ELKINS - Cindy Hart is gearing up to take over as director of the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management, as Jim Wise leaves the position today.
Hart will begin her new duties Monday, and has spent the last two weeks orienting herself with the responsibilities of the position. She will also take over as Randolph County's 911 director, mapping and addressing coordinator and flood plain manager.
Hart previously served as the Barbour County OEM director, and said, after eight years in the field in Barbour and nearly 10 years in Webster County, she is fully prepared to take on the responsibilities in Randolph.
"I know what the job is and what responsibilities are included with it," she said Thursday. "I want to serve the needs of the citizens of Randolph County to the best of my ability. My number one priority going into this position is service to the people here."
Hart previously worked as a part-time paramedic with Randolph County EMS. She has taught EMT and CPR courses, as well as having worked with the paramedic program at Fairmont State. She also is certified by the National Incident Management System, which is funded through FEMA. She said her position in Randolph County will be similar to her previous experiences.
"A lot of it is the same," she said. "Because we work so closely together, sometimes the functions of certain counties mimic each other, and while there may be a difference in politics and a larger area to serve, the main purpose of the job doesn't change."
Hart has worked closely with Wise this week, shadowing him in preparation for her new position.
"Jim's a great organizer and one of his great strengths is maintaining a consistent flow of communication from the OEM office to the public and to all agencies throughout the county," Hart said. "That's one thing I want to commit to from day one: maintaining a transparent office. One of the first things is I am going to each emergency agency in the county and learn how they work, familiarize myself with the people and maintain an open line of communication."
Wise said working with Hart has been a "seamless transition."
"She knows this type of work," Wise said. "It matches her skill set very nicely and Randolph County is very fortunate to have her on board."
Wise has served as OEM director since Oct. 2, 2011 - his first week in the position happened to be the same week that Superstorm Sandy pounded the area. Wise described the experience as "a trial by fire."
"It has been rewarding and very challenging," Wise said. "I tried to move the agency forward to serve the citizens of the county the best that I could."
All in all, Hart is looking forward to getting to work.
"I'm excited to have this opportunity to make a positive difference within the county," she said. "I will strive to give the people who live in Randolph County my very best."