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PEMA: County hiring process right on target

LOCK HAVEN — “We are doing it right,” Clinton County Commissioner Jeff Snyder stated emphatically at the commissioners’ work session Monday, referring to the process the county is going through to fill emergency services director and emergency management coordinator positions, due to the recent resignations of Kevin Fanning and Bill Frantz.

Andrew Kremser was hired in April as the new EMS director and is presently completing his certification work. As for the emergency management coordinator, County Commissioner Miles Kessinger said there are about 40 applicants and interviews are expected to begin soon.

The process of filling these positions has been criticized by local resident Kevin Ferrara at several recent meetings, with Feerrar saying he is suing the county because the new EMS director has not completed training and is not qualified and the county’s Communication Center is not capable of handling a disaster should one occur. Ferrara also said he has information from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) to back up his allegations.

Armed with a letter from PEMA’s Director, David R. (Randy) Padfield, the commissioners said the county is doing everything correctly in filling the positions.

“We’re going to put this to rest once and for all,” Commissioner Miles Kessinger said, asking Commissioner Angela Harding to read a letter from Padfield. The letter reads:

“We do not issue letters for individuals who are in an interim status, and only process requests through to the Governor’s Office for official appointment once we receive official written notice of appointment of an Emergency Management Coordinator from the county. It is really up to the county regarding who they would like to hire for a position. We just set the requirements, which do not need to met before hiring since we allow a period of time for individuals to achieve their training and certification. This is done to provide counties flexibility to fill the position with the best candidates, regardless of whether they meet the requirements at the time of the interview.

“However, I would offer the following information:

“We (PEMA) are aware that Mr. (Andrew) Kremser was hired as the Clinton County Director of Emergency Services and is recognized as the interim Emergency Management Coordinator by the county until the position can be filled, which is anticipated to occur in the near future.

“As a matter of process we (PEMA) deploy a qualified Liaison Officer to any county which is significantly impacted from a disaster or other emergency. This individual would work with Mr. Kremser as the interim Emergency Management Coordinator to assist in coordinating any local response and recovery efforts to assure those efforts are efficient and effective.

“Should the need arise, we also have the ability to deploy our state All-Hazards Incident Management Team (AHIMT) to a county to assist in further coordination efforts in conjunction with county officials if the size and complexity of an incident requires additional trained incident management personnel to manage.

“Our staff has been involved with the county as they look to hire a new Emergency Management Coordinator and has reviewed the revised Emergency Management Coordinator job description. The job description was well developed and is in-line with the requirements set by our agency for Emergency Management Coordinators in the Commonwealth, so we would not anticipate the county having any issues with filling the position with a qualified candidate. Once a successful candidate is chosen our staff will continue to work with the county to on-board the individual and complete any remaining requirements they would need.

“I hope the above information is helpful. Should you receive any specific inquiries we’d be more than happy to address those to the extent possible to assure the residents of Clinton County that there will be no impact to the level of response they receive should a disaster or emergency occur while you look to officially fill the open Emergency Management Coordinator position.”

Snyder said there have been a lot of statements and untruths, and the Central Area of PEMA office said “they have never heard of Kevin Feerrar… they’re not aware of him.”

“The 911 center is very important to us. We have been working with PEMA and we have done it right,” Snyder continued.

Harding said, “The commissioners take the safety of our residents very seriously. There were questions about the process so we reached out to PEMA and we received a response that said we are doing the right thing.”

Ferrara sent a message via live stream saying, “You need to talk to the right people Snyder. I’m pursing legal action against Clinton County.”

The commissioners noted that their voting meeting on Thursday will be held at 6:30 p.m. and will be live-streamed, as the commissioner continue to meet bi-weekly, with a work session on Mondays. Also, there will be no commissioners meeting on Aug. 17, as the commissioners will have a virtual meeting with the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania that day.

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