911 chief hangs up career of 38 years

Acting director will take retiring Phil Wasson's place

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Phil Wasson, Augusta's longtime 911 director and a county employee for 38 years, retired Tuesday.

Phil Wasson  Special
Special
Phil Wasson

Wasson began his career with Augusta Police Department but was working as a captain for Richmond County Sheriff Charles Webster in 1999 when Webster recommended him to head the county's new consolidated 911 service, he said.

Until then, callers might reach dispatchers working for either the sheriff's office, the fire department or emergency medical services, Wasson said.

"If you needed the fire department, you hollered across the room for them to pick up the line," he said.

Wasson, 61, said his retirement had nothing to do with city government's restructuring, which might eliminate jobs and consolidate other departments.

"Thirty-eight years is a long time to work in public safety," he said.

In August, the contributor to the city's 1949 pension plan discovered he was earning less working than he would retired, he said.

An Augusta native, Wasson said his retirement will allow him to spend more time with his daughter, three grandchildren and a fourth grandchild who is on the way.

Wasson's wife was Richmond County school police Chief Dianne Wasson, who died of a heart attack in 1996. She was 40.

Taking Phil Wasson's place at 911 is Catherine White, the assistant 911 director, who will be the acting director. White has worked for Augusta since 1981.

"I did not want to leave that place; I love the people there," Wasson said. "There are some great employees there -- the best in the city, the best in the state -- at that 911."

Despite rumors, which Human Resources Director Rod Powell called "wishful thinking," Augusta is offering no early-out opportunities, such as those given last year that credited employees a year's work toward their retirement benefits if they retired early.

Last year's incentive prompted about 30 employees to retire, while during the past two months only 10 have stepped down, he said.

Although the 1949 plan is no longer offered, many who delay retirement are those who joined another retirement plan late and continue to work to build up their benefits, Powell said.

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Asitisinaug
6
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Asitisinaug 12/01/10 - 01:32 am
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Richmond County 911 needs

Richmond County 911 needs major improvements - mostly in the staffing from the supervisors to the front lines. Dispatchers that are clueless as to actuall operations of the deputies, firefighters and EMS personnel much less familiar with the local area.

This is an opportunity to HIRE FROM THE OUTSIDE and make some positive changes to the department.

No_Longer_Amazed
5149
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No_Longer_Amazed 12/01/10 - 03:39 am
0
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"In August, the contributor

"In August, the contributor to the city's 1949 pension plan discovered he was earning less working than he would retired, he said."

Is it any wonder ARC is going broke?

GoGators2010
0
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GoGators2010 12/01/10 - 06:54 am
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Thank you for your long and

Thank you for your long and faithful service to the community, Mr Wasson

sjsd17
10
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sjsd17 12/01/10 - 11:02 am
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Good bye....finally. The

Good bye....finally.

The interim director hopefully will make some much needed changes and there are quite a few of them needed. He "ruled" that department with an iron fist and wouldn't even allow the RCSO and Fire Dept to make changes to the way their calls were handled because he didn't think they were necessary...how's that possible??? He should have been made to listen to the people that were in the streets through their department heads to correct stuff but he was never talked to or reprimanded because it's widely believed that he "had the goods" on alot of powerful people in Augusta and they protected him.

The 1949 pension has maybe 100 or so people left that are still working and every one of them are in the same position...losing money to continue working...but most are in top positions and don't want to give up their "power"...so, if they are told to retire..there would be a substantial savings in payroll. Also the 1949 pension has over 80 million dollars in it so they definitely should be made to retire.

Sweet son
17313
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Sweet son 12/01/10 - 05:19 pm
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This not the place to be

This not the place to be airing complaints about the 911 system, the retirement plan, how calls are handled etc. You have the new person's name. Call Catherine White with your concerns. Phil and others who survive the thankless public safety workplace for that many years should be commended. How many times have any of you called to say thank-you. Most of you only know how to grumble. Check yourself, are you perfect.

Good Luck Phil

SDB
0
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SDB 12/01/10 - 10:32 pm
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I pray for those 911

I pray for those 911 dispatchers under the direction of Catherine White. You think there were problems when Phil was there, just wait and see what will happen now. :(

AutumnLeaves
12356
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AutumnLeaves 12/05/10 - 11:59 pm
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Sweet son, she is not a new

Sweet son, she is not a new person. Catherine White was previously known as Kitty Walker, in the same position. She has been there many years.

AutumnLeaves
12356
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AutumnLeaves 12/06/10 - 12:03 am
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AsitisinAugusta. I agree with

AsitisinAugusta. I agree with you, unless they can find someone that is qualified that has done a good job for them in the past, they should probably hire someone from outside for the director and supervisor positions. That department needs an extreme makeover.

AutumnLeaves
12356
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AutumnLeaves 04/07/11 - 01:25 pm
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Of course, re: Catherine

Of course, re: Catherine (Kitty) Walker White, you (Phil aka Sweet Son) you already knew that. Why would you describe her as "the new person"?

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