Former Chambers County EMA director has name placed on building

Published 4:03 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2019

LANETT — A former Chambers County emergency management director has been immortalized on the building that houses the services he once oversaw.

Donald or “Donnie” Smith had his name placed on the side of the Chambers County EMA building in May, which is located on Highway 50 heading out of Lanett.

During the ceremony, Chambers County Commission Chairman David Eastridge said 911 services in the county evolved throughout the years with Smith as the director. He said Smith had a tenacity when it came to obtaining grants and usually when he spoke at commission meetings, it meant his hard work paid off in finding funding.

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During a commission meeting in May, Eastridge said there isn’t anybody else more dedicated to their craft.

“I do not know of anybody else in the state that is more committed than Mr. Smith,” Eastridge said. “I am very proud to be part of the commission to put your name on that wall.”

Current EMA Director Jessica Yeager said working under Smith taught her what she needed to know to assume the position.

“I worked under Donnie’s direction for over 13 years,” she said. “He never asked anyone to do something that he would not do himself, he enjoys new and challenging projects and is always eager to teach anyone interested about the ins and outs of 911 and EMA.”

Smith had been with Chambers County emergency management since county voters approved going with an enhanced statewide 911 system in 1986. He officially retired Jan. 30. Jessica Yeager was named the new director Jan. 31.

Communications Supervisor Darlene Billingsley presented a plaque to Smith on behalf of the staff. At the end of the ceremony, Smith said he was humbled and thankful to be honored by the 911 Board and County Commission.

“What really makes our system great is our people,” Smith said. “From the leadership at the city and county level to our 911 Board and finally to the most important part — the folks inside those walls that say “911, where is your emergency?” every time the phone rings.”

He said he had a great team beside him throughout his many years with the county.

“They have provided support, encouragement, and sometimes criticism, but always with the desire to serve our citizens and our first responders in the best way possible,” he said. “This wall could not hold all the names of all the people over the years that have supported me. I thank you all.”