HELENA – Lewis and Clark County’s new disaster and emergency services coordinator had his first day on the job Monday.

Reese Martin comes to Helena after a 20-year career in law enforcement. He said he has been trying for years to move into the emergency management field, and that this job was the perfect opportunity.

“My family wanted to get into an area where there are some mountains, some clean air,” he said. “It was a godsend for my family.”

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Martin most recently served as interim police chief and emergency management coordinator of Galena Park, Texas, a city about 11,000 people just outside Houston. Last year, he helped coordinate the city’s response to Hurricane Harvey and the severe flooding that followed it.

Martin said he hopes to learn more about wildfires and other threats in the Helena area by working closely with the emergency responders who’ve had experience with them. He had his first meeting with local fire chiefs Monday night.

Martin is taking over for longtime county DES coordinator Paul Spengler, who served in the position for more than 20 years. He said he’s been impressed by the work Spengler did, and that he wants to continue building on that success.

One of Martin’s priorities will be upgrading the county’s emergency notification procedures.

“A lot of people are using different technology to get their information, and I hope to move the emergency notifications into that realm,” he said.

Martin said he’s grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Lewis and Clark County.

“Hopefully I’ll get out and meet a lot more people in person, and hopefully you’ll be satisfied with my work,” he said.

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