The Jackson County Commission appointed Paul Smith as the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency Director at its meeting Monday afternoon. Smith served as EMA Deputy Director for 18 months, and he will take over for his predecessor Felix Jackson, who passed away unexpectedly last week.
“It’s the job I never wanted,” said Smith. “But it’s the job I feel like I need to finish.”
Commission chairman Tim Guffey said appointing Smith was a “no brainer.” He said no one would be able to come in on day one and do the job like Smith.
“He’s going to do an amazing job,” said Guffey. “He is very intelligent, and he has a lot of experience in that type of work.”
Smith said he and Jackson worked hand in hand on most of the projects the EMA has going on right now. Smith said he would have hated to see someone with a different mission of agenda steer those projects in a different direction.
“I have an idea of where (Jackson) wanted to go with this, and I just want to see it carried through,” said Smith.
The EMA received some hazard mitigation grant money to get five more storm shelters. Smith said the shelters will add another storm shelter to each of the kindergarten through 12th grade high schools and will give the county five new storm shelters. He said the EMA has been looking for ways to pay for things they do not have the money to pay for by applying for grants.
Smith said he would do his best to follow through with what Jackson had planned for the EMA. He said all he could do was follow through with Jackson’s long-term plan.
“I feel like Ray Perkins following Bear Bryant,” said Smith. “I can’t live up to that.”
Smith worked as deputy and investigator for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office for 19 years before accepting the EMA Deputy Director position. Before that he worked as a Bridgeport police officer.
Smith said he is “here for the long haul.” He has lived in Jackson County all his life and said he plans on being EMA director until the commission does not want him to do it anymore.