Hawkins 911 Board ready to start selection process for new director

Jeff Bobo • Apr 15, 2020 at 3:00 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Monday was the last day that applicants for the Hawkins County 911 director position could submit a resume to fill the vacancy created by the firing last month of longtime director Gay Murrell.

Mike Herrell, who chairs the Hawkins County 911 Board, told the Times News Monday about 10 applications had been submitted.

The 911 Board’s Personnel Committee was planning on looking over the applications sometime this week, and the full 911 Board is scheduled to meet Thursday at 6 p.m. at the 911 center in Rogersville.

Herrell noted, however, that Thursday’s meeting might be postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

On Monday, Mayor Jim Lee extended the county’s emergency declaration another week, including “Safer at Home” requirements.

If the board does meet Thursday, those applicants and the Personnel Committee’s recommendation will likely be a main topic of discussion.

“There are only going to be a few who qualify because of the experience and certification requirements we’re placing on the position this time,” Herrell said Monday. “I’m hoping in the next few days the 911 Personnel Committee will meet, and that’s when we’re going to open up the applications. Right now they’re all sealed, so we don’t know who has applied. The Personnel Committee will go through the applications, and either we interview all of them, or they will narrow it down to so many.”

Herrell added, “If we can’t meet, we’re going to have to figure that out because the whole board will have to decide. Right now we’re scheduled to have a meeting April 16th, but I don’t know if we’re going to get to have it or not.”

Herrell said his goal is to have the new director in place no later than the second week of May.

Murrell, who worked for Hawkins County Central Dispatch for 27 years, including 19 as director, was fired by the 911 Board at its March 12 meeting by a vote of 6-1, with the only dissenting vote coming from board member Lawrence Wheeler.

Herrell told the Times News last month that Murrell breached her contract when she allowed non-certified staff members to answer 911 calls last year.

As of last November, all dispatchers had been certified, but Herrell said the lapse in keeping their training up to date last year placed Murrell in breach of contract.

For the past month Chucky Johnson has overseen administration at Central Dispatch, and Caitlyn Smith has overseen operations.

Herrell said Johnson and Smith are doing a great job, and if a decision on the new director can’t be made until next month, he feels Central dispatch is in good hands.

This is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, and the 911 Board had planned a cookout to honor Hawkins County dispatchers, but Herrell said it has been postponed due to the pandemic.

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