Cannon County Commissioners unanimously voted Oct. 20 they have “no confidence” in Faye Morse, director of the Office of Emergency Management.
This vote was one of three actions taken by the commissioners against Morse. She was also dismissed from Cannon County’s Homeland Security Committee and County Executive Mike Gannon was told to remove her from her EMA post.
“We are telling him (Gannon) _ not asking him _ that she should be removed,” said Commissioner Jim Bush.
Morse was not present for the meeting, but she did send a letter of resignation to the commission from her post as Cannon County fire chief. Gannon was also absent and was attending a funeral.
The action on Morse followed a lengthy presentation by Roy Sullivan, director of the Cannon County 911 Emergency Communications District.
“I have major concerns with the current Cannon County Office of Emergency Management directed by Faye Morse. Being responsible for dispatching all emergency agencies in Cannon County, I personally witness the inadequate response by Cannon County Emergency Management when they are needed most,” Sullivan said.
Under the current agreement, EMA is responsible for coordination of disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery activities.
“I do not feel that Cannon County Emergency Management is currently prepared for any sort of major incident or mass casualty incident and past incidences verify this point,” Sullivan said. “Time and time again it has been a problem trying to contact EMA when they are requested.”
Sullivan said he believes the tensions between the 911 district and EMA date back to 2007 and a major auto accident near the current site of Save A-Lot grocery.
The wreck, involving a pickup truck and a tractor trailer, pinned a person in the wreckage in addition to leaking diesel fuel.
“After 20 minutes of trying to contact local EMA, I instructed dispatch to request mutual aid from Rutherford County Special operations to stop the diesel leak and keep it from going into a small creek nearby,” he said.
Rutherford County arrived about 25 minutes later and started the containment. Shortly thereafter EMA Allen Morse arrived “and wanted to know in a very agitated voice who requested Rutherford County and told him I did. He became irate and said that I needed to call the locals. I told him dispatch tried to for 20 minutes.”
Sullivan also questioned federal Homeland Security grants and equipment that been awarded to EMA.
“There has been hundreds of thousands of dollars awarded to Cannon County from Homeland Security to coordinate disaster mitigation. There has been very little structure other than documentation from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency as to where all this money has all went,” Sullivan said.
The 911 director cited examples including a mobile command unit and digital ID system for emergency responders.
“Cannon County EMA had a budget of over $13,000 for the past three years and received well over a half a million dollars in grant money. The Cannon County Rescue Squad, which is totally volunteer, has until this fiscal year, only received a little over $3,000 in county funding but you can see where every dollar has gone in that department and currently has a very impressive rescue unit. Can Cannon County EMA show where so much funding has gone?” Sullivan asked.
Of particular interest to the County Commissioners was the case of a 2006 Ford F250 pickup truck which was reported as inoperable for nearly two years with a blown engine.
“The status of this vehicle is not known for sure, but documentation shows that it was listed as a trade in on another vehicle on May 16, 2011 to a dealership inMurfreesboro. The trade in value is listed as $2,000,” Sullivan said.
But the registration on the vehicle still shows it registered to EMA with Cannon County still paying insurance on the vehicle, he said.
When County Commissioner Bush went to the dealership to inquire about the deal for the County-owned truck, he was denied any information and told if he came back he should bring an attorney.
County Commission Chairman Bob Stoetzel told his fellow commissioners that it was their responsibility to forward this Sullivan’s report and other information to the Tennessee State Comptroller’s Office for a possible investigation.
After some discussion, the commission agreed and an initial report has been turned over to the state.
The panel also votedd to abolish the current Cannon County EMA Committee. Plans are to restructure it at the next commission meeting.