Butler County EMA director resigns

Butler County’s director of its emergency management services is leaving.
Butler County’s director of its emergency management services is leaving.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 1:02 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2023 at 1:21 PM EDT
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HAMILTON, Ohio (WXIX) - The executive director of Butler County Emergency Management Agency has resigned but will still keep working until the end of July, County Commissioner T.C. Rogers said Wednesday.

Matt Haverkos has been with the county’s EMA since 2011.

He served as deputy director before he was promoted to the top job in 2015 when then-director Jeff Galloway left to work for Morgan Township.

“As we continue to move forward, know that we have the best Team in the business. I will always be available to assist when needed,” Haverkos wrote in his resignation letter Tuesday.

“I say often, ‘We have the best collaboration in Butler County, Ohio,’ who can solve any disaster thrown our way. Lastly, as one of the youngest EMA Directors in the 7th largest County, of the 7th largest State in the Nation; I am honored to have served and will always cherish the opportunity you have afforded me and my family.”

Rogers says Haverkos will keep working through the end of July.

“I think he did a great job of coordinating efforts from multiple sources during the pandemic,” said Rogers, an EMA board member. “They’ve been able to handle every type of emergency crisis, which is what his position is supposed to do.”

The EMA’s deputy director, Jim Bolen, will be the acting director, according to Rogers.

Haverkos wrote in his resignation letter he has “decided to pursue my entrepreneurship.”

His LinkedIn page says he is the owner of a private snow-plowing business.

He’s been running it for years with his wife, Pam Haverkos, who is the director of Clermont County Emergency Management Agency, and now plans to leave the public sector to focus on that family business.

“I talked to him. He’s had a plan. They have a business on the side and he wants to expand on that,” Rogers said.

Haverkos and some current and former fire chiefs have clashed in the past with Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.

Rogers said his resignation has nothing to do with that.

They opposed the sheriff’s repeated attempts to change state law so the sheriff’s office could take over the county’s emergency management operations. Now it is run by an EMA board.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed legislation into law in the spring of 2019 granting the county the option to let their sheriff do it.

Sheriff Jones has said he’s been trying to streamline the county’s emergency management agency for more than a decade to save taxpayers money and reduce response times.

After the law change, however, Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser advised county commissioners against letting the sheriff’s office take EMA over. He described the new law and the sheriff’s proposal to run the EMA as “fatally flawed in multiple ways.”

One of his big concerns was several communities served by the EMA who also pay nearly half of the EMA’s budget would lose a say in EMA decisions. The sheriff’s office proposed a smaller EMA board to operate in an advisory capacity.

The board used to have 18 members. Today it has 13, according to the list released Wednesday which includes, in addition to Rogers, trustees from West Chester, Fairfield, Oxford and Reily townships; Hamilton’s public safety director, Oxford’s fire chief, the city of Fairfield’s mayor and Ross Township’s police chief.

County commissioners took the prosecutor’s advice and kept the EMA under the control of its board.

The sheriff’s office continues to operate its own technical rescue teams including water rescue, SWAT and the bomb squad. Training includes rescues from confined spaces, structural collapse and the use of a drone with a low-light camera and a thermal camera to find victims.

In 2021, Haverkos called for a third party to review an agreement the sheriff’s office entered into with Campbell County in northern Kentucky.

The agreement allows first responders in both counties to train together for emergencies and work together in the event of an emergency.

Jones told FOX19 NOW he had to go outside the county to get EMA training for his staff because they couldn’t get any in their own county.

Rogers said Wednesday that Haverkos’s decision to leave has nothing to do with those previous issues.

More recently, in December, the sheriff called for Butler County EMA and the state EMA to audit all of Galloway’s deployments for hurricanes and other disasters.

It happened just hours after Galloway quit Morgan Township amid three investigations into allegations he was double paid for deployment and nepotism.

The probes were conducted by the state auditor’s Special Investigations Unit, Ohio Ethics Commission and the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office.

At last check, the auditor’s Special Investigations Unit was still investigating.

Galloway has not been charged with any crimes and denies all wrongdoing, according to his resignation letter and attorney.

Jones, meanwhile, calls Haverkos’s resignation “one of the best things that can ever happen to Butler County.”

“He is a divider, not a uniter. I’m glad to see him go,” the sheriff said Wednesday. “As far as a replacement, hopefully, the EMA board does a search. Hopefully, they don’t just pick someone (Haverkos) wanted for that job.”

Will the sheriff ask county commissioners again now to put EMA operations under the sheriff’s office?

Jones declined to comment.

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