News: O-W-C Fire
Chief Named (Director - 2021)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Thornton, Ross
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 8/18/2021
O-W-C Fire Chief Named Clark County Emergency Management Director
Jason Thornton, previous fire chief for the Owen-Withee-Curtiss Fire and EMS District,
has been hired as Clark County emergency management director. He will continue to stay with the fire department as a volunteer. Cindy Cardinal/O-W Enterprise
By Valorie Brecht
Jason Thornton, Is taking on a new role as emergency management director for Clark County.
For the past four years, Thornton served full-time as Owen-Withee-Curtiss (O-W-C) fire chief. He has spent a total of 25 years in the fire service, with 18 of those for the O-W-C Fire and EMS District. He is continuing as a volunteer firefighter but not as chief anymore.
“With my prior fire and EMS experience, I thought I’d be good fit for the job. I knew what John [Ross, prior county emergency management director] used to do, so I threw my name in the hat for it,” said Thornton.
Ross resigned and his last day on the job was in mid-July. His first day on the job was this past Monday, Aug. 16.
Thornton expects his new position will be largely administrative in nature and will include lots of record keeping.
“I’ll be responsible for reporting storm damage, flooding and other things like that. Also, if there are serious hazardous material incidents within the county, I would respond to those incidents,” he said.
Another facet of his position will be emergency preparedness, which could include leading stimulations with businesses or municipalities, such as working with Abbyland foods for how to respond to an ammonia leak like what happened a few years ago.
“I’m going to be working with municipalities and businesses on their emergency preparedness plans making sure they’re updated and seeing if things need to change,” said Thornton.
In the event of a large emergency, Thornton would served as public spokesperson regarding the county’s response and would work with government agencies in coordinating that response.
“If there were to be a major incident, I will serve as liaison to state and federal agencies for getting resources not available in the county,” he said.
Ross had a part-time office assistant who is continuing in her role, so she will help Thornton get acclimated. He will also work with someone from Wisconsin Emergency management to learn more of the expectations of his job. He’s been in contact with emergency management directors from neighboring counties as will, and they are willing to serve as a resource for him.
“I’m looking forward to a different job and a different opportunity to advance and grow my career in emergency services,” said Thornton. “I’m looking forward to working with the various local municipalities and the other county departments.”
Thornton was born and raised in Stanley and graduated from Stanley-Boyd High School. He attended Chippewa Valley Technical College and received multiple certifications for firefighting and EMS. He and his wife, Samantha, and their 12-year-old daugher, Ashlynn, live in between Owen and Withee. Thornton and his wife own and operate IGYS Bar in Withee. When he is not working, Thornton enjoys camping, hunting and spending time with friends and family.
The O-W-C Fire and EMS District opened up the five-chief position to anyone who wanted to apply in-house. Interviews were scheduled for Aug. 16. If the position is not filled by someone in-house, it will be opened up to someone outside the department.
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