NEMA hires two new county directors

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency recently announced that it hired new directors for Richardson County and Chase County to replace two outgoing retirees.

In the January 16 edition of its newsletter The Beacon, NEMA announced the retirement of Jim Gerweck as the director of Richardson County Emergency Management. Gerweck spent 30 years with NEMA after starting as a deputy for Richardson County in 1983.

"It was a pleasure to help people make (Nebraska) a better, safer place," Gerweck said. "People think because you have the title of emergency manager that means you can fix everything. There is no magic wand. You can influence but you can't control everything. The best you can do is mitigate, but you're not going to stop the Missouri River from flooding."

Brian Dixon, the deputy director for Richardson County Emergency Management since May, will replace Gerweck as director. He previously worked as a paramedic specializing in disaster response in Portland, Ore., and Omaha.

"My background in public safety will serve me well as an emergency manager," Dixon said. "I have first-hand disaster experience because I've been the guy at the scene."

NEMA also announced the retirement of Paul Kunneman, the director of the Chase County Emergency Management Agency, after 25 years on the job. Kunneman said the biggest change in his job over the years occurred after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

"The biggest change came after September 11," Kunneman said. "We moved more toward homeland security. Before that it was fairly simple; we took care of local stuff and chased storms."

Duane Dreiling, who worked as deputy director for the county for the last seven years, will serve as part-time director.

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency is the state body charged with reducing the vulnerabilities of communities and Nebraskans from the damage, injury and loss of life and property resulting from emergencies and technological, natural and man-made disasters.