After nearly 47 years of serving his country and his community, Jim Lyle has decided it is time to step aside as director of the Highland County Emergency Management Agency.
Lyle will retire effective Dec. 31, 2017, and will be replaced the following day by Dave Bushelman, who has been working in the office part-time for about two and a half years.
While he is retiring as director of the local EMA, Lyle said he will not be far away. He said he just renewed his license for three more years as a part-time employee with the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District, will teach part-time at a firefighters academy and the Ohio EMA Academy, and also plans to work some on the family farm.
“I just can’t go home and do nothing. I started helping milk cows when I was 10 years old and I’ve been working ever since,” Lyle said. “And if some kind of disaster hits, Dave knows all he has to do is call me and I’ll help him and the community anytime.”
A reception in Lyle’s honor will be held from 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17 in the basement meeting room at the Highland County Administration Building in Hillsboro.
It was January of 1990 when Lyle, also a Hillsboro firefighter at the time, took over as interim director of what was then known as the Federal Civil Defense Authority. Lyle said that Fred Bennett, a former Hillsboro fire chief, was the Civil Defense director for several years, then Jim Ferrell, followed by Greg Barr.
“In 1989, they approached me and I’ve been interim director ever since,” Lyle joked. “I was at the fire department, they really needed somebody, and the pay was tremendous – $1,500 a year.”
Prior to that Lyle had joined the U.S. Air Force in May of 1970 and served six years there, followed by 21 years in the Ohio National Guard. In 1974, he became a member of the Hillsboro Fire Department and was there for 33 years before retiring in 2006. Shortly after he retired from the fire department he became full-time director of the Highland County EMA.
He said he has been considering giving up the EMA job for a couple years, thinks it’s time for some new blood, and wants to do some other things. One of those things, he said, is spend more time with his wife, Cheryl, who also recently retired. He said they both have a love of horseback riding, and that they have had a horse trailer for a few years that they have barely used.
“We decided we wanted to spend some time together because you never know when the good Lord is going to say it’s your time,” Lyle said. “So we’re gonna take the time while we can.”
Bushelman, meanwhile, has taken a similar path to the EMA director’s position as Lyle. He has been in the fire service since 1986 and has been in 911 communications with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office for 15 years. He will retire from the sheriff’s office on Dec. 31 of this year.
“I’ve always been kind of interested in it, an opportunity arose, and it’s a new challenge,” Bushelman said of the EMA director’s position.
Lyle said it has been an honor to serve the community as EMA director.
“When a disaster hits, it’s always nice to be able to help people and things like that,” Lyle said. “But I won’t miss getting up early in the morning.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or [email protected]