CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. – Brunswick County Commissioner Frank Williams completed his term as President of the N.C. Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) at the association’s annual conference in Cabarrus County on Saturday, August 13, 2022. Williams, who was the 105th NCACC President, is the first from Brunswick County.
“It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to serve as the 105th NCACC President and as the first from Brunswick County,” said Williams. “County governments are where the rubber meets the road, and while North Carolina’s 100 counties have many differences, we also work together through the NCACC to address a number of common challenges that affect every county in North Carolina.”
Williams’ Presidential Initiative, 100 Counties Prepared, was borne out of his experience serving as Chair of the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners during Hurricanes Florence, Dorian, and Isaias, through which he observed a lack of emergency preparedness training suitable for elected officials. He announced the initiative shortly after being installed as President on August 14, 2021 in New Hanover County, and appointed a statewide task force co-chaired by Brunswick County Board of Commissioners Chairman Randy Thompson and Guilford County Commissioner Kay Cashion shortly thereafter.
“County governments perform a number of important functions, but the stakes are higher during an emergency,” said Williams. “Through my experience serving as Chair of the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners during multiple hurricanes, including Florence, I observed that our staff was well trained, but there was little to no emergency preparedness training suitable for elected officials. A county commissioner’s role in an emergency situation is far different than that of our professional staff, and it is important for elected officials to have a clear understanding of what their role is and is not. We created the 100 Counties Prepared initiative to fill that training void.”
Over the course of Williams’ year as president, the task force worked with NCACC staff to develop a full day of emergency preparedness training for elected officials. Sixty-one county officials from across North Carolina completed the inaugural 100 Counties Prepared Emergency Preparedness Training for County Commissioners, which was held in conjunction with the 115th Annual NCACC Conference in Cabarrus County on August 11, 2022.
“Thanks to the hard work of our task force and NCACC staff and the commitment of the county officials who completed our first class, we have taken a major step toward filling the training void that I observed during Hurricane Florence,” said Williams. “I commend every county commissioner and county official who completed this class for their willingness to strengthen their knowledge and skills to equip themselves to lead more effectively when it matters the most.”
N.C. Director of Emergency Management Will Ray joined then-President Williams in signing certificates of completion for all attendees. Director Ray also provided a video keynote address in which he stated, “Thank you to Commissioner Williams and to the 100 Counties Prepared task force co-chairs and members for the important work done on this critical initiative. This training course is a vital piece to continuing the sustainment and improvement of emergency preparedness across our state. We know that we will continue to have events and incidents that impact North Carolina that will be across all hazards, and we will need counties’ continued partnership, standing shoulder-to-shoulder together as we continue to serve our communities.”
Director Ray presented then-President Williams, Task Force Co-Chairs Cashion and Thompson, and NCACC Director of Policy Planning Laurel Edwards, who served as the staff point person for the initiative, with N.C. Emergency Management Director’s Award Challenge Coins. According to Director Ray, the front of the coin features the N.C. Emergency Management triangle logo with text “Presented for Excellence” and the State motto, Esse Quam Videri, “To be, rather than to seem.” The back features scenes of the mountains and the sea with Emergency Management at the center to remind us of the 10.5 million North Carolinians we serve every day.
The full day of training included:
- A high-level overview of the complex myriad of legal terminology, roles, and responsibilities related to emergency preparedness and management presented by Kate Van Tol, N.C. Emergency Management Legal Fellow.
- A discussion about the proper role of commissioners in the emergency management process led by Brunswick County Commissioner Randy Thompson and Washington County Commissioner Ann Keyes, both of whom are retired county-level emergency managers.
- A session on crisis communication led by Julie Parker of Julie Parker Communications and Meagan Kascsak, Brunswick County’s Director of Communications.
- A panel discussion featuring former N.C. Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry and former FEMA Director Brock Long.
Williams also had several opportunities to discuss emergency preparedness on a national stage during his presidency. On February 11, 2022, he participated in a panel discussion entitled “Intergovernmental Roundtable on Disaster Resiliency” in Washington, D.C. The event was held as part of the National Association of Counties (NaCo) Legislative Conference and was co-sponsored by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Additionally, he facilitated a session at the NaCo annual conference annual conference in Aurora, CO entitled “Proactive Leadership in Crisis: Supporting Your Community Through a Disaster” with former FEMA administrator and Catawba County resident Brock Long.
For more information about the 100 Counties Prepared initiative, please visit www.100countiesprepared.com.