By Leah Sander
WARSAW — Ed Rock enjoys the unpredictability of his job as Kosciusko County Emergency Management Agency director.
“It may sound funny, but the part that I really love about this job is that I can walk in here … have a day scheduled and all of a sudden (I) don’t have that scheduled anymore because something happened,” he said. “And the not knowing what’s next, I find exhilarating. Even the 2 a.m. calls, I love those. That’s just the way I’ve always been is that I want to be out there, I want to be involved with it.”
The changeability of the job is what Rock will miss the most when he retires at the end of March after 20 years. Kip Shuter, who started work as the deputy EMA director in January, will take over then.
Rock is the county’s first-ever EMA director. He worked in safety beforehand and also has emergency experience from being a Mentone fireman for more than 40 years and having been both a Mentone Police Department and Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office reserve officer.
He also is contracted by the state to teach emergency response classes, which he hopes to still do after his retirement.
One aspect of being EMA director that Rock won’t miss is the paperwork.
“The actual documentation of plans is probably what I’m not going to miss a whole lot of because we get it done, but it’s really those conversations that take place to put it all together that are the critical part of it,” he said.
Looking back at his tenure as EMA director, Rock said he’s most proud of getting various emergency responders to work together and all the grant funding he’s secured for county emergency response needs.
“I figure I’m somewhere between $8 and $10 million worth of grants in that 20 years,” he said. “There was a commissioner that we had at one time that was kind of funny because he said, ‘Rock, when you quit bringing in more money than what we’re paying you, then you’re out of here,’ but the fact remains I have been fairly successful with writing grants and I like that.”
Rock isn’t leaving government work behind totally. He was chosen by GOP caucus last month to fill a vacancy on the Harrison Township Advisory Board.
Along with that role, he will keep busy by spending more time with his family. Rock’s been married to Lee Ann for 46 years, and they have two daughters, Maggie and Allison, and three grandchildren, with one on the way.
“I’m going to spend a little bit of time with the grandkids,” said Rock. “That’s going to be a big part of it because … we’ll have four, all girls, here shortly, and so spending some quality time with them will be a huge boon because some of them are in other states and so a little bit of travel involved.”