SNOW HILL — Worcester County will once again promote from within to replace a retiring department head.
Teresa Owens, emergency services director for Worcester, will be retiring next month after 35 years with the county. Upon her departure, Emergency Services Assistant Director Fred Webster will step in.
Owens has been with Worcester County Emergency Services (WCES) since 1978, becoming director 18 years later when the County Commission promoted her to the top spot in 1996. During her tenure, Owens has served as the county’s emergency management director and on the Emergency Number Systems Board (ENSB) and the Governor’s Emergency Management Advisory Council (GEMAC), both governor-appointed state board positions.
As WCES director, Owens leads the 911 Communications Center and the Information Technology Division while coordinating disaster planning, response and recovery, and any other emergency fields.
Commission President Bud Church commended Owens this week on her quick-footedness during emergencies and ability to immediately adapt no matter the disaster.
“That’s a very tough department and a huge amount of responsibility. You can go from a very quiet day to a hurricane when everything is cracking and everything you do is scrutinized,” he said. “You never know what’s going to be needed and she had handled all of it as a true professional.”
One of the high marks of Owens career was WCES’ designation as one of only 17 jurisdictions in the nation charged with developing an “interoperability network.” That network makes it possible for emergency responders from different agencies to stay in communication while managing emergencies.
Owens is also the current project manager for the Maryland Eastern Shore Interoperability Network while also managing the State Homeland Security Grant Programs.
“She’s going to be missed but she’s earned a right and the privilege to enjoy her retirement,” said Church. “I think she deserves that; she’s gone far and above with 35 years of service to the county … She is leaving us in good hands with Fred. Fred knows all of the ins and outs of being the emergency services department head.”
Webster will be ascending to Owens’ position after her retirement becomes effective in late June. While he doesn’t have as many years with the county as Owens, Webster will be bringing in many years of varied experience.