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franklin county times

Butler wants answers on possible
LEMA change

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
August 3, 2004
Lauderdale County's emergency management director attended the county supervisors meeting Monday armed with one main question: Why hadn't they told him they were dissatisfied with his performance?
Clarence Butler spoke to supervisors amid growing speculation that they planned to replace him as Lauderdale County Emergency Management director with either former Meridian fire chief H.C. "Bunky" Partridge or Eddie Ivy.
Partridge is director of Meridian's Department of Homeland security. Ivy works under Partridge as the training coordinator for the Meridian/Lauderdale County Regional Response Team.
Butler also serves as the county's volunteer fire coordinator and has the title of Homeland Security officer for Lauderdale County.
District 2 Supervisor Jimmie Smith said he was concerned Butler hadn't received all the certification he was expected to earn after taking over LEMA two years ago something Butler said he continues to pursue.
Smith's concerns
Smith said Butler is doing a good job as fire coordinator.
Supervisors are seeking an agreement with the city to develop an Emergency Service District that would be made up of two supervisors and two representatives from the city to oversee LEMA operations and its director.
About 30 volunteer firefighters were at the supervisors meeting to support Butler. They said they didn't want him to be replaced and that they didn't want to work under Ivy or Partridge.
Volunteer firefighters make up about 40 percent of LEMA's nearly 70 volunteers, according to Butler. He said the rest of LEMA's volunteers are county and city residents not associated with fire departments.
Rumor mills
Supervisors blamed "rumor mills" for stirring up emotions unnecessarily.
But in an interview with Partridge after the supervisors meeting, the former city fire chief said he had discussions with city and county officials on the creation of an Emergency Service District.
Partridge said city and county officials approached him with the idea. He said he understood Butler would continue to be the volunteer fire coordinator while a LEMA director would operate under one Homeland Security officer.
Butler said he wasn't consulted by anyone regarding an Emergency Service District: "I was not part of it. They totally eliminated me."
District 1 Supervisor Eddie Harper said: "We're discussing possibilities and nothing is in stone."
District 3 Supervisor Craig Hitt suggested that once the county receives an agreement with the city on paper, and if it is something the county is interested in, a meeting will be called.
District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell said other supervisors had met behind closed doors on the matter for weeks to decide what they wanted to do. Hitt said Boswell agreed with the move by the board, but Boswell denied it.

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