Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Baldwin County EMA director search restarting

BAY MINETTE, Ala. — The Baldwin County Commission will revisit resumes from a pool of applicants for the County Emergency Management Agency director’s post and determine Tuesday how to proceed with a selection after the abrupt resignation of Karen Blackwood, who was interviewed and hired Friday.

Blackwood abruptly resigned the $97,000-a-year post Sunday, citing concerns about a six-month interim contract and year-to-year contract renewal.

During a Commission meeting today, Commissioner Charles “Skip” Gruber said the county’s recent decision to change from a four-year contract cycle to one year was a stumbling block for recruiting department heads.

“All former directors had four-year contracts,” Gruber told commissioners. “To not allow that makes us head down the wrong avenue. Until we change our mindset, we will continue to have this kind of backlash.”

Commissioner Tucker Dorsey agreed.

“If we want excellent people, we need an excellent environment with job security,” he said.

Commission Chairman Frank Burt said Blackwood was aware of the contract’s time frame, and “understood in advance what the contract was.”

Commissioner Bob James earlier said the initial six-month term was to bring all department heads to the same annual contract renewal date coinciding with the yearly rotation of the commission chairman.

“Due to the unreliable nature of contract employment and the historical issues with the director’s position, this situation does not allow for the stability that I needed for my family,” Blackwood stated in an e-mail.

Seventy-one candidates from across the nation applied for the job. Commissioners collectively chose six candidates for interview last week. Two of the six pulled out of the mix before scheduled interview

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