[caption id="attachment_34296" align="aligncenter" width="506"]<img class="size-full wp-image-34296" src="https:\/\/mountainmedianews.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/13\/2018\/09\/Maxwelton-Ruritans-present-flag-to-Whitaker.png" alt="" width="506" height="441" \/> Debbie Bowman of the Maxwelton Ruritan Club presented Whitaker with a new American Flag for the 911 Center in Maxwelton in March 2018 in thanks for emergency responders\u2019 assistance.[\/caption]\r\n<h1>Former Homeland Security and 911 Center Executive Director Al Whitaker \u201ctook us all by surprise,\u201d and departed Greenbrier County for a position as a grant administrator in Charleston with the state Homeland Security Department, according to Greenbrier County Commission President Woody Hanna.<\/h1>\r\nHe said Whitaker was offered \u201ca better job with better pay, and most importantly less stress. He can now work a nine to five job and go home and be with his family every day.\u201d\r\n\r\nNamed Top Emergency Manager in the state in 2013, the first southern West Virginia emergency manager to win the award, Whitaker continued to provide leadership in developing emergency operations plans, \u201cgoing above and beyond all duties and expectations.\u201d said Deputy Director Paula Brown with Greenbrier County\u2019s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. \u201cAl is definitely not a \u2018daily duties as assigned\u2019 kind of manager. He continually takes on added responsibility and challenges.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhitaker\u2019s years of public safety, emergency management and disaster response prepared him for large-scale Greenbrier County events like the State Fair of West Virginia and The Greenbrier Classic golf tournament. He was tapped to serve as hazmat coordinator for the first Boy Scout Jamboree.\r\n\r\nBut it was during the 2012 Super Derecho and the 2016 flood when Whitaker demonstrated what it means to go \u201cabove and beyond,\u201d as he oversaw the 911 Center, coordinated delivery of everything from emergency generators and fuel to distribution of National Guardsmen and volunteers to rescue and recover flood victims. He was on the job day and night.\r\n\r\n\u201c(O)ne would be hard-pressed to find a harder worker, more dedicated, or more knowledgeable public safety professional in West Virginia,\u201d Brown said when she nominated him to be top emergency manager in the state.\r\n\r\nWhitaker\u2019s experience in large-scale events goes back before his job in Greenbrier County, when he was involved in the state\u2019s emergency planning during a Rainbow Family gathering and when evacuees from Louisiana arrived in West Virginia after Hurricane Katrina.\r\n\r\nWhen he was 16 years old, Whitaker joined the Marfrance volunteer fire department and nine years later began his career in fire and ambulance service in western Greenbrier County. He has since worked in the emergency response field in several areas of the state, including Raleigh County, where he currently makes his home.\r\n\r\nThe county commission has posted a request for resumes to fill Whitaker\u2019s shoes as emergency management and 911 director. The job requirements are lengthy and the expectations are high.\r\n\r\nAt an impromptu gathering at Landings Restaurant at the Greenbrier Valley Airport last Friday, Airport Manager Stephen Snyder, Airport Director of Public Safety James Hylton and County Commissioner Mike McClung, along with law officials, including Sheriff Bruce Sloan, first responders and fire fighters, offered a tribute to Whitaker. \u201cAl\u2019s gave his heart and soul to this community,\u201d said Snyder.\r\n\r\n\u201cEvery time there\u2019s a disaster or an event demanding leadership and expertise, he\u2019s given and given. We all owe Al a debt - he\u2019s earned it,\u201d Snyder said.