Update: Washington County Commissioners close to hiring new EMA director; may combine office with 911 center

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MARIETTA, Oh.-(WTAP) Updated: 9/22/2017 5:20 P.M.

Washington County commissioners say they're close to making a hire for the soon-to-be-vacant emergency management director.

But the person of interest may keep his current job, with another county agency.

Commission President Ron Feathers tells The News Center an offer has been made to Rich Hays, a sheriff's deputy who currently manages the county's 911 center.

Glen Kelly, who was hired earlier this year, announced in August he is stepping down to become manage at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport.

If Hays takes the job, it could mean, according to Feathers, the EMA and 911 officers would merge.

That might be a concern to local volunteer fire chief, who, in the past, have been opposed to the sheriff's office overseeing emergency operations.

They have said the EMA should operate independently of law enforcement.

Feathers says financially, combining the two offices would save the county money.

A decision to hire Hays could be made at next Thursday's commission meeting.


Updated: 8/31/2017 6:50 P.M.

Reno Volunteer Fire Chief Dan Ritchey recently was quoted in a Marietta Times article, as saying outgoing Emergency Management Director Glen Kelly never met with Ritchey or any of his fellow fire chiefs.

Commissioner Ron Feathers confronted him on that statement.

"'He never made an effort to come out to work with us, to get to know the needs of the stations'," said Feathers, quoting from the newspaper article. "Why did you put that in there?"

"I told the truth...that's the truth," Ritchey responded.

"He never met with you guys?", pondered Feathers.

Ritchey claimed: "I never saw him. He came in late to the meeting, and he left early. I asked the guy behind me, 'who is he?' He said, 'that's our new EMA Director.'"

Ritchey and Kelly met separately with the commissioners Thursday, although the two briefly exchanged words outside the county courthouse.

Kelly says he met with several fire chiefs during his brief, five-month tenure, specifically in arranging a training exercise.

He says his successor should be someone who can work with other departments, including the sheriff's office.

"I appreciate, more than anybody, those who run to the fire and the fight," said Kelly, quoting partly from a letter to the editor sent to the newspaper, "because those are the people who take care of people. However, the next layer has to be the right kind of people who support that, and make sure they get the resources, to do the best job they can and take care of the citizens."

Ritchey hopes Kelly's successor is someone with a local background. He was told the right person for the job has to have an extensive background, in working not only with county officials, but with the Ohio EMA.


8/18/2017

Five months ago, Glen Kelly came to Washington County as its new emergency operations director.

Now, he's moving on to Wood County.

This week, Kelly accepted the job as manager of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport.

He replaces Jeff McDougle, who announced his retirement earlier this summer.

In the past, Kelly was Morgantown's city manager and director of that city's airport.

He would like to see Wood County's airport expand as a departure and destination point for business travelers.

"One of the special charter companies, like Allegiant or Spirit, maybe would give us an additional venue in West Virginia would like to go to," Kelly says, "to help us support business, but also the business-flying customer, because that's your primary customer."

The Mid-Ohio Valley Airport, like others in communities of its size, has faced losing Essential Air Service designation, which helps attract passenger air service, due to recent planned budget cuts from Washington, D.C.

Kelly hopes attracting more business-and private-air travel, could help offset any such losses in the future.

Kelly plans to work with McDougle before taking on the airport manager's job full-time later this fall.