By Daniel Brunty The Winston County Journal
The Emergency Management Agency gave a farewell to one of their most devoted and distinguished employees—Mr. Clarence Kelley.
A ceremony for Kelley was held on May 21 to present him a plaque for his service to the county for his tenure. “We recognize Clarence for his years of service to the county,” said District 3 Supervisor Mike Peterson.
Also on hand at the ceremony was Bill Brown of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. “We honor Clarence for his years of service which include serving during Katrina, the worst national disaster in our nation’s history,” Brown said.
Kelley has been the EMA Director for the past 12-½ years, and has worked for the county for 14 years total. The EMA, formerly named Civil Defense, helps the citizens of Winston County prepare to respond to emergencies, recover from them, and lessen against their impacts. Some of these emergencies include severe weather, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and winter weather. The local chapter of the EMA serves as a liaison between the county emergency operations centers and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
Kelley also serves as Fire Coordinator, which is the liaison between the local fire departments and the county, as well as with the state. The EMA also deals with any issues regarding Homeland Security, including grants and plans.
Kelley spoke on some of his times during his tenure as Director. “One of the challenges of the job was keeping up with the plans,” Kelley said. “I just tried to keep up with the plans the best I could. There was always a plan for everything, anywhere from tornadoes to chemical spills and homeland security.”
During his tenure as Director, Kelley was part of bringing huge funding to their branch of the EMA. “We, and when I say we I mean the board of supervisors and the county as a whole, brought in approximately 1.2 million dollars worth of equipment through Homeland Security,” Kelley said. “Every fire department has a Class A fire truck now. And I am really proud of that because it is something we never had before. It was a joint effort by just a lot of groups.”
The event that will always be etched in Kelley’s memory is the time of Hurricane Katrina. “It was our biggest event,” he said. “We would go out to parts of the county that had no power for about 7-10 days. We were trying to get the people power and trying to get the situation under control. We worked in conjunction with the power companies to achieve that.”
Kelley explained that he loved his job and told some of the things that motivated him to stay for over 12 years. “Working with the county, fire departments, and state officials has been great,” he said. “All of them have been helpful. Any time something would happen, within just half hour they would be calling to help.”
When Kelley steps down from his position, he will be succeeded by Mr. William T. “Buddy” King of Pinson, AL. King’s last position was Fire Lieutenant/Administrative Officer of the City of Tarrant Fire Dept. King has many certifications, including Fire Fighter, Fire Instructor, and Fire Inspector. King is presently attending the National Fire Academy in the Executive Fire Officer Program.
Kelley is thankful for his time that he served as Director. “I just want to thank the people of Winston County for allowing me to serve as EMA Director,” he said. “I appreciate the help from the fire departments as well as the city and county officials. I could not have done anything without them.”
Considering this as his “third” retirement, Kelley hopes to spend more time with his grandchildren. He also plans on still helping out at the EMA office whenever needed. Winston County is proud to say goodbye to a devoted employee of their county.