Thursday, Apr 12, 2012
Arkansas Department of Emergency Management
Lt. Governor's Column
By Lieutenant Governor Mark A. Darr
While Governor Beebe is in China on an economic development mission, I have the honor of being your Acting Governor.
Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) at Camp Robinson. With storm season upon us, I wanted to meet with the people who are responsible for coordinating the state's response, should we get hit. I was given an overview of the agency's primary responsibilities and capabilities by their director, David Maxwell, and toured the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). What an impressive facility and staff.
The EOC maintains a sophisticated network of communications and information streams. It is manned 24 hours a day. They monitor radio, television, and internet communications, weather reports, road conditions and transportation disruptions, earthquakes, hazmat reports, power outages, fire conditions, and any threats that may come from criminal or terrorist activity. They are responsible for coordinating information, planning and response for homeland security with various local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. The director serves as the Governor's Homeland Security Advisor.
Director Maxwell has served with the agency for 32 years. Many other employees there have likewise devoted their careers to public service at ADEM. Dedicated and professional, the people of ADEM work tirelessly for our state and deserve our sincere gratitude. Responding to natural disasters and other events as well as training first responders all over the state - their mission is vital to saving people's lives.
This agency plays an essential role in our state. When weather events and natural disasters hit, they are on the ground. They also respond to chemical spills and incidents involving hazardous materials. They train firefighters, law enforcement, medical personnel, contingency planners, elected officials, and volunteers.
While l was there, I noticed a wall full of pictures of natural disasters that had hit Arkansas over the years. I saw one from the Greenwood tornado in 1968 near where I grew up. Another picture was from the Arkadelphia tornado in 1997 that hit while I was in college at OBU. Whenever things like that happen in Arkansas, people from ADEM are on the ground to help. We can't thank them enough for what they do.
In closing, I would like to offer a word of remembrance for two Arkansans who recently passed away.
W.R. "Bud" Harper served as Sebastian County Judge for 16 years, the first Republican elected to that office, and was Director of the Arkansas of Emergency Management under Governor Huckabee. He was a man of faith and integrity and I am proud to have known him.
Len Everette Blaylock, Sr. was a veteran of World War II and served for 20 years in the United States Air Force. Active in his church and community, he worked as a businessman, rancher, and educator. He went on to work in politics and sought to further a two-party system in Arkansas. In 1972, he ran for governor as a Republican against Senator Dale Bumpers. He also served in the administrations of Governor Rockefeller and Governor White and was appointed to be a U.S. Marshall by President Ford. He led a full life. He will be missed.