By Daniel Brunty The Winston County Journal
With the retirement of Clarence Kelley as Emergency Management Agency Director, Winston County is excited to bring in William T. “Buddy” King to replace him in this position.
King is looking forward to his position and tells a little of his background, which has ties to Winston County. “My dad was born and raised in Winston County around Crystal Ridge,” King said. “In about 1960 he moved to Birmingham to get a job with the railroad. I was born and raised in Birmingham. Right after high school and joined the army, where I spent three years being a crew chief on helicopters. I then left the army and started being a firefighter.”
King also gave some background on his education. “For firefighting, I went on to school and got my Bachelor’s degree in Public Safety Administration,” King said. “After that, I worked as a fireman for 25 years.”
With his background experience being in firefighting, King’s transition to becoming the EMA is a work in progress, and he is looking forward to the challenge. “Really I am still learning the position,” King said. “I got a lot to learn. I think the best thing to do is to hang out and learn what the people of the county want.”
Changes in the department will not be immediate, as King will take the time to familiarize himself with his new position. “The probably won’t be many changes for the first two or three months,” King said. “Sometimes people are worried about change. I don’t think there is anything to change, however, for the first two or three months. Once we see what the people want and need, then the process of trying to make those things happens occurs then.”
The position of the EMA Director requires that they work closely with county and city official. King is excited about the prospect of working with them. “Besides working close with them, I want to speak to both of them openly and honestly and seeing where their goals and missions meet. We want to see if we can align them to where they can see that they have a lot more in common than they have in difference. We can then kind of develop a consensus between the two to where they can give the citizens the best service possible.”
King will also serve as the Fire Coordinator for the county, which is the liaison between the local fire departments and the county, as well as the state. King’s firefighting background will help prepare him for this role. “I know all the trials and how difficult it can be sometimes to provide services with limited budget,” King said. “Being an administrative officer of a municipal fire department, which I handled budgetary matters and interacted with the mayor and city council, I saw these difficulties first hand.”
King believes firmly that the best way to give the people what they want and need is to have a collective effort by the residents and officials to communicate ideas and exchange those to reach the goal of taking care of the county during disasters and catastrophic events. “In order to give the best services, we need everyone that can volunteer,” King said. “ I noticed in the paper the other week that Louisville Fire Department is seeking volunteers. If anyone has something they want to give back to the community, they should.”
King feels like the best way to serve the people is to listen to the people. “The most important thing I would like to do right now as far as my position is to get out and meet people,” King said. “I want to see what their needs are and hopefully meet everyone’s needs.”
With most people feeling like they cannot affect their government, King wants the people of Winston County to get involved and not feel like they are separate. “We don’t want the people to feel like the government is a separate body,” King said. “The people of the county are the government, and we want them to know we are here to give them what they need first and do it more efficiently and provide them things to raise their families and have a good experience in the community.”
If you have any ideas or suggestions for the EMA, or have any questions, you may contact the Emergency Management Agency of Winston County.