Teresa Witte, who had been Kiowa County’s Emergency Manager since 2015, resigned from her position as of February 28, 2020. At that point, the Kiowa County Commissioners offered the position to existing county employees first, and Shellie Engelhardt was hired to replace Teresa. Shellie had worked on occasion with Teresa in the past few months and is very interested in emergency planning.
According to the office of the BOCC, when Teresa assumed her position, all of the county’s plans were missing. Consequently, she had to build plans related to emergency management essentially from scratch. The Board of Commissioners are confident that Shellie will be able to continue the work that Teresa began and ensure that the county is prepared for all types of disasters.
The emergency manager reports directly to the Board of Commissioners and works very closely with the Sheriff's Office, the Fire District and EMS. Her primary responsibility is to ensure that Kiowa County has current and updated plans for any type of disaster or emergency that might arise. If such an event were to occur, the Emergency Manager is responsible for getting the emergency responders the assistance that they need whether it comes from local, regional, state or federal agencies.
The position is partially funded by the Homeland Security Department as we are mandated to have these plans and this position. In the event of a disaster, the county’s ability to get state assistance or FEMA funding depends considerably on the preparedness of the county. The Emergency Manager works closely with regional partners, and they help each other out whenever circumstances determine a need.
Shellie will be holding Local Emergency Planning (LEPC) meetings where local residents and businesses can assist in the planning process and help to ensure our plans work for our communities. The Commissioners are very appreciative of Teresa and the work she has done for Kiowa County.
Thanks to Tina Adamson, Kiowa County Administrator, for providing the information in this article.