Lincoln County has a new Emergency Management Agency (EMA) director, after the County Commission agreed to replace Emma Epplin, who’d been the county’s EMA director since 2015.

“We decided we wanted to go in a different direction,” said Presiding Commissioner Joe Kaimann at the commission’s meeting on Feb. 5.

Replacing Epplin as director is Jim Sharp, who was hired by the county’s emergency management department in 2018 as community outreach and training coordinator.

Sharp, 56, has more than 25 years of  emergency services experience and is  one of fewer than 600 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) certified master professional continuity practioners nationwide.

Sharp said Feb. 6 that he’s only been on the job for a week and has some ideas about the future focus of the department. 

“We really need to be inclusive of our entire community,” Sharp said. “And that means obviously our first responder community, that means our school communities and that means our business community, and that means the communities where we have population centers and the communities where we  have people living on 50 acres.

“All those folks I have a responsibility for, and I feel that responsibility very heavily. I think you will see a lot more in the way of public information and public education,” he added. 

That information and education campaign will discuss the threats people face and steps that can be taken to be better prepared. 

“I see us having a much larger public presence in the community,” Sharp said.

Sharp said flooding and weather-related events such as severe storms or tornados are always prevalent threats and primary concerns. Much of the eastern portion of the county, which borders the Mississippi River, is in flood plain and is subject to severe flooding.   

“Certainly we’ve had our fair share of flooding,” he said

Sharp said the county did have a tornado at Hawk Point several years ago.  “Severe weather is always at the top of our minds, probably more so at this time of year than any other time though there is no such thing as a severe weather season,” Sharp said.

Sharp has been active in local and state regional emergency planning efforts since he was hired last April. He is a member of the Gateway Electronic Crimes Task Force, an intelligence liaison officer with MIAC (the Missouri Information Analysis Center), a member of the Missouri Region C Incident Support Team, and assigned to the Training Subcommittee for the Missouri Incident Management System. 

Kaimann and associate commissioners Mike Mueller and Matt Bass did not comment on specifics about Epplin’s job performance or on the direction they wanted the department to move in.

Epplin could not be reached for comment. An email on Jan. 25 from Epplin noted that the county commission voted  “to take my department in a different direction” and the county would no longer employ her.

Prior to being an Emergency Management Director, Epplin worked for the Lincoln County Health Department as an emergency planner since 2011. While at the health department she helped prepare and develop plans for responding to emergency situations during possible public health disasters.

“I was originally hired to be a public health liaison, and I kind of fell into the role of emergency planner,” she said in an April 2018 Elsberry Democrat story. “I absolutely loved it. It was something I was very good at and passionate about. I hope we never have to use the plans that are made, but Lincoln County will be prepared.”

Epplin attended Washington University in St. Louis where she received her Master of Public Health Degree in 2011. She also worked for Washington University in St. Louis.

She obtained her undergraduate degree from Drake University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology in 2007.

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