Horry County leaders hope to keep outgoing emergency management director on staff

Horry County leaders hope to keep outgoing emergency management director on staff

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Horry County leaders are hoping they’ll be able to keep outgoing Emergency Management Director Randy Webster on staff with the county despite the fact that he recently announced he’d be retiring.

Webster said his future is up in the air now that he’s temporarily taken on an additional role as assistant county administrator for public safety.

This comes after the county parted ways with Joe Huffman, who previously held that job, due to his history of mishandling funds at his old job, which recently came to the attention of the county.

On June 5, Mississippi State Auditor Shad White announced his office had issued Huffman and former city comptroller Robert Parker demand letters for exercising improper financial management of bond proceeds, according to a press release. The total amount of both demands is approximately $54,215.17 and includes all investigative costs and accrued interest.

A grand jury determined neither Huffman or Parker did anything illegal.

Webster said his plan as of now is still to retire from the county July 31 and take on a similar role at Conway Medical Center starting the next day, but he said his additional role could change things.

Horry County councilman Danny Hardee, who also serves as the chair of the Public Safety Committee, is hoping county leaders will be able to keep Webster on staff.

“Hopefully we can make him an offer that he might decide that he wants to be an Horry County employee longer than we thought he was,” Hardee said. “I would certainly hope that they would offer him the position that he would be interested in staying. Here again, that would be Randy’s decision. I can’t speak for him, but I would hate to lose him.”

The vacancy of Huffman’s position is the most recent vacancy in the county among high-ranking officials.

The county also has vacancies in the administrator position, after the county parted ways with former administrator Chris Eldridge and the assistant administrator position after Justin Powell took a job with SCDOT.

They’ll also soon have to fill Webster’s position of emergency management director if he ends up leaving and Huffman’s position of assistant administrator for public safety.

Horry County councilman Johnny Vaught said the administrator position will be filled first, since the administrator is supposed to hire the other three positions.

Vaught’s top choice for the job is Steve Gosnell, who’s currently serving as interim administrator.

“I just finished going through 25 applicants, and I couldn’t find anybody anywhere close to his experience and his background and that kind of thing,” Vaught said.

Vaught said council will narrow down their list of candidates from 25 to five by Wednesday. He said from there, they’ll decide whether they need to go through the interview process for those candidates. He said they might not even interview any of them if council decides to promote Gosnell to the position.

Vaught couldn’t give a timeline on when the administrator position could be filled. He also couldn’t give a timeline on when the other vacancies could be filled.

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