By Brian Livingston / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
There won't be any more calls in the dead of night for David Sharp. No more working seven days straight, always on call to respond to disasters and emergencies in Lauderdale County.
The only thing in David Sharp's immediate future is a vacation to the quiet surroundings of the mountains.
Friday afternoon, inside the community center at Evangel Temple Church on Highway 145 south of Meridian, friends, family, and well wishers shook hands with Sharp and wished him a continued, relatively quiet life as Sharp officially retired from the Lauderdale Emergency Management Agency after eight years.
"Those long hours, I'm not gonna miss," Sharp said while meeting friends as they came into the hall. "I am ready to move on."
Sharp spent 23 years with the Meridian Fire Department before taking over the director's position at LEMA following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Since taking over LEMA, Sharp has had to lead the emergency services of Lauderdale County into a new era of preparation for the next disaster, whether it be natural or manmade.
"I like to think Lauderdale County emergency services and personnel are better prepared than ever before for that catastrophic event," Sharp said. "We have tried to get the best equipment and training available to ensure we are ready."
But there are things Sharp said he wished he could've gotten done before this day came. Projects such as a severe weather shelter at the Lauderdale County Agriculture Center on Highway 19 South and more weather warning sirens in the outlying areas of the county come to his mind quickly.
"I will be working on these projects with the next director, so I'm not all the way out of the game yet," Sharp said.
That next director, Sharp hopes, may be Scott Spears. Spears, Sharp said, has been the deputy director of LEMA for six years and is a certified emergency manager.
"Scott would be good and I recommended him to the members of the Board of Supervisors," Sharp said. "It makes the most sense and I think he can do the job and carry LEMA further."
Spears said recently that he would like to be the next director but that the decision is not his.
"It is up to the members of the Board of Supervisors," Spears said. "David has done a great job and I learned a lot from him."
Sharp said he leaves LEMA in good hands. From searching for missing or lost residents, to responding to natural events, to hazardous chemical spills, Sharp is confident the men and women who make up LEMA can handle any incident they may face.
"These are really good people," Sharp said. "They know their jobs and do them well."
Sharp said he will be working for Meridian Cycles located on Highway 11 in Meridian. But first comes the rest and recreation and serenity of the mountains.