She was destined for a career in emergency management
Wednesday, June 25, 2014 10:00 PM
This week's guest told hubs and me that it seemed like every job she ever performed had lead her to her current one which she loves dearly. One, if not her first job, was working for Zach's Family Restaurant during her high school years. While working for us, she was an exceptional teenaged worker. During her time at CHS, she mainly took business courses, but wanted to be a dental assistant. After high school, she aided people with weight training at Elaine Powers in Kokomo, having moved there with her mother. Giving tours at the state house was next for four years, then a change of politics put Evan Bayh in office. Praising him for working with her as a single mom, she was given a job closer to home, working in the Welcome Center on the mile marker coming from Illinois to Indiana. Today, after spending ten years in the office, Shari McClure Harrington is the Director of Montgomery County's Health Department for her third year, and she, as when working for us, is a workaholic!
One item that impressed me when Shari worked for Zach's was her organization. The coffee cups were always stacked, the salad and pie case stocked-up and ready. Well, much of her job now is just that, having things on hand (H1N1 flu virus for example) to prepare for a problem. Training and exercising is one of the most important pieces of her job, thus her time at the Elaine Powers helps with knowledge in that area. Shari was able to go with a FEMA Team to aide in an 11,000 acre wildfire. Providing 750 firefighters food, showers and a place to sleep (one-person tents on a football field) was amazing work. It was like a little town. Everyone worked together to "make order out of chaos!"
Montgomery is a part of a nine-county Planning Council. This includes a Task Force; Fire; EMS (Ambulance) IMS (Incident Management, the mobile task team that gets responders what is needed) Tornado and Service and Support (provide enough things to care for ones' self for 72-hours). That high school business training comes in handy filling out the documentation and there certainly is a great deal of that. Speaking of 72-hours, there is only that amount of time to get an estimate to the state so it's a small threshold of time to get government money for help. She said she's learned to write an Emergency Declaration pretty quickly as time is of an essence. Documents might include pictures, forms, time cards and the like. Sad to say, there have been several disasters in our own area, including three tornadoes just last November. Shari said she is fortunate to have just hired a great assistant and is really looking forward to working with him.
During Hurricane Sandy, Shari worked on Long Beach in a four-mile range. The sand had to be scooped and shifted through because of glass and sharp objects. The pile was as tall as the Ben Hur building and went on for blocks. This wasn't even the debris - there were piles of that too. She said the team atmosphere with everyone working for the common good was just so exciting. Watching a community that had had no water, sewage or lights come back together was by all means worth working in the chaos.
Much of Shari's down time is spent on committees relating to the job (Local Emergency Planning Committee; HASMAT materials; All Hazard Incident Management Team Association). She does find time to enjoy her church, Calvary Chapel and gardening. Shari is a Master gardener. Spending time at Lake Raccoon with her best friend from Kindergarten is also fun time and of course mom-time with her three children, Travis age 28, who is a welder and fabricator at Boyd Hopper. He is married to Jamie, with two children. Jarrod, age 24, spent four years in the Army in South Korea. Currently, he works in one of the local factories, but is planning on going to college on the GI Bill. Sharlotte is 21 and is studying business administration. She has been a Colt's cheerleader.
I didn't know this until we had supper at the Pizza Hut (one of my fav hang-outs, in case you'd not noticed), but Shari also enjoys genealogy. One of her ancestors, John Counts had 21 kids. During the Depression, an Indian named L.L. Lightfoot went through the Ozark Mountains and drew the mountain people. John Counts was one of his subjects. John made fiddles out of corn stalks and horse hair. I was wowed! Her McClures were from Scotland, PA, next Anderson, Indiana then on to Montgomery County.
While leaving PH, there were 8-10 people saying, "Hey, Shari," or "Where ya' been Shari?" type things. It is obvious that she's a very popular lady. She's so cute and bouncy and loves life so that makes a whole lot of sense!
Beyond just popularity, as when Shari worked for us, she's a go-getter. Reading, taking classes, constantly seeking knowledge to do a better job, Shari is one of our several workers of whom Jim and I are quite proud and I greatly appreciate her meeting with us to hang-out and talk about the old times and the new. Thanks muches Shari for being the subject of this week's ATC!
Karen Zach is the editor of Montgomery Memories magazine and her column is published each Thursday in The Paper of Montgomery County.