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New chairman of state Emergency Management Council elected


Averill holds the gavel after being elected chairman of the state Emergency Management Council.

New chairman of state Emergency Management Council elected

The Washington Emergency Management Council elected Ron Averill of Centralia as its new chairman during a public meeting on March 3. Averill is a former Lewis County commissioner and is the official representative of the Washington State Association of Counties on the advisory council. He’s also a retired U.S. Army colonel.

The Emergency Management Council was created by statute to advise the governor and The Adjutant General on all matters pertaining to state and local emergency management. It meets regularly at Camp Murray to discuss emergency management-related policies, strategies and potential grants.

Minutes of previous meetings can be accessed here.

Averill, a graduate of the University of Southern California, was commissioned into the U.S. Army in 1959, where he served two tours in Vietnam, was a commander at the battalion and brigade level and ultimately retired a decorated colonel, most notably receiving the Bronze star twice for meritorious service.

Averill’s first job after Army retirement was with the state of Hawaii Military Department Division of Civil Defense. He was an emergency management planner at the state level for two years. Later, he went into higher education where he was a professor of political science and international relations at Hawaii Pacific University and, in 1992, South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia. In 2000, he became Dean of Social Sciences at SPSCC.

He served on the Lewis County Commission from November 2006 to December 2012. Despite no longer holding public office, he’s still active in the community, serving on the Chehalis Basin Flood Authority and working on issues with the Washington State Association of Counties.

Averill says the floods in 2007, which closed Interstate 5 at Centralia, gave him a crash course on what  the Washington Emergency Management Division is all about and made him want to understand the state’s role and how it works with local jurisdictions. Under his leadership, Lewis County vastly improved its early warning and response capability, updated county emergency management plans, and worked closely with federal, state and local governments and agencies in the preparation, implementation and recovery from major disasters.

“I was smart enough to buy at over 200-foot elevation and have not personally flooded, although I have been trapped on the hill on several occasions and, yes, I have emergency preparedness supplies and equipment,” Averill said.

He’s served on the Emergency Management Council since 2010, first appointed by then-Gov. Chris Gregoire. He says he wants to work on communication issues as well, better dissemination of annual reports to the governor and looking at ensuring rural county needs are met.

“The EMC is an advisory board to the TAG and the Governor on Emergency Management, not an operating agency,” Averill said. “We need to remember that all of the members of the Council have full time jobs and responsibilities, so their responsibility of articulating policy, system challenges, intergovernmental coordination and funding needs requires adequate staff support to provide the documentation.”

More biography information on Averill here and here.