Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 22, 2014

Stever hired as emergency management administrator

By DIANE VANCE, Ledger staff writer | Jun 20, 2014
LEDGER FILE PHOTO JOE STEVER

The Jefferson County Emergency Management Commission approved hiring Fairfield native Joe Stever as the new emergency management administrator, beginning July 1.

Former administrator Jerry Calnon has retired due to health. Jefferson County jail administrator Mike Simons and Sheriff Gregg Morton have been working as interim mangers.

“We interviewed 10 eligible applicants and narrowed that down to four top candidates,” said Fairfield Police Chief Julie Harvey. “Joe Stever, from Waste Management, was our unanimous top pick.

“We asked candidates questions about technology, what would be an emergency management administrator’s biggest challenges and how effectively he or she would communicate with the public,” she said.

Fairfield Fire Chief Scott Vaughan on the interview committee with Harvey said he made notes about the candidates.

“I wrote that Joe Stever listens and is level-headed,” he said.

Harvey added that Stever has a vested interest in the community.

“He grew up here and started working for his dad with Stever Waste Management before he graduated high school,” she said. “He went to college and taught for a year out in South Dakota. He returned to Fairfield because this is where he wants to raise his family.

“He’s an administrator at Waste Management and has taught other employees on the job. He has created efficiencies and streamlined procedures there,” said Harvey.

“He was the candidate that understood he won’t be in charge during an emergency or disaster, but acts rather as a facilitator,” she said.

Jefferson County supervisor Lee Dimmitt, the county’s representative on the Emergency Management Commission, told committee members he trusts their judgment.

“But I have to ask; are you comfortable with hiring an administrator with no emergency management experience?” said Dimmitt.

Morton said none of the candidates had direct emergency management experience.

“Joe is smart enough and can figure things out,” said Harvey. “We did ask candidates to describe experiences in handling large events.

“Our first priority with him will be to meet with all the stakeholders and getting him certification and training,” said Harvey.

“He told us after he gets in the job he wants to take an inventory of all the resources and equipment available in the county, including from private industries and businesses,” she said. “I like the way he thinks.”

Morton explained that at a certain level of disaster, governmental agencies can ask for private entities to lend equipment for use in mitigating disasters.

“Mike [Simons] has stepped in and smoothed out the business in the office,” said Morton. “Mike has done a great job here and applied for grants and will stay on during the transition to Joe.”

Morton and Simons said they each know a lot more about the job than they had previously.

Simons said there was one drawback to hiring Stever; he is contracted to Waste Management until next April.

“He said he could work early hours at Waste Management and also be here,” said Harvey. “He sets his own hours there.”

Commission member Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy asked if working part time as an emergency management administrator would be better for Stever through next April if he is still contracted to work at Waste Management.

“I don’t want an emergency management director who is exhausted from working two jobs,” he said.

Harvey said Stever had indicated he could work two or three full days a week at the law enforcement office of the emergency management administrator while still working at Waste Management.

The EMA is set up to work 20 hours per work as emergency management and 20 hours a week as the 911 administrator.

“It doesn’t always work out exactly 20/20 per week,” said Morton. “This position is not a county employee but is hired by the Emergency Management Commission.”

Stever’s starting annual salary covering both positions is $43,275 and includes Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement benefits but no medical insurance benefits.

Morton said this morning Stever accepted the commission’s offer.

“He won’t officially begin until July 1, the new fiscal year, but he’s coming in Monday to attend a Webinar training,” said Morton.

Commission members discussed how frequently it should meet.

“I think we should meet quarterly for now and the new EMA should visit all the city councils and attend a board of supervisors meeting to meet everyone and learn what’s going on,” said Dimmitt. “We need to keep the lines of communication open.”

Morton said the EMA would have an open door policy.

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