Is One Better Than Two?

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Volunteer firefighters came to the supervisors work session to protest a rumor that Bunky Partridge, Meridian's director of Homeland Security, might be put in charge of Lauderdale Emergency management Agency, or LEMA.

"What we heard was that the county had contacted Clarence Butler and said that he was going to be replaced with another individual. Lauderdale County volunteer fire departments would like things to stay as is. Nothing to change," said Clarence Butler, LEMA's current director and coordinator for the volunteer fire departments.

 "The Volunteer Firemen are the volunteers of this county and they don't want nothing to do with Bunky Partridge," said District 5 supervisor ray Boswell. 

Reportedly, the supervisors approached the city and suggested a single emergency management system with a new fulltime director. No decision has been made on the director and as yet, no such agreement has been signed. Butler was, and is, director of the volunteer fire departments at a salary of $37,600.

Two years ago, Butler was given the added duties with LEMA and a $10,900 supplement. Butler was cautioned at the meeting by District 2 supervisor Jimmie Smith.

"I don't think the board has made that decision and until the board makes that decision I think you have to be real careful about stirring this stuff up," said Smith. 

Supervisor Eddie Harper expressed his opinion about having two separate emergency management operations.

"The way it is set up right now, as far as Meridian and Lauderdale County goes, if we have a disaster in Lauderdale County, whether it be in the city, in the county or both, the two agencies that are in place right now in my eyes cannot work together. It's got to change," Harper said. 

The supervisors may meet with the volunteer fire chiefs soon and discuss the possible plan.