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Red Cross searches for new Oktibbeha leader


Tim Pratt



The American Red Cross is looking for someone to manage its Oktibbeha County office. 


Although plans are in the works to keep just one Red Cross office open in the Golden Triangle -- offices currently are located in Oktibbeha, Lowndes and Clay counties -- state Red Cross officials hope to find someone to replace former Oktibbeha County Red Cross Director Becky Wilkes, who resigned amid a statewide organizational realignment and spent her last day in office July 13. Program coordinator Connie Malone also resigned. 


The American Red Cross is looking for one full-time employee to take over the Oktibbeha County Red Cross office and manage volunteers, respond to emergencies and provide services to disaster victims, among other duties. 


"We''re in the process right now of advertising for that position," said Mark Smith, interim state chief executive officer of the American Red Cross.  


Smith and interim marketing director for the American Red Cross in Mississippi, Paige Roberts, met Friday morning with Oktibbeha County officials to reassure them of the Red Cross'' presence and commitment to local residents.  


"The Red Cross is here and is going to stay," Smith said Friday afternoon.  


When asked when the Red Cross will decide which office will remain open in the Golden Triangle, Smith said he is unsure. 


"I haven''t set a timeline," he said. "I''m more wanting to make sure the community is involved and engaged and working with us as we continue to provide services." 


Volunteers from the Oktibbeha County office of the American Red Cross, now under the jurisdiction of the Northeast Mississippi Red Cross chapter in Tupelo, responded last week to a residential fire on Self Creek Road, which displaced five residents. Oktibbeha County Red Cross volunteers also responded to a residential fire this week in Sturgis. 


Smith and Roberts plan to meet Tuesday with the Starkville Board of Aldermen to pledge the Red Cross'' commitment to emergency response services in this area, Roberts said. The pair plans to meet with the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors Aug. 2.  


Earlier this month, supervisors approved a resolution of intent to form a new, yet-to-be-named organization which would operate as a branch of the Oktibbeha County Emergency Management Office. The organization would respond to fires and natural disasters, much like the Red Cross does, and provide food, shelter, clothing and other services, Wilkes said. 


Wilkes and former Oktibbeha County Red Cross program coordinator Connie Malone, both of whom resigned from their positions amid the statewide Red Cross realignment, plan to spearhead the new organization. Wilkes pledges that she is dedicated to serving the community, but said she has become frustrated with national and state Red Cross leadership.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment wharp commented at 7/18/2010 1:10:00 AM:

It is really bad to see Becky leave the Red Cross, and I know shemust have been frustrated, at the realignment plans. I am sorry the starkville Red Cross is not sure if they will remain open. They have been so much help to so many people.


Article Comment msudad commented at 7/18/2010 10:11:00 PM:

Becky Wilkes did a great job for the Red Cross. Starkville has always done a great job supporting this organization. I would hate to see that office closed; I don't think the support would be there if they close the county office. Hate to see a well run, highly supported county office closed.


Article Comment paladin commented at 7/19/2010 10:22:00 PM:

I'm confused....

They are trying to hire someone for Oktibbeha County, but the second sentence says that they are only keeping one office open in the Golden Triangle. So they are going to hire someone & then let him/her go?

Something smells fishy.


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