By Mark Waite
Nye County commissioners promoted from within Tuesday, ratifying County Manager Pam Webster’s selection of Vance Payne to succeed Brent Jones as director of Nye County Emergency Management Services.
Payne was a Nye County workplace safety and training officer from April 2008 to February 2012. Before that he worked for more than four years as an inspector for SimplexGrinnell in Cincinnati, Ohio and Las Vegas. He began his career as a lieutenant/paramedic for the Beaver Creek, Ohio Fire Department from 1979 to 2004.
Payne said he has experience in the management of emergency responders, performed the duties of EMS director when Jones was absent and is an experienced adult learning instructor for public and municipal students.
Payne said he can perform the duties imposed by the county ordinance and has successfully investigated customer complaints. Payne said he has good communication skills, can perform the administrative functions and is experienced at advanced planning. Payne said he has an existing relationship with Nye County communities, fire departments, ambulance services and other county departments.
Nye County Commissioner Joni Eastley used the occasion to push for moving the county EMS department out of Pahrump. Eastley said there’s a volunteer crisis in other communities.
“I have never agreed with a department as far-reaching and as important as emergency management being located in Pahrump. The town of Pahrump does a very good job with fire rescue through their department, they provide their own training, they have a paid staff, they do a great job,” Eastley said.
Payne admitted it was a very big county with very diverse resources and diverse people.
“It absolutely demands that I be on the road, as well as the rest of staff of emergency management,” he said. “The volunteer crisis, I’m going to tell you straight up I don’t know that I have an answer.”
It’s a special person who volunteers to perform emergency functions, Payne said.
“What I’m looking for is a commitment from you that people in the communities are going to see you. That’s one of the biggest complaints I have about Nye County government,” Eastley told Payne. “I have nothing against Pahrump. This is a huge county and you cannot manage your departments from 200 miles away.”
Payne admitted EMS headquarters was based in Pahrump but most calls originate outside of town. But he said having a face-to-face relationship with different community officials would allow him to manage things from 200 miles away.
“I’m glad to tell you everyone knows me by name in every town, including the Duckwater reservation. The reason is that’s where the work is,” Payne said.
Commissioner Butch Borasky said he already asked those questions before the meeting.
“I’ll make it no secret I thought all along emergency services would be better if they were based in Beatty,” Borasky said.
As for the new EMS building on Siri Lane, Borasky said the county could use it for other purposes. He said the information technology director is using rental space right now, though county commissioners have talked about building office space for the IT director.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Vance before on the Willow Creek pond and what not and it was a pleasure working with him,” Borasky said.
In July 2009, after Shadow Mountain Christian Fellowship moved into the old Willow Creek clubhouse, Payne informed Pastor Lonnie Biggs that testing showed the ponds might pose a safety concern. That began an uproar over the condition of the ponds after the closure of the golf course.
During an incident on Mountain Springs Pass in August 2010, when Amargosa Valley firefighter Trevor Dolby staged a protest march and stripped down to his underwear, Payne handed him a set of blue, synthetic, plastic coveralls, according to Dolby’s account.
Some Amargosa Valley firefighters resigned rather than submit to serving under former EMS director Jones.
EMS administrator Kevin Kleinworth, in a follow-up letter to the editor in March, said rules and guidelines were needed for volunteer firefighters and paramedics. He said physicals are needed, firefighters are required to wear breathing apparatus to enter buildings, which puts a strain on the heart.
Webster notified county commissioners Jones was terminated May 2 after seven years with Nye County.
Payne will be paid $36 per hour, a much lower pay than Jones, she said. That’s a big raise from the $25.27 per hour he received in an annual pay raise in May 2011.