Harrison County Hires Colonel To Run Civil Defense

Joe Spraggins has worn a military uniform since he was 19-years-old. Now he believes, "It's time for a new challenge."

So, Col. Spraggins is about to retire from the Air National Guard. He'll box up his office momentos, and put them in storage. And then he'll fly right into the eye of future hurricanes.

Harrison County just hired Spraggins to be its civil defense director.

"My intention is to start back over as the second lieutenant and move up," he said.

Spraggins is moving to an office at the Harrison County courthouse with a wealth of experienced hurricane veterans. The fire, police, and other personnel assigned to the Emergency Operations Center during storms are all considered experts in their fields. So Spraggins' plan is to combine their expertise with his military management skills.

"Crisis management, that's what a hurricane is," he said. "You have crisis management at that point to make a decision. Well, that's the military's way. And I've got 33 years of crisis management."

That sort of war room experience was one of the reasons supervisors unanimously chose Spraggins to head up their emergency operations center. The Colonel said his next mission is to make sure his new civilian squadron does everything it can to protect Harrison County residents.

"I want everybody in America to look back and say Harrison County, if you want to know civil defense, go to Harrison County, Mississippi. There is where you can get your model," he said.

Harrison County will pay Col. Spraggins $50,000 a year to be its civil defense director. Once the 52-year-old retires from active duty, Spraggins will actually be promoted to brigadier general in the National Guard reserves.