Donald L. Druitt Sr., a 20-year emergency management veteran, was introduced Tuesday night as the next Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency director.
Druitt still will have to be approved by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, but not by Macon City Council.
The selection committee included representatives of the city and county as well as the fire, police and sheriff departments, who considered four new candidates during the course of two days.
Late last year, a committee selected Michael Smith of North Carolina as the new EMA director, but that decision ran into controversy after some City Council members wanted Macon-Bibb EMA interim Director LaTravius Smith to become the permanent director. Others were concerned that Bibb County Sheriff Jerry Modena wasn’t more involved with the selection despite the fact that the EMA interfaces with both the city and county.
When Michael Smith was being considered, Mayor Robert Reichert mistakenly believed the City Council had to approve the nominee. He’s since learned that only GEMA is required to sign off on the selection.
Modena, who was a member of the latest selection committee, said he was satisfied with the thorough process.
Aware that bypassing the council in the decision might irritate some council members, Reichert added, “I do not worry about there being any significant pushback.”
Councilwoman Elaine Lucas said her mind has remained unchanged about who should be named EMA director, and though she said the council could vote to not fund the position, she doesn’t plan to fight the selection.
“My choice was and still is LaTravius Smith, who has given her faithful service to this city,” she said.
Lucas stresses that to maintain morale, the city needs to show its employees they can move into higher positions.
Councilman Alveno Ross said LaTravius Smith proved herself during the Mother’s Day tornado. However, he is impressed with Druitt, who he said is of a higher caliber than Michael Smith.
“Had this been the candidate that the committee chose the first time, I don’t believe we would’ve had the same problems,” Ross said. “The bottom line is, in spite of what we went through, it led to a far greater qualified candidate.”
According to his résumé, Druitt worked as deputy director of the Hazard Management Department in the Cayman Islands, whose residential population is about 50,000.
Omar Afflack, current Cayman Islands deputy director of hazard management, said the biggest disaster the department responded to was Hurricane Paloma in 2008.
In Newport News, Va., Druitt rose from emergency planner to deputy coordinator of emergency management. Lt. Doug Crowson of the Newport News Fire Department, which has assumed the area’s emergency management, said that city is within an emergency protective zone for a nuclear plant. That, he said, requires yearly training exercises that Druitt would have helped coordinate.
Druitt’s résumé also lists his experience as a nuclear weapons specialist and that he has been trained in a variety of areas, including nuclear accidents, explosive ordnance disposal and terrorist bombings awareness training.
Reichert said he is going to immediately forward Druitt’s nomination to GEMA Director Charley English for approval.
To contact writer Chris Horne, call 744-4494.