A new Greenbrier County Emergency Management and 911 Director was sworn in at Tuesday’s Greenbrier County Commission meeting.
David Michael “Mike” Honaker was introduced by Commission President Woody Hanna before a sizable gathering in the courtroom, Honaker’s family, wife Melissa, son Matthias, 20, daughter Maddison, 14, plus his mother and sister.
Born in Greenbrier County, Honaker, 52, is described by a former school-mate as “a class act guy” with a solid background for the job ahead of him. He played football when he attended Greenbrier East High School, then joined the Marines in the mid-’80s, and later was a border patrol officer in Texas and most recently served eight and a half years in Virginia with the state police, where he covered the Virginia Tech shootings and the Pentagon on 9-ll. “Experience counts,” he said. Add to the foregoing that Honaker is also a middle school coach and a church pastor, his experience appears to include a wide ranging skill set. Honaker said he was grateful for the opportunity and welcomed the challenge to serve as the new 911 director.
“How do you follow Al Whitaker’?” said Honaker, who has never met the former 911 Director. “I would hate to try to follow in his footsteps, I know he’s done a fantastic job …I learned a long time ago we can’t really follow in people’s footsteps, but if we’re going to see further and accomplish more, we’re going to do it standing on the shoulders of giants. Al Whitaker is one of those giants,” he said.
When questioned by the press about staffing issues that frequently plagues the 911 center, Honaker said, “Recruitment and retainment is important to maintain, but also to make sure an environment where people are valued and appreciated – and fairly compensated – is key to keeping employees.
His philosophy concerning the media is, “The media is your best friend in keeping the public informed,” he said. “We need you to help us especially when emergencies arise.”
In other business:
- Eight 4-H juniors and seniors at Greenbrier East High School were honored for their skills competing in several national agricultural and shooting events across the country. Extension Agent Robin Haynes and instructors Mike Adkins and Josh Peplowski praised the students’ accomplishments in their respective programs as marksmen and livestock judging teams.
- Matt Ford, as a representative for both the Meadow River Valley Association and the Greenbrier County Long-Term Recovery team, offered an update of various nonprofit management efforts over the last 10 years. He described how various committees have learned how to come together in handling many separate issues following the 2016 floods, which left numerous families without homes. Ford’s follow-up also focused on economic development for the Meadow River Valley, once exclusively called the west end. He named many community leaders and detailed how “the west end” has gained a new name designation and “a whole new sense of pride.”
- Bids were presented by Deputy Emergency Management Director Paula Brown to the commissioners for a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to supply the Meadow River Valley area communities with generators. Those communities were described by Brown as “woefully deficient” in 2016 when the floods hit the area. Several firms submitted bids with a wide range of estimates for the projects, which Brown said she would sort through to be sure that “apples to apples” are accounted for. The bidders included Bluestone Electric, Lusk Electric, Hilton Connections, and Greenbrier Electric to provide generators for Clintonville Volunteer Fire Department, the Rupert Community Center and the Rainelle Volunteer Fire Department.