Fulton County’s Emergency Management Agency will gain new leadership with the exit of Director Heather Kost on March 24.
Kost is leaving the office she’s held since October 2012 to accept a position with the emergency management program within the health system at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She will commute daily to the new position, and so will retain her seat on Wauseon City Council.
“I think that’s an obligation I need to continue with,” she said.
Andy Brodbeck, who recently retired as chief of the Archbold Fire Department, will serve as interim director until a permanent replacement is named. The EMA board will advertise the position within a week.
Kost accepted the UM position Feb. 14 out of a desire to become part of the university’s growing emergency management system. “The UM really values emergency management, and they see how critical it is to be prepared. I like that progressive, forward thinking,” she said.
Because they see the importance of emergency management “they’re really ramping up their system. There is a lot of potential for growth there,” she added.
Leaving her associates and the partnerships within Fulton County will be difficult, Kost said.
“(They) had really developed. I value the partnerships and the time people put in to realize that we all have to work together,” she said. “It takes a team of people to be prepared, and it takes a team of people to respond.”
Her accomplishments as EMA director include the partnerships she helped the agency establish with the county’s emergency services.
“Fulton County has a great emergency management agency. The people who need to respond and prepare…the EMA board members, the fire, police, sheriff, the coordinated effort, is outstanding in our county,” Kost said.
She’s also pleased about updating the EMA’s emergency operations and mitigation plans, bringing the agency into compliance with grant money programs and meeting time lines and deadlines – areas the state and federal governments eye closely – and bringing local, free training to first responders.
Kost said another satisfying accomplishment has been educating on the differences between what the EMA does and does not do.
“It’s bringing people together to understand how we work together in response and planning,” she said. “It’s not a first response agency. EMA is a coordinating agency that assists first responders if needed when a response is outside the norm.”
Looking back, Kost said one accomplishment that got away was educating elected officials on those differences.
She praised Brodbeck’s ability as an interim director, saying, “He is a wonderful, knowledgeable, honest, person. He’ll do a great job.”
EMA Chair Todd Grisier said the board wants to fill the position as soon as possible.
Praising Kost’s performance, he said, “Heather did a fantastic job. She brought Fulton County forward in the eyes of the state. Our local office is really well-respected at the state level because of Heather. We’re going to miss her.”
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.