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Winfield wants to relinquish emergency role

Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield has proposed that the city turn over all emergency management duties to Warren County.

The Vicksburg Post reports Winfield made the proposal as the city looked at streamlining its operations and cutting expenses.

Winfield said the county could to be the direct contact for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency in case of a local emergency.

“As of today, the city of Vicksburg and Warren County are delinquent on our countywide emergency management plan,” Winfield said, “so we have a number of things that we need to get rolling on, and (MEMA) has been waiting on us to take some action.

“The ultimate goal is to comply with state regulations and the future of our involvement,” Winfield said. “There are still details that need to be discussed.”

No action was taken on the proposal.

The city’s emergency management department is budgeted at $108,498 and draws on resources from departments such as information technology and public works.

“There are some things the city is going to be responsible for, regardless, especially as it deals with homeland security and things we have to do along those lines. There are some requirements of MEMA that we still have to meet,” said Alderman Michael Mayfield.

The city emergency management department was created in 2007 after former Mayor Laurence Leyens criticized the state and Warren County’s response to Hurricane Katrina two years earlier.

Since then, the city and county have been at odds over how to incorporate response functions from both entities into a comprehensive emergency response plan.

In August, city board members and county supervisors approved applying for $150,000 in grant money from MEMA to complete the plan. MEMA has said Warren County is the only county in the grant program without an updated plan.

Warren County Emergency Management Director Gwen Coleman said work continues to include the city’s response to disasters whether the city’s department is eliminated or not.