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Cerro Gordo County Emergency Management Coordinator O’Neil wins Iowa Emergency Manager of the Year award

MASON CITY — The Cerro Gordo County Emergency Management Coordinator was recently named as the inaugural recipient of the Iowa Emergency Manager of the Year award by the Iowa Emergency Management Association. Steve O’Neil has over 20 years of experience in the emergency management field and has been instrumental in mentoring and training numerous local emergency management professionals.

O’Neil says he was surprised to get the award.  “It’s one of those awards that comes from your peers, which really means something for the people that you work with and know what you do day in and day out, select you for this award, it’s very humbling. It definitely was quite a surprise for me. You do the job and that’s enough, hopefully you do it well. But this was special.”

The association cites O’Neil for his endless resources that he is willing to share with other coordinators. O’Neil says that’s the strength of a good emergency management agency.  “You’re willing to share not only the things that you’ve learned that work but also the things that don’t work and your mistakes. It definitely benefits the others, it benefits your own, and it builds a good, tight team. I’ve been very fortunate over the years, actually it’s been 25 years in November, I’ve had some really great people to work with, that I can depend on, and they’ve been there whether it’s disaster or just regular times, or even in personal. They’ve become a second family.”

O’Neil says he’s learned a lot since starting to work in emergency management since things constantly are changing.  “It’s one of the things that for me has been really appealing in this job that I’m constantly learning, constantly having to innovate and come up with new ways in dealing with situations, and meeting a lot of extraordinary people from all walks of life, different types of work that they do. So it’s constantly evolving. I found that if you are not evolving, you’re not changing, you’re not looking to do something new, you’re way behind.”

You can hear more comments from O’Neil on the “Ask the Mayor” program coming up on March 24th on AM-1300 KGLO at 9:10 AM as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week.

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