DES Coordinator Cheri Kilby announces retirement

By: 
Charlie Denison
Reporter

Fergus County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Cheri Kilby stands by her office door Monday morning in the basement of the Sheriff’s Complex. Kilby has announced her retirement form the position. Her last day is April 7.

Photo by Charlie Denison

When one door closes, another opens.

That’s what Fergus County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Cheri Kilby had to say when addressing her decision to retire.

“I liked working with the first responders and liked making their job easier,” Kilby said. “This job was really never about me, it was about them, and I’ll miss the partnership.”

A department head for the past 10 years, Kilby said she is proud of much of her work and is sad to leave it behind her.

“I used to joke with my husband, Mike, this was the job I was born to do,” Kilby said.

Kilby, however, is a woman of many trades. In Musselshell County, where Kilby resided before moving to Lewistown, Kilby worked in the newspaper industry, floral industry, managed a supply store and worked other jobs as well. Working as DES coordinator, however, was perhaps her favorite job of all, as it was rewarding work that made a difference.

There have been good times and bad, and the bad times were the test. Because her job focused on disaster preparation, Kilby said it was difficult and stressful work, but she was glad to be in a position where she could help provide assistance during such trying times as the floods of 2011 and 2013.

“This was not easy work, but thanks to the excellent, professional first responders we have here, we were able to really do some good,” Kilby said.

As DES Coordinator, Kilby put together a pre-disaster mitigation grant, organized the Local Emergency Planning Committee, established evacuation plans, trained school officials and emergency responders, updated the Emergency Operations center, developed a safety program for Fergus County and installed standard operating guidelines for public information (including CodeRed, a weather warning emergency notification system).

“It’s taken a lot of hard work,” Kilby said. “Hopefully everything I’ve built will continue to be built upon.”

Kilby’s last day in office is Friday, April 7. Fergus County Planning Director Pam Vosen will assume to role of interim DES coordinator until a replacement is found. Deputy Coordinator Bob Thompson is also retiring.

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