Following a major undertaking in preparing the parish for Hurricane Isaac and dealing with recovery in its aftermath, Scott Whelchel, the director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for St. Charles, is resigning.
Dow Chemical has tapped Whelchel to be their emergency services and security leader. Coincidentally he will again be following in the footsteps of Tab Troxler, his Homeland Security predecessor, who recently took over as the parish’s assessor after serving as the emergency services and security leader at Dow.
"Dow had a vacancy as a result of Mr. Troxler leaving and they expressed some interest and I thought it may be a good opportunity," Whelchel said.
Whelchel said his next career move, if there is one, will not come behind Troxler again.
"I have no aspirations for political office," he said.
Whelchel was the parish’s Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness director for over three years. Although a native of Broussard, he came to St. Charles Parish from a position at the Department of Defense in the Washington, D.C. area.
Over the past ten years, Whelchel said the Emergency Operations Center has been activated around ten times a year and that during his tenure that did not change.
"We’ve dealt with a number of different industrial emergencies, the high river event, the BP oil spill, Hurricane Isaac, a train derailment," Whelchel said.
Whelchel said he thinks the EOC under his leadership has seen a lot of progress.
"I think we’ve done some pretty good things bringing the program further along than it already was," Whelchel said. "We have some exciting things that have popped up–a new EOC building and a communications tower. We are continuing to push the envelope of what we can."
In a statement, Parish President V.J. St. Pierre agreed with Whelchel’s assessment of his time on the job.
"Scott has served the parish well in the short time he has been EOC director. He has definitely elevated the department to a new level. I’m sad to see him go, but his new job is a great opportunity," St. Pierre said. "We will miss him, but I am confident we’ll find someone just as passionate and qualified to fill this important position."
As far as his new position is concerned, Whelchel said he thinks he will fit in fine.
"It’s very similar, the functions are essentially the same," Whelchel said. "The goal of any industrial entity is that their impact on the community is zero."
The parish is currently advertising for the position on their website and in newspapers. The deadline for an application is Oct. 15.
Until the position is filled, senior emergency coordinator Jason Tastet will serve as the interim director of the department.