Macon panel OKs EMA director

The Macon City Council’s Public Safety Committee signed off on a new Emergency Management Agency director Tuesday, but he’ll need the full council’s approval to take the job.

Michael Smith, an emergency training coordinator in North Carolina with a long background in emergency medical work and disaster response, is Mayor Robert Reichert’s choice to replace former EMA Director Johnny Wingers, who retired earlier this year.

Smith met with the Public Safety Committee on Tuesday and left with a 3-2 vote in his favor. The nomination will go to the full 15-member council next week.

Council members Virgil Watkins and Lonnie Miley voted against Smith’s nomination Tuesday, and Watkins, the committee chairman, has said he’d prefer that interim EMA director Latravious Smith get the job. He also noted that Smith, though “well qualified and trained,” hasn’t been an EMA director or assistant director before.

Councilwoman Elaine Lucas, who does not sit on the Public Safety Committee, said it would be “a morale buster” if the city didn’t promote from within.