Howard leaves Dallas County: Colleagues, friends bid farewell to EMA Director

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Today, a county chair sits vacant.

Wednesday was Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Brett Howard’s last day at work. After serving five years as director, Howard is moving home to Pike County to work with the state EMA where he will be over a seven county area.

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“It’s been happy and sad all at the same time,” Howard said of his last day.

An informal reception was held in Howard’s honor on Wednesday afternoon. Pam Cook, EMA deputy director and Rhonda Abbott, EMA administrative assistant, organized the event, which included two large sheet cakes adorned with an outline of Dallas County.

“They did a good job, and I appreciate it,” Howard said.

Although it was his last work day, Howard still did the payroll and today at 8 a.m., he started his new job.

“I’ve worked for some good people and I’ve had some good people working for me,” Howard said. “It’s going to be hard to leave them.”

Former Probate Judge Johnny Jones was present, along with current Probate Judge Kim Ballard.

“It’s been a good ride with you,” Ballard said. “We’ve weathered the storms.”

Also in attendance was Dick Bean of E-911.

“He served with distinction,” Bean said.

Bean presented Howard with a resolution “for all he’s done for Dallas County.”

Valley Grande Mayor Tom Lee and Virginia Webb, Valley Grande city clerk, joined the festivities and said goodbye to Howard.

“He’s been super for us,” Lee said.

Howard assisted Valley Grande in getting their weather siren and getting the paperwork filed for a storm shelter.

“Dallas County is going to miss Brett,” Abbott said. “He’s a hard worker.”

Visually Impaired Persons (VIP) President William Bowman expressed his gratitude for all Howard has done for VIPs. According to Bowman, Howard was instrumental in helping him develop a project to aid persons with disabilities. The EMA has compiled a list of such persons and when a storm is approaching, they get a phone call from the EMA office giving them time to make safety preparations.

“He looked out for people who couldn’t look out for themselves,” Bowman said.

Garland Hardy of the Plantersville Volunteer Fire Department said Howard “did more his first six months as EMA Director than had been done 30 or 40 years before.”

Many people have said that whomever takes Howard’s place will have some big shoes to fill. Until that time, Cook will fill in.

“I am the interim director,” she said.

Howard’s family rallied around him at the reception – daughters Abby, Jordan, Kelly Grace and wife Karmen. His son Judson was unable to attend.