The Portage County Emergency Management Agency is hiring deputy director position.
While the agency works mostly behind-the-scenes, the department is of the utmost importance in times of emergency, said Director Ryan Shackelford.
He recently got approval from the county Board of Commissioners for an increase in annual budget money to cover the cost of a deputy director.
Commssioners recently authorized the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to spend $280,960, which comes out of the county general fund. That's an increase of roughly $60,000 compared with last year's budget of roughly $200,000.
The agency is also partially funded through state and federal grants.
EMA hasn't had a deputy director since 2012, when the former deputy died. The position was never filled, Shackelford said, and the responsibilities were absorbed into his position.
Cody Brookover, the EMA planning, training and exercise officer, will be promoted to the deputy position in July.
Under current staffing, the department has three full-time and one part-time position, along with a host of volunteers working to keep the county safe in times of emergency, Shackelford said.
The federal emergency management agency, FEMA, is still without a director and primary staff, as the position must be appointed by President Donald Trump. Now, with the uncertain financial cuts coming from the federal government, Shackelford said he'd rather play it safe.
"We need someone here with the authority I have to make the decisions that I make if and when I'm not around. In an emergency situation, things can change quickly," he said.
The department is partially funded through an Emergency Management Planning Grant, with roughly 70 percent of the available funds available at the state level trickling down to county agencies.
"We're thankful that the commissioners increased the budget so that we can keep the county safe in an emergency," Shackelford said.