Stone County Emergency Management Agency’s Director Raven James is retiring after nearly 24 years on the job. James’ resignation letter was accepted reluctantly by the Board of Supervisors on Monday, April 5 at the regular board meeting.

“I can’t imagine an emergency without Raven James,” said Nell Murray, who has managed storm recoveries in the past.

As EMA director, James’ primary duty has been to prepare, respond and recover from any type of disasters that occur in Stone County.

He has responded to and prepared for severe weather emergencies like tornadoes, floods, and large fires.

James has provided emergency help to residents through countless hurricanes, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and most recently, Hurricane Zeta.

James has incurred many awards for his outstanding service.

He was named the 2020 First Responder of the Year by Keesler Federal Credit Union.

In 2018, James was honored for his work with the fire department.

In 2012, the Mississippi Civil Defense and Emergency Management Association named James manager of the year for Mississippi.

James has also been responsible for distributing thousands of masks and other personal protective gear throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

James said the past year has been hard on him.

“It was really on my mind last year, but time is bringing about changes,” James said at the board meeting.“This COVID probably pushed me over the edge.”

James said he will help his replacement adjust to his former role.

“I am more than willing to do what it takes to get that person aboard,” James said.

James said he plans to spend his retirement working on his land and spending time on his hobbies.

“I hate to see him go,” Board President Lance Pearson said. “He has been a great asset.”

Pearson said he hopes the board will make a quick decision so James can help train his replacement.

“We’ve got a month to decide,” Pearson said.

Pearson joked the board would pass a resolution that would require James to stay in the county if a disaster happened.

“Raven was the preventer, everybody else dealt with the aftermath,” he said. “Raven has always kept us up to par and kept everything running.”

James' last day will be June 30th, 2021.

The board recessed until April 9, to attend a leadership conference on Friday.

The next regular board meeting will take place at 9 a.m. on Monday, April 19, 2021 at the Stone County Courthouse.

The Board also:

Approved a request to compensate a Stone Stone County Sheriff’s Department patrol deputy for leave.

Approved payroll reports for the SCSD and for the Stone County Regional Correctional Facility.

Approved reimbursement of fuel for officer Thomas Hutchinson.

Approved all routine inventory deletions.

Tabled a request for $500 to sponsor the Dizzy Dean locker at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

Approved a request from O’Neal-Bond Engineering to request bids for roadwork.

Voted to purchase about three acres near Red Creek at no cost other than $1,000 in administration costs.

Tabled a decision to appoint one library board member.

Discussed resolving a trash problem near DeSoto Road.

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