The Dothan-Houston County Emergency Management Agency’s chief of staff, Rickey Stokes, who is currently on administrative leave with pay after a DUI arrest earlier this month, has submitted his resignation to the EMA director, the Dothan Eagle learned Saturday.
The letter, dated June 18 and submitted to EMA Director Chris Judah, states: “I submit my resignation as a paid employee or staff member of Dothan — Houston County Emergency Management. The last day will be the last pay day of July 3, 2020.”
Attempts to contact Stokes, Judah and County Commission Chairman Mark Culver were unsuccessful Saturday evening.
The Eagle received a copy of Stokes’ resignation, which was unsigned, and an email that Judah sent to the Houston County Personnel Director Sherri Garner asking the county to honor Stokes’ requested resignation date.
“As this letter states, this (resignation) becomes effective July 3, 2020. I would request an extension be granted and Mr. Stokes remain on administrative leave, not suspension, with pay and benefits until that date,” Judah writes in the email.
Judah adds that all “necessary arrangements for equipment and resources to be returned has been initiated and policies per personnel have been and are being followed” concerning Stokes’ resignation.
In his resignation letter, Stokes calls his recent DUI arrest a “reality check,” but said that it is not the reason for leaving his position. He says the decision was based on personal reasons, including the need to spend more time with his businesses. Stokes operates an online news service and a bail-bond business.
“While the arrest in Washington County, Florida, has been a reality check, the pressure from two elected officials is not the reason I am submitting my resignation,” the letter reads. “The resignation is because being with Dothan-Houston County Emergency Management has dominated my time and energies, and contrary to some opinions, there has been no financial gain only financial losses. As you are aware, the adventure with EMA has been ‘warming to the heart’ in making the system better, but has been a costly adventure.”
Stokes also acknowledges his work in a variety of emergency management and law enforcement positions since 1975, including being elected Houston County coroner for a term at age 21.
“Since 1975, I have had deep respect for law enforcement — fire and EMS. It has been a distinct pleasure to work around every EMA director that has served Dothan — Houston County,” Stokes writes. He also praises Judah for doing an outstanding job and said he is the best EMA director “this county has ever had.”
Stokes was placed on administrative leave with pay Monday, June 8, pending an investigation into his DUI arrest by the Florida Highway Patrol.
The arrest happened Friday, June 6, after a lookout was issued for a motorist driving erratically and hitting a barricade on State Road 77 near Chipley, the Florida Highway Patrol report states.
Stokes was charged with DUI-alcohol or drug, first offense and booked in the Washington County Jail. He was released on bond after spending more than nine hours in custody.
According to the arrest report, once the vehicle was stopped, Stokes agreed to perform a sobriety exercise and registered 0.051, which is under the illegal limit of 0.08.
However, the trooper notes that based on training and experience, he considered Stokes was under the influence of a controlled substance/alcohol and was unable to safely operate a motor vehicle.
The white Ford Crown Victoria sedan driven by Stokes did not have license plate displayed. It was later confirmed by Culver that the vehicle was once owned by the county, but the commission approved its transfer to the Cottonwood Rescue Squad in April.
The arrest report notes that an alert was reported for the vehicle before it was stopped, and dispatch had received reports that the vehicle had hit a barricade.
Before the stop, the trooper observed “the vehicle crossed the center and right-side lines multiple times, and at one point was driving almost in the northbound lane of travel. The vehicle also drove through a painted median center part of the road.”
Stokes also was given a urine test at the Washington County Jail, The result is still pending
Stokes also is involved in an Alabama Ethics Commission complaint being investigated by the attorney general.