OSWEGO, NY – The past, present and future of the county’s 9-1-1 department gathered at this week’s legislature meeting.
Mike Allen started working for the county employed by the Highway Department in a summer job, County Administrator Phil Church said.
From there, Allen moved to work at the landfill, then on to the energy recovery facility and then to the Central Services Department. And finally – 9-1-1. He moved up through the ranks and became director. The person he succeeded, the county’s first 9-1-1 director, Robert Hayes Sr., is currently the legislator representing District 10.
Hayes and his fellow legislators recognized Allen on his retirement.
And, as the first order of business, legislators approved Kevin Pooley of Hastings as the new 9-1-1 director. Pooley, currently the deputy director, is the county’s third director of the department.
The deputy director position will remain vacant and be removed from the 2018 budget.
The legacy that Allen left behind in all his jobs was that he improved processes, usually through technology and re-examining how things were done, the county administrator said.
“Mike is very successful at getting grants. Since being director, he brought in $11.4 million in grants. In perspective, if he hadn’t – the legislature would have been approving budgets the past 11 years with a property tax levy 2 percent higher every year,” Church pointed out.
Allen also rebuilt the county’s emergency communication system; all the towers and modernized them to mandates to cover 95 percent of the county for people who need to call for help.
He also went beyond his regular job duties and had a vision of what 9-1-1 was. He was instrumental forming a consortium where several counties shared resources, ideas and money.
Not only has he done a great job here but he’s been recognized by his peers, Church added. At the 9-1-1 Coordinators’ Association recent meeting, Allen received two standing ovations from his peers around the state.
“I’m not happy you’re leaving. I am happy that today we are honoring you because all the students are here,” Church said, noting the May meeting is Youth In Government Day.
Over the next five years the students are going to have to make some decisions about the courses they take that will lead them to a job and career eventually, he told the students.
“You’ll change your mind a lot, but that’s OK. As you’re thinking about jobs and careers, there are two approaches to a job or career. You can measure a successful career as having a job where you go to in the morning, come home from at night, and provide for yourself and your family. Others want to do that plus approach their careers by wanting to help others and do something for their community. Mike Allen is a guy like that. He’s someone to look up to,” Church said.
“What he does is coordinate the office that answers those calls for help and makes sure the fire, ambulance and EMTs get to people who need help.
It’s a daunting task – his office has answered the call for help from more than one million people,” he continued. “Mike will credit his staff. So will I. But, it’s Mike who sends the direction, makes the goals and makes sure everyone takes their job seriously. All those callers and all of us owe Mike a debt of gratitude for that. I want to thank you for all the service you’ve given us, the example you set for young people and your dedication.”
“I have had the pleasure of working with many legislators, in this room and some that are no longer with us. For their guidance and support, I am very appreciative,” Allen said. “The reality of it is, it’s been an absolute honor to work for each and every one of you and each and every one of you folks out there,” he added, gesturing to the audience and beyond.
“I just can’t say enough about the experience I’ve had working for Oswego County. I’ve enjoyed my job every single day and I will miss everyone. In all honesty it has been an absolute honor working for each and every one of you,” Allen said. “There is a lot of work left to be done. I hope you and my successor continue that work.”