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More emergencies drive new department formation

  Plumas County may soon have a new department — the Department of Emergency Management and Environmental Health.

  “This would be catching up the administrative structure with the day-to-day reality,” Jerry Sipe told the Board of Supervisors during its May 14 meeting.

  Sipe is both the county’s environmental health director and its director of the office of emergency services. Both are divisions of the Plumas County Public Health Agency.

  Sipe’s proposal would create a new department independent of public health, though the two entities would continue to work together.

  “It doesn’t matter where we are housed, we will still have the same relationship,” Sipe said.

  Mimi Hall, the county’s director of public health, said she had no objections to the plan.

  “Jerry’s proposal is really a good idea,” Hall said.

  The supervisors gave Sipe responsibility for the office of emergency services in September 2010 and since then Sipe has been devoting an increasing amount of his time to those duties.

  He cited the Chips Fire, localized flooding in December 2012 and the January Rich Bar hazmat incident as recent examples.

  By combining environmental health and emergency services into one department, Sipe said he would have the flexibility to cross-train employees and better utilize staff.

  “I absolutely support it,” Supervisor Sherrie Thrall said of the proposal. “It’s well overdue.”

  The supervisors approved the formation of the new department in concept, but County Counsel Craig Settlemire said more work needed to be done, such as creation of a job description and contract for Sipe.

  When those items are developed, the idea will come back to the supervisors for final approval.


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