, and I hope he can get up to speed," he said of Newbold.
Newbold was hired in January to replace EMA Director Darren Dodson, who resigned last July to take a job in the private sector. Commissioners took applications but rejected the three finalists recommended by the screening committee and instead decided to wait until 2013 to fill the position, with the delay becoming a campaign issue during the November election.
Meanwhile, commissioners learned Newbold, who was not among the original applicants, wanted to return to the county after serving 13 years as a SEAL, and they decided to hire him instead.
Stovall, in his letter, said he was particularly troubled that commissioners would hire someone who lacked the minimum required NIMS certifications. NIMS stands for the federal National Incident Management System, which establishes emergency preparedness standards for federal, state and local agencies. As a NIMS point of contact person for the EMA, Stovall was charged with overseeing compliance in St. Clair Township.
In his letter, Stovall pointed out he has 17 NIMS certifications. According to information provided by Commissioner Tim Weigle, Newbold has obtained 14 NIMS certifications since he was hired five months ago, plus a certificate for Basic Weather Spotting. Newbold also completed the Federal EMA's Emergency Management Institute's professional development series and is in Summit County this week for training to obtain two more certifications, after which Newbold will have met all of his mandatory training for the year.
"He's working hard to get all of the necessary certifications. As he learns more about what the EMA does, he'll be fine," Weigle said
"I know he's out meeting people because I attend the monthly fire chiefs and fire association meeting and Luke's been there," he added.
Tamara McBride, chief of public affairs for the Ohio EMA, said while the state establishes the duties of a county EMA, there is no state law setting minimum qualifications for directors, which is left solely to the discretion of commissioners.
As for Stovall's comment suggesting the Newbold hiring had something to do with politics, Weigle expressed puzzlement. "I would like to meet with him and talk to him about that political issue because I have no idea what it is," he said.