With just over three weeks under his belt, new Wilson County Emergency Management Director Joey Cooper is settling into his new role in a department where he’s already served more than 20 years.
Cooper was sworn into office Nov. 18 and takes the place of former director John Jewell, who announced his plans to resign from the position in August.
Cooper said that, so far, he has been busy with a lot of appointments and meet-and-greets with other county agencies, as well as ones within Wilson County, Lebanon and Mt. Juliet.
“Basically, right now I’m working on making connections and building relationships there,” Cooper said.
He said that the department has two new stations already built and hoped to be in one by the first of the year, within the first week of January.
“We’ve got the one on 231 North; it’s a big accomplishment,” Cooper said. “We’re coming up on and waiting on a grand opening there to add service to that area.”
Regarding future plans, Cooper said he had a few ideas on different things he wanted to do and directions he wanted to go in.
“As far as organization, I do have a few areas I want to work on and directions I want to go in and I’ve relayed those to the mayor and human resources and all the official routes needed to be taken to get those done,” Cooper said. “So far I’ve gotten their blessings from them on my thoughts and directions.”
He said that so far he has only made a few minor changes.
“Right now, we may make a few changes basically with the organizational chart on who answers to who and what areas people are responsible for, so minor changes there and also minor changes with operational policies and procedures. We may look at reviewing and modifying some of those,” Cooper said.
He said his basic goal overall is to “strive to make the organization better for the community as a whole.”
Cooper, who has been with WEMA for 24 years since October of 1989, said he applied for the director position because he felt his experience could bring a lot to the table.
“Basically, through 24 years I’ve had different ranks throughout the department and the last 10 years I’ve been a battalion chief, which is a shift commander, and with the position comes administrative duties,” Cooper said. “So with that I was associated with decision making and felt when the position became available I’d be a good asset for the department in that area and could bring knowledge and expertise to that area for the employees of the department and the community.”