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Monroe Emergency Management operating without a director

Officials with the Monroe County Emergency Management office now admit the office has operated without a director since October 31st.

Former director John Hooker announced in mid-September he was leaving after the Emergency Management Advisory Council told him they’d lost confidence in his abilities as director. A selection committee has yet to find a replacement for Hooker, instead relying on Hooker’s administrative assistant, Jessica Renn, to run the department.

“Thankful enough we haven’t had any emergencies occur, but the secretary in there, his administrative assistant, has been keeping up with the paperwork.”

That’s James Davis, Chairman of the Emergency Management Advisory Council. While Renn assisted Hooker for five years, she says she only received her Professional Emergency Management certification this week. The state requires the certification to reimburse counties for a portion of directors’ salaries. Renn says she’s been working on earning the certification for two years. Davis says Renn has mostly been responsible for keeping paperwork up to date, not handling emergency management situations.

“Well we haven’t had any floods, tornados, no terrorism or anything like that that’s occurred that really required the assistance of the emergency management director,” Davis said.

Davis says if a crisis situation arises under Renn’s watch, he’s confident emergency management directors from other counties would lend their help to Monroe County. He says the emergency management selection committee has chosen a candidate for the position and will present their choice to the County Commissioners, who will consider the candidate during their December 19th meeting. Hooker’s replacement could be named soon after, although Renn says she’s been operating the emergency management office as if there’s been no timetable for Hooker’s replacement.

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