A veteran of the Cookeville Fire Department is the new Interim Emergency Management Agency Director in White County.
Stanley Neal began work July 1. County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson said he felt White County was fortunate to have an experienced person to accept the role.
“He’s been in that world and been in that business,” Robinson said. “He knows what to do and what to expect. So, he was a logical person to fill that position.”
Robinson said he is looking forward to having someone in the position to help him stay up-to-date on the rules and regulations surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“(COVID) is the big thing right now,” Robinson said. “And there’s so much unknown. There’s supplies out there and grants out there, and honestly I can’t keep up with that and what’s going on the the county, too. It’s great to have somebody there that can just dive in and spend 100-percent of their time on the PPE and the policies and procedures. This stuff changes almost daily. It’s great to have somebody that can decipher all that and report back to me and the County Commission.”
Neal takes over for the previous Interim Director, Suzi Cash Haston, who is also the county’s 911 Director. The The White County EMA Director is a non-paid, volunteer position. Robinson said the county would like to turn it into a paid position, but the economic impact of COVID has put that on hold. With Neal also serving as a White County Commissioner, it would be a conflict of interest for him to receive a salary, anyway.
“COVID has kind of put that stuff on hold,” Robinson said. “Mr. Neal stepped up and volunteered his time. Being a County Commissioner, also, number one, it wouldn’t be ethical for us to pay him to do that. And, number two, him seeing the numbers and seeing how it worked, that was another place he felt like he could serve the county.
In a lot of ways, Robinson said he feels like having Neal take over was like finding the right person and the right time.
“It was a great opportunity for both of us,” Robinson said. “He stepped in just at a perfect time.”
Robinson said Neal is only expecting to hold the position short-term as White County looks for a permanent solution for the position. Long-time EMA Director Jimmy Savage who retired in April.