Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell held a meeting on Saturday morning at the TOPS building in Carmel with first responders from throughout the County to go over the process for appointing a new Commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services. Past Commissioner Adam Stiebeling, who was appointed to the position on Sept. 12, 2012 by Odell, was not reappointed to the position for 2015.

To Odell, former Commissioner Robert McMahon, epitomized what a leader of emergency management should be. McMahon retired from the bureau in September 2012 and died in October 2013.

“Bob was a man of service,” said Odell. “He loved his community. He was a veteran, a career New York City firefighter and a nurse. Every time Bob had something to say to me I would hang on to his words. His words were truly valuable to this community, particularly to the first responder community.”

She added. “Bob had a vision. I am going to continue Bob McMahon’s vision through the Commissioner of Emergency Services. His vision was selfless and it was about service. It was about making sure the people of Putnam County were safe, every day. As County Executive I am going to make sure that is what we do.”

Putnam County’s personnel department will start advertising the vacant position in newspapers, on the county website and through social media next week.

A seven-member committee, led by Director of Personnel, Paul Eldridge, and consisting of at least five people from the first responder community, will then determine the questions that will be asked to the candidates. The committee will be made up of the Director of Personnel, a member respectively from the fire advisory board, the emergency safety board, the fire chiefs association, a member of the EMS (emergency medical service), a legislator appointed by the chairman of the Putnam County Legislature and one other person to be determined by the first responder community.

“We try to make the questions standardized as possible,” said Eldridge at the meeting. “It makes for a better interview and a fair process. Everyone is basically answering the same questions and the committee can then compare responses.”

Tentatively, the deadline to submit an application or resume for the commissioner position will be Feb. 6.

By Feb. 23, the selection committee will then go through the applicants, establish the group of people who should move forward and hold interviews with them. The committee will narrow the selection down to three people who they will recommend be interviewed by the County Executive.

Odell will then meet with the candidates and identify up to two people for the personnel department to conduct final vetting on. After the personnel department reports back to the County Executive, she can make a conditional offer to the chosen candidate. The appointment will be conditional until it is confirmed by the legislature.

Odell intends on naming the new Commissioner during the State of the County address on Thursday, March 12.

“I am glad to see that the administration has created a committee made up primarily of first responders —the people the position is going to affect,” said Ed McCarthy, deputy chief of the Putnam Valley Fire Department. “Rather than just making a political appointment, which would be within the County Executive’s right, she is willing to take our input. I am very happy that she is going about it the right way.”

Odell also dispelled rumors at the meeting. She dismissed reports concerning the closing of the county’s 9-1-1 dispatch center. In fact, within the past month, Odell approved five new dispatch positions for the 9-1-1 call center.

“We are not dissolving the 9-1-1 call center, no jobs will be lost,” said Odell. “We are also not dismantling this building or the bureau of emergency services. We are trying to make sure we are fiscally responsible, we are meeting our opportunities for efficiencies and we are delivering the optimum safety emergency services to the community, to the constituents we serve.”