McHargue Moves On to Homeland Position
“It’s like herding cats.”
“It’s like hanging a pork chop around my neck to see who will come play with me.”
These are just a couple of quotes from Mike McHargue, the Director of the Lake County Office of Emergency Management (LCOEM) who officially announced his resignation on Monday, June 17. And while McHargue’s tongue-in-cheek comments describing his role as chief congealer were often the ice-breakers in a room full of emergency responders and community stakeholders, the results his leadership yielded during his nine-year tenancy will likely turn out to be the brick builders that Lake County will be grateful for in the years to come concerning how emergencies are managed in Leadville Today (LT).
In an official statement released to Leadville Today on Monday, McHargue stated:
“My last day of employment by Lake County government will be 30 June 2019 as I transition to the Colorado Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management as the South Central Regional Field Manager.”
His last day, in fact, will officially close out exactly nine years of service to Lake County. But to say that McHargue laid the foundation for the most stable and sustainable local organizational model would be an understatement. To say that McHargue successfully gathered the key players – many of whom don’t always play so nicely together – year after year to exchange information and stay on course for regulatory and granting deadlines when it comes to emergency services, would be like not telling the whole story. And to say he did it during a time when local law enforcement agencies were not exemplifying their most honorable attributes, and emergency services were struggling to keep staff and budgets afloat, would be like making a molehill out of a mountain. Because McHargue did all that, and then some.
Mike McHargue came onboard as the LCOEM Director in July 2010 and his military leadership skills and West Point measure of reference were immediately noticeable. At a time when Lake County growth was in another boom cycle, but local budgets hadn’t quite caught up yet, McHargue got the job done and moved forward this community’s preparedness by leaps and bounds.
In his own words:
“On July 1, 2010 I assumed the duties and responsibilities of the emergency manager for Lake County and the City of Leadville. In that time, I have had the pleasure of working with some truly outstanding people in our county and city government as well as partners at the state and federal level, faith-based, non-governmental and Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with dedicated professionals and selfless volunteers to help build a more resilient community. We have responded to numerous incidents and events together and I will continue to support Lake County in my new capacity as Regional Field Manager.”
Quite frankly, it’s a humble overview for a leader who saw Lake County through some of its biggest challenges, from the 2012 Treasure Wildfire, America’s highest to date; to countless search and rescue missions – some that had happy endings, and some that didn’t; to a missing CMC student that had a tragic conclusion, to the most recent, historic avalanche season in Colorado history, McHargue has consistently demonstrated the kind of leadership that you want in emergencies. And that will be missed. Which was why it was good news to hear McHargue report:
“I will still be in contact with the majority of you in this new capacity; however, my role has a much larger focus encompassing five counties and assisting with additional resources to respond to incidents as well as assisting in maintaining a comprehensive emergency management program. In the coming days, I will be transitioning on-going Office of Emergency Management projects and tasks to Cailee Hamm. Please support Cailee in this critical transition to the Director of the Office of Emergency Management.”
McHargue continued, “Similar to my predecessor, Mark Boley, I will assist with the Emergency Management Program Grant, resource mobilization, plans and policies, exercise and training and incident response as well as other support for all the components of a comprehensive emergency management program (prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery). While I am moving to a new role outside the county, I believe this will facilitate a larger overall positive impact on Lake County and the City of Leadville as we work together to make our communities prepared, safer, and more resilient in the face of emergency situations.”
“I am grateful to everyone who has assisted me in my current role and look forward to continuing my work with those who will keep the safety of our community a top priority.”
It’s good to know that McHargue won’t be going far. There are significant changes on Leadville’s horizons when it comes to emergency management. From two new emergency facilities in the planning stages to two new leaders in law enforcement’s top positions, it’s clear that the chess pieces are shifting once again. And while change is inevitable, assuring that these organizations, departments, and stakeholders do not retreat into their former zone-style defense mode by simply advocating for their own agendas and budgets rather than the common good, is critical.
Fortunately, during his nine years of service to Lake County, McHargue did a good job teaching a few old cats some new tricks, as well as passing along a few wrangling tips to his colleagues. But still, his leadership will be missed; it’s just good to know it won’t be completely over-and-out. Good luck, McHargue!