Steamboat Springs Routt County has begun searching for a new person to lead its communications and 911 dispatch center.
Communications Director Tim McMenamin is stepping down from his post at the end of March. He has held the position since March 2010.
“Our kids and grandkids are all back in Virginia,” McMenamin said. “It’s been harder than we expected (to be away from them), and we just wanted to get back to the kids.”
McMenamin also cited health concerns as a reason for leaving. A smoker for 45 years, he said he has emphysema and moving to a lower altitude will be better for his health.
While technically retiring, the Civil War history buff plans to be a tour guide at the Fredericksburg Battlefield in Virginia. McMenamin is ending his 40-year career in public safety.
“Tim did a great job for us, and I’m really sad to see him leave,” Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said.
For a variety of reasons, the turnover rate for the communications director has been quite high. Sullivan said one director left because she did not like the cold weather. Another used the job as a stepping stone to a better job.
“This is the sixth time I’ll be trying to fill the position,” he said.
There are 17 staff members in the communications department, and keeping the department fully staffed is difficult.
McMenamin said the problem is not unique to Routt County. Being a dispatcher can be a stressful job, and some do not even make it through training. Currently, dispatchers work 12-hour shifts.
“It will be interesting to see what the new director thinks of the 12-hour shifts,” Sullivan said.
McMenamin said he enjoyed his job here, the employees and the other people he got to work with.
The dispatch center provides services for many local agencies, such as the local fire and police departments. Dispatch also is tasked with contacting key personnel such as social workers and mental health officials.
The county funds the department through property taxes and 911 phone fees.
In recruiting a new director, Sullivan said he will look for someone with public safety or communications experience.
Sullivan will use a hiring committee to choose the next director, who will need to have a passion for running communications during emergency events, he said.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland
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