The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 5, 2014

Our Readers Speak — Wednesday, March 5, 2014

New mayor’s actions are surprising to reader

I was quite surprised at the mayor’s decision to terminate the position of Emergency Operations Coordinator for Beckley. As a member of the Beckley Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) since its inception, I have been impressed with how far its director, Kevin Taylor, has taken the team in the short time he has been in position.

Taylor initiated the program much through grant sources that, I feel certain, incurred minimal expense to the city of Beckley relative to the depth and breadth of community involvement and expertise the program brings to the table. Purely volunteer driven, Taylor recruited applicants for the program that represent a cross-section of Beckley citizens, coordinated detailed training for recruits and monthly follow-up training on timely topics for team members, and involved the CERT team in various city activities.

In addition to providing leadership to the CERT, Taylor has also written numerous grants supplementing city coffers. Beckley just received $30,000 from the West Virginia Broadband Assistance program to develop a smartphone application for disaster response. We have Taylor to thank for that, as well as for thousands of dollars of equipment that will benefit the city in a disaster. While I have no figures on the exact amount he has received for the city, I’ll wager it exceeds his salary.

And while I recognize and can appreciate the mayor’s decision, per a recent Register-Herald article, was based upon the redundancy of the duties between Taylor and the County 911 coordinator, I still question if the decision might have been made in haste.

Raleigh County is large, multi-faceted and growing. Beckley will most likely be the hub of that growth. Rural Raleigh county communities need attention also and I can’t envision one person, however talented they might be, effectively handling all the details and planning involved in emergency response.

A position like Taylor’s is not needed until it is needed — and then it’s too late. As a CERT team member, I have been extremely impressed with Taylor’s leadership skills and felt Beckley was lucky to have him. If I were city manager, I wouldn’t want to lose him.

Eve West