Director of the Jefferson County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department Steve Allen (left) and Deputy Director Dick Myers (center) staffed the department’s booth at the 2023 Jefferson County Fair every day to talk about programs to help prepare for natural and man-made disasters. Staff from the County Commission’s office joined them after work on Thursday, August 24 in the evening to assist (from left to right): Budget Director Bessie Nelson, County Administrator Makayla Zonfrilli, Deputy County Administrator Cindy Rezmer.
A lot of what makes local government work is listening to what’s on people’s minds and connecting to the right resources to solve problems. Talking with lots of people is a big part of the job for Steve Allen, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for Jefferson County, as he coordinates among various county departments, state & federal agencies, and local organizations to prepare for emergencies (see story in March 2023 Observer).
Allen recently organized a meeting with the West Virginia Department of Highways (WVDOH) and local first responders to review the upcoming closure of Route 340 near Harpers Ferry. While he’s satisfied that the local police and fire agencies’ concerns are being addressed, he’s worried that the information and guidance available to the public has been very limited. It’s a concern that was echoed by Jefferson County’s mayors: the project is outside of any of their jurisdictions, but the traffic confusion will likely be felt throughout the county over the next three months.
Jefferson County Schools is also emphasizing communication: Its “Attendance Awareness” initiative aims to address a key stumbling block to academic success before it becomes an insurmountable obstacle (story in this month’s issue).
When you have honest conversations about important issues — such as education and transportation — it’s surprising how interrelated they can be — and how addressing roadblocks in one area can improve the quality of life of everyone in the county.By Steve Pearson