ADA — Area emergency management is taking on a new look in 2006.

Two people will now fill the big shoes of longtime city of Ada and Pontotoc County Emergency Management Director John Burchett, who retired at the end of last year.

City of Ada Public Safety Director Gene Linton will assume emergency management duties for the city, while Chad Letellier will manage the county’s emergency situations. The two appear to have a good working relationship and are upbeat about the department’s future endeavors.

“John Burchett was absolutely brilliant in this capacity,” said Linton. “Chad and I aim to continue the excellent work he did here for 12 years.”

Burchett said he has unwavering confidence in the department’s new direction.

“The city and county are exceptionally fortunate to have such a great pair of guys to take over,” the former emergency management director said. “Since the terrorist attacks of 9-11, emergency management has become more demanding and complex, but these two men are very qualified to handle it. They’ll do a great job.”

Linton has worked in city emergency services for nearly 29 years. A former chief of the Ada Fire Department, he now serves as the city’s public safety director in addition to his new emergency management role. He also assisted Burchett for two years.

Letellier also wears other hats. He serves as the county’s public safety director and its flood plain administrator. He has also served as emergency management director for the town of Stonewall.

Both men bring public safety and emergency response experience to the joint Emergency Operations Center.

“We’ll each have separate responsibilities of course,” Letellier said. “But if a disaster strikes the city or the county, we will work as a team. We both know how to obtain the necessary resources in those situations and we’ll work together every step of the way.”

The EOC will remain in the basement of Ada City Hall, where it has been for many years. Both men will office there as well.

“Although our planning and mitigation would be distinct – mine city and his county – response and recovery will be a joint effort,” Linton said. “We’re interested in supporting each other. As a team, one of us can remain in the EOC while the other gets out in the field. Being one person, John was never able to do that.

“Ultimately, we’ll work together to ensure the safety and well-being of the people of the city and the county,” he said.