Mississippi Chief Resigns for State Emergency Role

After years of being wooed by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Bolivar County Emergency Operations Center Director Kent Buckley has resigned.

Buckley handed in his resignation to the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors at the Monday meeting.

"It is with much consideration that I have decided to leave a job that has been my life for the past 17 years," he said. "Over these years I have come to love my job, staff and fellow Emergency Management counterparts here and all over the state. Because of all the experiences I have been through and all the lessons I have learned from here, I am able to go forward and accept a job with the agency."

He will serve as the bureau director of the Recovery Office for MEMA. He begins the new post on Sept. 1. Buckley said he did inform his superiors that he wanted to continue to do whatever he could to assist Bolivar County in keeping things running and assure a smooth transition. Interim MEMA Director Mike Womack agreed.

Buckley became involved with the Bolivar County Emergency Management in 1983.

With his resignation goes the added duties he accepted in July 1988 as the county fire coordinator. Buckley said he accepted that position because he had already been elected county fire chief of the Bolivar County Volunteer Fire Department in May 1988, and some of the new state requirements and duties mirrored the local ones.

"I accepted the extra duties with no pay mainly to reduce any confusion and duplication of effort," he said.

Buckley said he would also resign as county fire chief, a position he has loved and has been passionate about since he was elected by the Bolivar County Volunteer Fire Department membership.

"Their faith in me has been evident because I have been elected every two years since then with no opposition," he added.

Buckley was also appointed by the supervisors to serve as the Homeland Security Coordinator for the county. The added responsibility gave Buckley the opportunity to work even closer with Bolivar County Sheriff H.M. "Mack" Grimmett and other law enforcement agencies in the county on Homeland Security issues and an increased local response capability.

"This is still a coordinating duty which is not unlike the coordination of other emergency management issues," he said.

"I do hope that this board and the county continue to support our emergency services," Buckley said. "Our EOC Response Team has a good reputation and great respect around the state, including Delta K-9 Search & Rescue, which is also part of our program. Both of our search and rescue teams have worked in at least 15 other counties with federal, state and local officials through the sheriff's office and MEMA channels.

Buckley said the Bolivar County Volunteer Fire Departments carry a good reputation at the Mississippi Fire Academy.

"I get many calls from around the state about what we do and how we do it," he added.

Buckley said Bolivar County is still home to him and he will help whenever he can.

"I thank you for allowing me to serve," he said.

The supervisors appointed Lee Tedder as interim director for the Bolivar County Emergency Operation Center on Buckley's referral.

Tedder, who is the deputy director of the EOC since 1986, and brings with him over 20 years experience with the agency.

"Lee will do an excellent job," Buckley said. "He has a tremendous amount of experience and knows the county well."

The supervisors by law will have to advertise for the director's position.