Director named for Adams County EMA

Published 12:11 am Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Robert Bradford was hired as the new Adams County Emergency Management director Monday.

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Robert Bradford was hired as the new Adams County Emergency Management director Monday.

NATCHEZ — Adams County’s new emergency management director hopes to use his military experience to serve his county much like he does his country.

U.S. Army Reserve Major Robert L. Bradford Sr. was hired Monday by the board of supervisors to replace outgoing director Stan Owens, whose last day is June 30.

Owens will work with Bradford until then to train him and ensure a smooth transition, Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said.

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Bradford, a Belzoni native, joined the Army in 1991 after graduating from Alcorn State University with a degree in plant and soil science. Bradford oversees a Jackson-based battalion of 154 non-commissioned officers.

Bradford said the Gulf War sparked his desire to serve his country. It is his work with disaster relief during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, though, that he says provided useful insight and experience for an emergency management director position.

Bradford was stationed at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg when Katrina hit and worked under Gen. Russel L. Honoré to help plan relief and recovery efforts in the wake of Katrina’s devastation.

“We were unprepared, and we have learned a lot from those mistakes,” Bradford said. “With the military, I am well versed in safety and emergency planning. I hope to use that knowledge to transition into this role (as director).”

As emergency management director, Bradford will also serve as volunteer fire coordinator and homeland security director. The emergency management director has also historically served as E911 director, but the E911 board will make that decision. Grennell said he expects Bradford will be appointed as E911 director.

Under a new fire protection agreement with the City of Natchez, the county is transitioning into a stronger volunteer fire program and less reliability on the Natchez Fire Department.

Bradford said he will first work to recruit volunteer firefighters because that is the program’s most immediate need.

“I want to bridge the gap between the city and the county because we’re all fighting for the same purpose, the residents of Adams County,” he said.

Bradford said after approximately six months on the job, he would begin making an assessment of the needs for the county’s emergency management agency.

Grennell said the supervisors are fully confident in Bradford’s ability to lead the EMA and are impressed by his experience.

“He knows the methodology of how to get things done, in terms of emergency management,” he said. “Those were the things that really impressed all of us on the board.”

Bradford officially starts today, and his salary is $36,500.

Bradford has lived in Adams County since 2001. He is married to Sharon Bradford and has five children.