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By BOB SHRALUKA
There was a time when the thinking here said that disaster planning was something of a bureaucratic thing, something to occupy the time of all the government wonks and pencil pushers.
You know, the folks in those jobs that pay well but demand little. Draw up lots of maps, put together some impressive Power Points, and attend lots and lots of meetings. Shazam! We have a plan!
Eran Hackman, a top — and busy — aide at the Adams County Emergency Managemetmt Agency (EMA), showed up at a recent Decatur City Council meeting to discuss making plans to cope with a disaster which just might occur here. Disaster? Here? Aw, waste of time.
Uh huh. And then ... and then she said what came across here as the magic word: Henryville. Yeh, Henryville, the small southern Indiana town nearly wiped off the map by a tornado. And that immediately triggered other thoughts: Joplin ... Katrina ... Sandy.
It takes but a small bit of serious thought to realize that if it can happen there it certainly can happen here. Like, why not?
In January, Hackman will begin working with City of Decatur department heads — with whom she's already had preliminary meetings — on implementation of a COOP/COG plan, which stands for Continuity of Operation, Continuity of Government. It's going to take a couple of years to put together, but when completed the plan will allow the city to provide at least some services in the event of a major disaster — a disaster none of us wants to think about.
But in the wake of what's been going on in recent years, the idea to plan to be able to provide some services is, at its heart, simply common sense.
Not everything, but...
"You can't plan for everything, but it helps to have some ideas, some plans," Hackman said this week.
She is already deeply into setting up a COOP/COG plan for county departments, and eventually will get to other communities in the county, such as Berne, Monroe and Geneva.
County departments are scheduled to have draft plans ready by the end of this month, "then next year we'll do some table-top exercises," Hackman explained. "It could possibly be another year before they are done."
So when do you move on to other communities? "Probably once we get Decatur started; maybe in six months or so," Eran replied.
"John (August, county EMA director) gave me this project," Hackman said. "I worked with some people in Allen County. They had gone through the process and were very helpful,"
If she is intimidated by all the work that lies ahead, Hackman doesn't express it. The cooperation she has received is appreciated. Leadership at the top is crucial, and the EMA official has been getting that.
"The cooperation has been very good. And I realize people are busy and finding time isn't easy for them," Hackman said. "The (county) commissioners have been very supportive. Mayor (John) Schultz has, too. I just met with him again the other day "
It's an idea whose time has arrived.
Losing a good cop
It is with considerable regret that we here at the newspaper lament the upcoming resignation of "Keebie" Meyer as chief deputy at the Adams County Sheriff's Department. We're a tad bit selfish since, for all of us here, Keebie was a great contact.
Need some information, give Kebbie a call; if he doesn't know the particulars, he'll find out what he can for you.
Beyond that, however, is the bottom line: Eric (Keebie) Meyer has been a damn good cop, starting as a patrolman with the city police over 30 years ago and working his way up to detective. After a failed and disheartening mayoral bid, he returned to what he does best, joining the sheriff's department.
Sheriff Shane Rekeweg saw in Keebie the qualities he was looking for and, while still a candidate for sheriff, announced that if elected his chief deputy would be Meyer.
So while we hate to lose our precious contact, we wish the guy nothing but the best, hoping he can adjust — ha ha — to all that sunshine and warm weather and beach time and ... well, it's for sure he won't be shoveling snow.