By Errol Castens
Daily Journal Oxford Bureau
OXFORD - It's almost a case of musical chairs.
The city of Oxford did not renew its emergency management interlocal agreement with Lafayette County after county officials declined to let the city be its lead agency.
Jimmy Allgood, who was Lafayette County's emergency management coordinator, left his job this week to take an interim position overseeing Oxford's new emergency management efforts.
The Board of Supervisors subsequently hired Jerry Johnson, who retired last year as Oxford's fire chief, to replace Allgood on an interim basis. Johnson has stated he will not seek the permanent position.
Years ago Oxford oversaw its own emergency management, but two years ago state law began to require counties to take the leading role. A revision that took effect this year enabled cities again to be the lead agency, but county officials resisted the switch.
"The city had an emergency management agency for a long, long time - long before the county did," said Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth.
"I told them that during the tornado (response) last year, everything went very smoothly, and until they could bring me something that would show me that things would run better with the city in the lead, I couldn't see any reason to support it," said Lafayette County Board of Supervisors President Lloyd Oliphant.
Jerry Johnson and Lafayette County Administrator Joseph Johnson (no relation) will meet with MEMA officials Monday to ensure that state records reflect the separate entities.
Howorth said because Oxford and the University of Mississippi are both densely populated and already share fire protection services, they will probably coordinate their emergency management efforts more closely now.
Because of Jerry Johnson's experience and contacts, county residents' emergency protection, Oliphant said, will "never miss a beat."