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Shawnee's emergency dept. under new management

Vicky O. Misa

As storm season gets into full swing, and with the added threat of COVID-19, the community's emergency management department is certainly in the middle of its most crucial time of year. So news of a sudden change in leadership has left some residents scratching their heads.

As confirmed by City Manager Chance Allison, in early April the duties tied to the director position of the Emergency Management Department for Shawnee and Pottawatomie County shifted from longtime facilitator Don Lynch to a team effort by chiefs from the Shawnee police and fire departments.

“As the Shawnee city manager, it is my responsibility to execute and direct the city’s emergency management response to the spread of the coronavirus,” Allison said.

“Police Chief Mason Wilson and Fire Chief Rodney Foster began leading the city’s emergency management operation plan, bringing their decades of experience in public safety and public health to ensure the mission at hand is accomplished.”

Allison shared no explanation for the sudden change in leadership.

“(Wilson and Foster) are providing direct and continuous support to my efforts to ensure we are providing for the safety of our community, our business partners and the future of Shawnee, to which I offer my heartfelt thanks,” Allison said.

He did offer his gratitude to longtime director Lynch.

“Last, and certainly not least, I would like to applaud the efforts and nearly 20 years of support and experience our previous emergency manager, Don Lynch, has provided during his outstanding service to the City of Shawnee,” he said. “Our community is forever indebted to Don for building the robust City/County Emergency Management program that has been an example of exemplary public service through the years.”

Allison did not comment on whether emergency management operations would remain permanently in the hands of Wilson and Foster, or if a new director would be sought at some point.

Watch for updates.