Concerns over filling the McCracken County’s vacant emergency management director seat were the fiscal court’s main topic during Monday evening’s meeting.

With the retirement of former director Jerome Mansfield effective at the end of the 2020 calendar year, the county has been searching for his successor for some time.

A chief concern about filling the director position was the $50,000 salary.

“We have a real issue with the pay. There is a concern as to getting someone with the experience, training, qualifications that we might want for that director position (for that pay),” Judge-Executive Craig Clymer said. “That appears to be a salary level that will not attract someone that has been in that position and has the training and experience that we would prefer.”

A new salary level is needed to make the position competitive on the open market, said Deputy Judge-Executive Steve Doolittle.

Mansfield came to the position in 2014 after retiring as an emergency management specialist from USEC’s operations at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in 2010.

“The county has done a pretty good job of finding retirees to take jobs and not demand what I would describe as a competitive salary. This time it didn’t work,” Doolittle said. “I could very much tell in speaking with (applicants) that even though they were retirees they didn’t much feel like donating their resources at $50,000.”

“It’s a good size job that requires considerable skill and experience to do. If we’re hopeful in recruiting someone to the position, the pay will have to be better.”

The court unanimously agreed to authorize a salary of up to $75,000 for candidates, depending on qualifications.

The director position is particularly important moving forward with the area’s COVID-19 response, Clymer noted, referencing conversations with Purchase Area Health District Director Kent Koster and Jeremy Buchanan, Purchase Area Development District executive director.

“It’s not been any one person or any one organization that seems to be in charge of (the vaccine rollout). It looks like it’s going to be placed on Kentucky Emergency Management,” he said. “I’m assuming that means that the local EM directors will have a large part in this. Our interim emergency management director (April Watson) may have just fallen out of her chair (after hearing that).”

Regarding other vaccine matters, Clymer said a site for a mass vaccination is currently being sought in western Kentucky. He believes it will be in McCracken County. Additionally, as vaccine distribution continues, Paducah Mayor George Bray has offered to establish a phone bank for local vaccine-related matters.

“We’ve still got to plan it and organize it,” Bray told the Sun following the fiscal court meeting, “but we are working on it. We’ve got to put our best foot forward.”

Bray hopes this hotline can be used to arrange vaccine appointments and coordinate vaccination efforts. He hopes to launch it in as soon as three weeks.

In other court happenings:

• A $100,000 grant was approved for Sprocket — a local technology nonprofit — to meet the budgetary needs for its Codefi project, which will put a “a business incubator on steroids” in the Coke Plant, Commissioner Eddie Jones said. The $1.2 million project has also received funds from the city of Paducah and the McCracken County Public Library, among other entities.

• The court set aside $25,000 for professional services as they seek to further develop Carson Park, increasing its utility beyond agriculture, horse and fair-related events. Jones is hoping they increase its usefulness as a recreational destination. “I think it deserves more investment,” he said. “I think the neighbors believe it deserves more investment from us. There is a lot more we could do to it to make it available and useful to a lot more people.”

• Commissioner Jeff Parker and Commissioner Eddie Jones were reappointed to their positions on the Government Affairs Taskforce of Greater Paducah Economic Development.

• December’s Transient Room Tax totals — collected from stays in local hotels and motels — were announced. The Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau received $57,764.84, the McCracken County Sports Tourism Commission received $61,094.49, the Paducah-McCracken County Convention & Expo Center received $39,622.00 and $40,727.44 will be put in the escrow fund. This makes a total of $199,208.77.

The next meeting of the McCracken County Fiscal Court will be on Jan. 25.

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