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— Marshal Watson, director of Benton County’s Department of Emergency Management resigned Tuesday after seven years with the county.

He begins a new job Jan. 14 in Rogers as emergency management director for the city, a new position.

Watson helped the county receive more than $2 million in grants used to beef up emergency communication, fire protection servicesand to purchase a mobile command unit.

“One of the things I am most proud of are the partnerships I have been able to build throughout the community,” Watson said, noting the partnerships will bring resources together in the event of a disaster.

The partnerships include those between the county and NorthWest Arkansas Community College, the Institute for Corporate Public Safety and Wal-Mart Emergency Management, Watson said.

Watson “has been a good emergency coordinator for the county and he will be missed,” County Judge Dave Bisbee said. The county will filling the position as soon as possible, he said.

“When you have good employees, you hate to have to replace them, but I am going to try to replace him with someone of an equal caliber,” Bisbee said.

“I am ecstatic to be able to pick up a man of his (Watson’s) experience and qualifications. It is a great thing for the city of Rogers,” saidMayor Steve Womack.

Watson’s “is an area of expertise we do not have on staff and we are about to fix that problem,” Womack said.

“When the ice storm hit (in January), the first person I called was Marshal Watson and he gave me the chapter and verse to ensure what we had to do to get Rogers cleaned up and reimbursed by FEMA,” Womack said. The city had one of the fastest cleanup periods and reimbursements in the state, he said.

City Treasurer Jerry Hudlow is Watson’s father-in-law. Womack said the relationship didn’t play any role in the decision to hire Watson. “Marshal Watson was hired on Marshal Watson’s background and qualifications and not on who he is related to,” Womack said.

Watson will be supervised by Fire Chief Tom Jenkins, Womack said.

One of Watson’s duties will be writing what Womack calls the bible of how the city will respond to emergencies.

Hiring emergency management directors “is a direction that all cities better be headed in because you do not know the time, date and situation when you will have an emergency,” Womack said.

Jimmy Thompson, president of the Benton County Fire Association, said Watson will be missed at the county level.

Watson “is a knowledgeable person who you can give a phone call to and you know it is going to get done,” Thompson said. “I am sick because he is leaving.”

News, Pages 21 on 12/16/2009

Print Headline: Benton County emergency director resigns position

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