Judge executive says high expectations among reasons for $80K salary for new E-911 director

MARSHALL COUNTY, KY — High expectations and better qualifications are why Marshall County’s judge executive says the county is paying its new E-911 director tens of thousands of dollars more than the two previous directors.

The fiscal court held a special called meeting Monday night to talk to the community about their questions and concerns about the new director, Chris Freeman. His starting salary is $80,000, which is $30,000 more than the previous two directors, LaDonna Coriell and Misty Drew.

Judge Executive Kevin Neal says the money will come from the county’s occupational tax. Why the $30,000 bump in pay for the position? Neal told residents at the meeting that the fiscal court has set high expectations for Freeman — including creating a funding plan for 911 and developing a new, regional 911 service center — that justify the pay hike.

Freeman and the fiscal court had to answer a few tough questions on Freeman’s first day. Freeman answered what he could, but he and the fiscal court members let the judge answer most of the questions. Neal defended Freeman’s salary after community members took to social media to express their concerns.

“The bashing on social media, what does that say for our community? I’m not going to let those that are uneducated bash somebody that this fiscal court stands behind, determine who we are as a community,” Neal says.

Another big topic discussed Monday night was expanding 911 emergency services by building a regional facility from the ground up.

“The director can do nothing without the dispatcher, and that’s the first thing I want to focus on is bringing them up to the level that they need to be to be compensated to do that job inside a regional center where they’re dealing with more than one county,” Freeman says.

Freeman’s now looking forward to taking on the challenges he agreed to tackle when he took the job offer.

“To be able to have that support to reach out, regionalize, and get a couple involved, and do it the right way — was the intrigue for me,” Freeman says.

Freeman plans on hitting the ground running Tuesday by working on writing a grant that will help secure $40,000 for a new piece of emergency equipment.  He says plans to implement a new policy and training to help bring missing or runaway kids home to their families. He also says he wants better technology to locate cell phone 911 calls and the ability to text 911.

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