Curtis Ledbetter becomes county’s new emergency manager and LEPC chairman
Curtis Ledbetter is the county’s new emergency manager and also the chairman of the Local Emergency Planning Committee, accepting the emergency manager appointment last week by Ozark County Presiding Commissioner John Turner. Ledbetter accepted the LEPC chairmanship in March.
Ledbetter is the administrative assistant at the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office, a job he will keep while serving in the emergency-management leadership roles for which he was recommended by Steven Ator, who recently stepped down from the emergency manager and LEPC chair positions.
Ledbetter grew up in Koshkonong and moved to Gainesville in 2000, completing his last two years of school here and graduating from Gainesville High School in 2001. He worked as an OCSD dispatcher for three years before becoming administrative assistant, replacing Gail Reich when she retired earlier this year.
Ledbetter, who has served as Ator’s deputy manager, plans to continue and perhaps expand the county’s emergency-response operations and procedures established by Ator, who took the emergency leadership jobs about a year ago after the unexpected resignation of the county’s previous emergency manager, Brett Meintz.
Ator, a reserve deputy with OCSD and also a firefighter and first responder with Tecumseh VFD, said the LEPC focuses specifically on training first responders to deal with haz mat emergencies such as chemical spills. Recently, the LEPC facilitated a Hazardous Commodity Flow Study in cooperation with State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) in which volunteers from Caney Mountain VFD monitored traffic at a highway intersection in the county to help record a snapshot of what kinds of materials are moving through the county. In exchange, SEMA gave CMVFD five handheld radios for department use.
Ator also helped Ozark County Mutual Aid reorganize during his tenure; the group, consisting of representatives of Ozark County’s volunteer fire departments, now meets bi-monthly, led by Art Streigle, president; J. B. Duke, vice president; and Kevin Piland, treasurer. Ledbetter has served as the group’s secretary since June.
Recently, Ator said, Ozark County Mutual Aid organized training from Missouri State University for such things as snakebite response and defensive driving. “Curtis and I have stressed training,” Ator said. “We have had incident command training, making sure folks are caught up. Some training is online, and some is hands-on.” Last week, 17 members of the Tecumseh and Dora VFDs completed a 3 1/2-hour training course in advanced CPR, he said.
Ator also has expanded the county’s emergency management to include six volunteers, each with assigned organizational duties, who would work the emergency operations center in the basement of the Ozark County Health Department during an emergency.
As examples, Ator said one ops center member would manage volunteers, another would line up schools and churches as shelters and another would handle logistics for things like bringing in food and water. “Now we have things in place, so if something comes up, we don’t have to go out searching for people to run things. We have them in place. We’ll open up the ops center in the health department basement and get to work.”
Ator also updated the county’s Chemical Emergency Preparedness Fund grants earlier this year to bring in $8,200 for haz mat readiness. “Some ladies from Jefferson City came down, and we worked a day and a half to get the grants all caught up,” he said.
He has also worked with the Gainesville Head Start to practice “a couple of tornado drills a year. The kids are bused down and do the drill in the courthouse basement,” he said.