Daniel Cole

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Deputy appointed to director’s post held by late boss

 By Billy Davis

Panola County supervisors on Monday elevated Daniel Cole to head the Emergency Management office following the September 26 death of its director.

“I would rather it be under different circumstances,” Cole told supervisors, referring to the automobile accident that took the life of William “Son” Hudson.

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Supervisors also agreed to begin a search for the deputy director post Cole had held.

In addition to Hudson’s director post, supervisors said Cole’s other titles would include E-911 director, county fire coordinator, Homeland Security coordinator, and Census director.

The Emergency Management office is more commonly known as civil defense. The agency may be best known for disaster response but also coordinates with the Miss. Emergency Management office, acts as a liaison for fire departments, and cooperates with the mammoth Homeland Security federal agency.

Cole, 33, was working as a full-time Batesville firefighter when supervisors hired him in October 2005. Hudson had requested the hiring of a deputy to help with the numerous “hats” he wore as director.

When Hudson died, Cole had already been shouldering more responsibilities at the county office as Hudson, who was 65, was nearing retirement.

“Daniel is, without question, qualified to handle this job,” said Supervisor Gary Thompson during board discussion.

Regarding the hiring of a deputy director, Thompson suggested immediately posting the job opening for seven days at the county courthouses in Batesville and Sardis. The hiring could be done by November, he said.

That suggestion led to a discussion over starting salary, raised by Thompson, and minimum qualifications, raised by Supervisor Kelly Morris.

Cole gave supervisors a list of suggested qualifications that included “first responder” experience, knowledge of the Incident Command System for submitting incident reports, and knowledge of grant writing among other requirements.

Before the job opening is posted, “I think you might want to tune up the process,” board attorney Bill McKenzie told the board.

Supervisors seconded that advice and voted to table any action until their Second District meeting next Monday.

In other county business:

•Supervisors approved a fee increase for doctor examinations of possible mental commitments.

The demand for a per-visit fee increase, from $35 to $65, was presented Monday by Chancery Clerk Jim Pitcock. Local doctors had demanded the fee increase, he said.  

The chancery court system oversees hearings for mental commitments.

Pitcock had alerted supervisors about the fee request in past months, and the topic was addressed during budget hearings.

•Responding to a request from Quitman County supervisors, the board authorized road manager Lygunnah Bean to submit an estimate of $5,866.35 as payment for repaving the Quitman County airport.

The sum includes $3,050.15 for labor costs and one-half of the $5,632.40 estimated for equipment use and fuel costs.

•Supervisors unanimously voted down a road abandonment request by landowners on dead-end Haire Road.

“I think we’re opening up a can of worms,” said Supervisor Bubba Waldrup, who made the board motion to deny the request.

•Supervisors formally approved an application to seek a CAP loan from the state of Mississippi. The loan authorizes the county to borrow up to $1 million for the new industrial park near the county airport.

•Supervisors appointed Vernice Avant to a board of directors seat at North Delta Planning. Her late husband, Supervisor Robert Avant, had served on the board.