Hays County emergency services director steps up to state level

Submitted report

A longtime Hays County Emergency Management (EM) official will soon take her talents to the state level.

On July 23, Hays County Commissioners accepted the resignation of Kharley Bagley Smith, current Emergency Services Director, who recently accepted a role with the newly created State Division of Emergency Management (SDEM). Smith’s resignation goes into effect July 31.

Commissioners also appointed Justin McInnis, current EM assistant director, as the interim leader of the deparmtenet.

With the SDEM, Smith will lead the statewide Disaster Recovery Task Force. In a statement, Smith said she was honored to be offered the position, but will miss “all of the talented, hard-working first responders, emergency personnel and elected officials” she interacted with.

“I’m thankful for the cooperation that exists in emergency management throughout our county – that’s not something you find everywhere, but it is critical to successful emergency preparedness and disaster recovery,” Smith said. “The county works as a team member with cities, emergency services districts and nonprofits for the benefit of our citizens.”

Commissioners Court members thanked Smith for her dedication and recalled instances in which her training and experience served the county’s residents well.

“The State of Texas made a very, very good choice,” Hays County Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones said.

Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner Lon Shell said Smith did an “incredible job,” but said he was sorry to see her go.

“She’ll be an amazing asset to the State of Texas,” Shell said. He referenced Smith’s efforts during the receovery period following the 2015 Memorial Day flood in the Wimberley area.

Smith was appointed Emergency Management Coordinator in November 2012 and was named Director of the Office of Emergency Services in April 2016. She coordinated response and recovery efforts for the October 2013 flood and two major flood events in 2015, along with numerous less publicized emergencies ranging from wildfires to gas leaks.

Along the way she became nationally recognized for her work in developing the Standard Response Protocol Task Force, which implemented safety protocols for every public and private school in Hays County as well as many government offices and businesses.

Smith developed the HaysInformed.com website which shares emergency information countywide for residents and visitors and which allows designated personnel throughout the county to post information. Smith is a founding member of the Texas Emergency Management Assistance Team and is currently Chair of the Capital Area Criminal Justice Advisory Council and Vice Chair of the Capital Area Homeland Security Taskforce.

Smith and her team have received numerous awards, most recently the 2019 Emergency Management Association of Texas Excellence in Emergency Management Award for the County’s “superb emergency management program.”

Smith joined Hays County in 2001 as an Emergency Communications Officer in the Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center, and before that worked at Texas State University Police Department’s Dispatch Center while obtaining a degree in Public Administration.

She also served the county as the Strategic National Stockpile Coordinator for the Local Health Department’s Emergency Preparedness Office before being named Emergency Management Coordinator.

McInnis joined the county as the Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator in 2016 and was named Assistant Director in 2018. He previously worked for the U.S. Geological Survey as a hydrographer.

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