Bob Langhi became the county’s emergency manager and Adam Lyon his assistant after Eric Nelson announced he would step aside.
Nelson, a retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force and an ordained minister, announced he has accepted the full-time pastorate at Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church. However, he said he will be available to assist as a volunteer in emergencies.
“I just don’t have enough time in the day to do right by everyone, so it was a blessing when Bob came this way,” Nelson said. “Lyon County has a better man at the helm of emergency management than they have ever had in Bob Langhi. I’ve watched him work for more than a month. He’s sharp, motivated, dedicated, and he’s already mastered all the technology.”
Nelson said it has “been a pleasure serving Lyon County as emergency manager for nearly two years.”
He expressed appreciation to Judge-Executive Wade White “for his confidence in me.”
“I worked directly for three four-star generals in my military career, and none of them were half the leader that Wade is,” he said.
“My hat goes off to the first responders, all of them, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the volunteer guys. ... They are tremendous professionals. Volunteer does not mean unprofessional.”
He voiced great respect for Sheriff Kent Murphy and his deputies, Eddyville Police Chief Shane Allison and his officers, and Lyon County Emergency Medical Services. And he offered kudos to Richard “Dickie” Smith, former emergency manager. “I’ve done this for nearly two years, and Dickie never let me fail,” Nelson said. “Without exception if it was something I hadn’t seen before ... Dickie just appeared out of the fog — he was there.”
White said Langhi has been helping the county off and on for the last year.
“He got involved with emergency management, and started working under Eric Nelson, did a fantastic job and things just worked together the way they needed to,” White said. “I’m looking forward to working with Bob; he’s done a lot of things and he’s a smart man, so I think we’ll be doing very well. He’s got a lot of good ideas.”
Langhi said Lyon’s emergency responders are prepared to deal with any emergency that might arise — natural or manmade.
“We are much better prepared from past experiences,” he said, referring to the 2009 ice storm and floods of recent years. He also noted the county is better able to use its own techology as well as that offered by the state. Langhi is working on a damage assessment computer program, White said. “It will integrate with our iPhones so that if something does happen we can quickly go out in the field and find out what the damages are. As we type that data into our iPhones, it will pop up on his screen, and he’ll be able to put a path together, and figure out what we are going to need.
“Our communications — one of the issues we were lacking during the ice storm — is what we’re working on,” White said. “We’re trying to figure out if (one system ) goes down, how do we get information out to the people? How do we find out what the damages are? And how do we help them? Bob’s coming up with all kinds of good ideas on that.” Langhi, a former electrical engineer at different chemical plants, feels his experience in that field would help him in the event of a hazardous materials spill on a highway or train derailment.
“With my past experiences working at different plants all over the United States — heavy duty chemical plants and light duty industrial plants — I’m very familiar with the consequences of a spill or a leak,” he said. “... We’re trying to hone in on those things to minimize the impact (such an event) could have on our community.”