Be Prepared: Wright Is A Good Fit As Emergency Management Director


In 2010, when Brad Wright was 17 years old, he graduated from Clinton High School and started working as a jailor at the Henry County Jail. The jail was located on South Washington Street at that time. In 2011, the new jail was built across town, where he also worked.
Brad decided to move north to attend the Blue River Police Academy, then worked for police departments in Independence and the Jackson County area. He moved back to Clinton in 2017, and since last April, has been working where he started out, in the law enforcement building on Washington.
Only this time, he’s got the head office as the Emergency Management Director for Henry County.
Brad said he originally applied to work at the jail after high school because he knew he wanted to work in law enforcement. He moved back home to help out grandparents, James and Shirley Walters, on their farm, and commuted to work. It was a friend who works at the courthouse who saw the posting for the job of emergency management director, and suggested he apply.
“She said it would be a good fit,” Brad said.
Brad serves all of Henry County except the incorporated towns, Clinton, Deepwater and Blairstown. Mark Manuel, the Clinton Fire chief, is responsible for the city’s emergency management, Brad said. But having a good relationship with all the first responders is crucial to an organized response to an emergency or natural disaster, he said.
Is the area prepared for emergency situations?
“We are in good shape,” Brad said. “We review our emergency plan every two years, and just reviewed it in 2023.”
The most likely emergency the county will face are storms and severe weather with high winds, Brad said. With threats like flood, you have some warning that the water is rising, but weather is more unpredictable. His office has a head-start with its resident weather expert, Jim Sublette. Subby, as he is known, has extensively studied weather, especially the local weather. Many residents follow “Subby’s Weather Talk” on Facebook, where he gives a video weather update every few days.
Jim is also holding a Severe Weather Seminar on March 6. See information at end of article.
After Brad talked Jim into coming to work part time for EM, Jim brought a radar program to monitor the weather, and provides long-range forecasts for Brad’s office that give a heads-up if bad weather is on the way, which he shares with first responders.
“He is my weather guru,” Brad said. “His long-range forecasts are pretty accurate.”
Brad got first-hand experience of a weather emergency when he lived south of Oak Grove. On March 6, 2017, a EF-3 tornado touched down in the town. Brad and his family heard the sirens and got into the storm shelter, he said. His wife was nine months pregnant at the time, he said, but as a law enforcement officer, he told her had to go and see if he could help in the wake of the tornado.
“As I drove into Oak Grove, I could see there were just foundations where houses had been” Brad said. “We had 19 people injured, but we had no fatalities. We were lucky.”
The scare did not send his wife into premature labor, he said, but if it had, Brad would be been prepared — he’s delivered babies in what first responders call roadside deliveries.
Educating people about what to do in an emergency is part of his job, he said — if people know what to do, they won’t add to the problem by panicking. When you deliver a baby in an emergency situation, he said, you try to have everybody stay calm.
“But you are praying the whole time that the ambulance will be there soon,” he said.
In Clinton, if a wind storm wipes out power, the 911 center has back-up generators, as does the sheriff’s office and the jail. Brad says his office has mobile devices called hot boxes that will work if the cell towers are up.
Brad’s job in emergency management is to work with all parts of the community, from law enforcement, firefighters and EMS to utilities and public works departments.
“Our job is coordinating the effort, providing resources and making sure everybody is going in the right direction,” Brad said. “Everybody has a part to play.”
As well as tornadoes and storm damage, weather events include flood damage and drought, he said, noting that Missouri seems to have either one or the other. Wildfires are possible in wooded areas of the county, he said, and while earthquakes are not probable, he said, people did call in who felt the recent one.
Civil unrest is also unlikely, he said, but he works with school districts on security issues.
“The Henry County Emergency Operations Plan covers every possible scenario that you could think of,” he said. “We know our office is well-prepared.”
Henry County is required to review its emergency plans every two years, he said, and just did a review in 2023. Brad works with the LEPC, the Local Emergency Planning Commission, headed by Bruce Dewsberry. The LEPC focuses on hazardous materials containment and training, Brad said.
“Hazardous materials are more prevalent than most people think,” he said. “Any industrial facility, processing plant, gas station or grain elevator has them, as well as tankers going through the county on the highways.”
The LEPC just got a grant to buy pallets of hazardous material absorbent, which Brad said comes in 33-lb. bags and resembles kitty litter.
“We gave a pallet to the Clinton Fire Department, and to every fire department in Henry County,” Brad said. “It should last them a while.”
Some processing plants are required to have their own hazardous materials plan, he said.
As well as Jim Sublette, Brad has an intern, Niko Anderson, working with him. Niko is majoring in crisis and disaster management at the University of Central Missouri, and also works in the sheriff’s office. His classes include practical experience in handling an emergency, he said, plus he is taking a management course and doing a research project on ethical decision-making concerning discrimination for women and minorities in police and fire departments.
The Emergency Management Building dates back to 1953, and still has the jail cells on the top floor, and some on the lower level, Brad said. The cells mostly serve as storage areas for boxes of paperwork, Niko said.
Brad, who lives on a farm a 10-minute drive from town, said working in the Emergency Management Building, where he started out when Sheriff Kent Oberkom hired him back in 2010, is the perfect place for him to use his law enforcement experience in his hometown.
“I’m so glad and blessed to serve this community,” he said.
For more information about weather patterns in the Golden Valley, plan to attend the Severe Weather Seminar on March 6 at 7 p.m. at the Benson Center. Henry County’s weather guru, Jim Sublette, will update your weather knowledge, including how to identify clouds and storm formations, how to interpret radar, and what storm safety apps and devices are available. A weather radio will be given to Henry County residents in attendance (one per family). Register at or call 660-383-1061 Monday through Friday during office hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.