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911 Board of Directors names one of its own as new agency director

Becky Campbell • Updated Jun 25, 2018 at 10:50 PM

The Washington County 911 governing board hired a new director last week, and he is a familiar face to the organization.

Greg Matherly, who was recently promoted to the rank of major at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, is the chairman of the Washington County Commission and serves as a 911 board of directors member, accepted the job offer at the board meeting last week. Matherly was one of two people interviewed for the position, and according to personnel chairman Nes Levotch, director of the Washington County/Johnson City Emergency Management Agency, “knocked his interview out of the park.”

The board began the selection process earlier this year when long-time director, Bob McNeil, retired shortly after the agency moved from downtown Johnson City into its new building on Lake Park Drive in Boones Creek. A personnel committee, which consisted of Levotch and three other board members — community member Tommy Burleson, EMS Director Dan Wheeley and Sheriff Ed Graybeal — worked separate from the full board during the search.

The job pays $90,000 a year plus benefits.

Levotch said in April that there were only a handful of applicants when the job was first advertised, so the selection committee asked the full board to re-open the process. The second time around there were an additional 35 applicants for the job. On Monday, Matherly said he had submitted his resume during the first time frame for applying, then told Levotch he did not want to be considered for the position.

But when the application period was re-opened, Matherly resubmitted his resume. He said the decision came after a lot of thought on the job, conversations with his family and prayer.

The other person interviewed for the job was Randall Lewis, who has been with the agency nearly 30 years. He started out as a dispatcher with 911 and became the assistant director in 2001. He worked side-by-side with McNeil through numerous upgrades to the 911 system in recent years.

Levotch acknowledged that he believed some people will question the hire because of Matherly’s position on the 911 board, but said he believes he is the right person for the job.

“I’ve had some people talk to me and ask why,” already, Levotch said. “I think the 911 organization needed to look to a new direction. It’s a super-important job.”

Levotch said the board met last Thursday and there was a discussion about which person would be offered the job.

“Both were asked to step out of the room and there was a discussion for about an hour and a half,” Levotch said. The board called Matherly and Lewis back in and offered the job to Matherly. He accepted and immediately resigned from the 911 board.

“I feel it was a good choice, and so did the board or it wouldn’t have been unanimous,” Levotch said. “We had a very good discussion. If anyone would have had doubt, they would have said so. I saw to it that we did it fairly.”

As far as any involvement Matherly had, there was none, Levotch said.

“I think people question every hire,” Levotch said. “He never saw an application that came in, he wasn’t on the personnel committee ... and he didn’t vote.”

Matherly, who has been on the 911 board for 14 years,  said he is excited about the new opportunity and had no involvement in the hiring process except as an applicant.

“I made a concerted effort to stay away from the search,” Matherly said. “I wasn’t encouraged to apply by anyone. It was something I wanted to do. I have a great job here at the sheriff’s office with the SROs and Dirty Street Fighters. It was a struggle ... I was so torn. I prayed about it and talked with my family,” before proceeding to apply.

“By the time it came down to it, I had reached a resolve with myself that I did want to be considered,” he said.

Matherly said he’s ready to take on the new challenge of 911 and the ever-changing technology. Later this year there will be a Computer Aided Dispatch update and other changes around the corner, including texting 911 and video calls.

In addition to Matherly and the four members on the search committee, other 911 board members are Johnson City Police Chief Karl Turner, Johnson City Fire Chief Jim Stables, County Commissioner Mike Ford — who runs the Washington County Detention Center kitchen — and Harmon Mathis, who is a Washington County sheriff’s deputy who works courthouse security. Board members are appointed by the county mayor and serve until they resign.

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