Friday, December 17th, 2010
By Shelley Grieshop
Robbins tapped to head EMA
Current agency director Wanda Dicke stepping down
  CELINA - A new director - but familiar face - was appointed this week to head up the Mercer County Emergency Management Agency (EMA).
Mike Robbins, of Celina, who has worked as deputy director of the agency since April 2003, was chosen Thursday by county commissioners to replace retiring director Wanda Dicke.
Robbins, 52, will assume his new duties Jan. 1.
He believes the job is made easier because of the people and organizations - such as fire departments and law enforcement - that support the EMA, he said.
"We're more of a coordinating agency, and we've got many well-trained groups working with us," he said.
Robbins is a Celina High School graduate and previously attended Wright State University-Lake Campus, studying business. He spent nearly 25 years as an auxiliary firefighter for the city of Celina before joining the EMA department, he said.
Robbins initially worked under director Karl Kaiser before Dicke - a 16-year EMA veteran - was appointed six years ago.
"Karl had me taking all kinds of training classes," he said, adding he's thankful to have that knowledge under his belt.
He's learned a lot under Dicke's tenure and enjoyed working with her, he added.
The duties performed by the EMA office are mainly dictated by the state and federal EMA branches, he said. The local office is required to keep updated plans for all types of emergencies so response times can be quick and smooth, he added.
Debris management is one of the policies the office recently updated. It provides a protocol to clean up and dispose of materials following ice storms, tornadoes or other disasters, Robbins explained. Handling the fall-out of local hazardous materials spills and possible terrorism acts also is the responsibility of the office.
"People think terrorism can't happen in a small community like this, but it can," Robbins said.
Because the county is rich in agriculture and livestock and has many food processing plants, it could be a potential terrorism target, he said.
Local EMA offices also are tapped to help residents and businesses in applying for financial assistance following disasters.
Robbins believes one of the most important parts of his job is to teach the public to "care for themselves" as much as possible when emergencies strike. The more individuals can do for themselves, the more time emergency crews have to assist others, he said.
Robbins' position won't be filled this year because of the county's tight budget, so he will start with a small employee pool. Other members of the staff include hazardous materials planner Chad Willrath and administrative assistant Sheryle Kuhn.
In other business Thurs-
day, county commissioners:
• Set Jan. 6 as the date to open sealed bids for roadside herbicide application.
• Declared no annual revision to the pay range assignment of the employee compensation plan. Although commissioners reviewed the Consumer Price Index and found it reflected a 1.4 percent increase in urban and clerical wages, they chose to keep pay ranges the same as last year because of the uncertain financial forecast of the county.
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