Selectmen Appoint Two To Lead Emergency Management in New Canaan


The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday appointed Russ Kimes and Phil Sheibley as the new volunteer director and deputy director of emergency management in New Canaan, respectively.

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan thanked Fire Chief Jack Hennessy for stepping into the leadership role after longtime Emergency Management Director Mike Handler’s June 3 ouster during the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Especially through Tropical Storm Isaias, Jack, I really appreciated and the town appreciated your service and leadership during the storm,” Moynihan said during the Board’s regular meeting, held via videoconference. “That was quite a ride for a week.” 

He referred to last month’s storm that knocked out power to more than three-quarters of the town, many for several days.

Kimes is a lifelong town resident, U.S. Marine veteran and commander of VFW Post 653. He has volunteered with New Canaan Fire Company No. 1 for 22 years, is the Fire Department’s assistant chief, and is a certified EMT with New Canaan Emergency Medical Services. Sheibley is the immediate past captain of New Canaan EMS. Both have been volunteering for years in the Office of Emergency Management.

Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted 3-0 on the appointments. 

It wasn’t clear whether Kimes would take over the town-wide emergency outcalls. Moynihan himself has been doing the calls since ousting Handler—a move that led to a wide backlash in New Canaan. Moynihan did not explain the dismissal, referring only to an issue of “respect” and Handler’s own behavior. Handler called the first selectman’s allegations “hurtful and baseless” lies. Longtime colleagues of Handler with the OEM, including Sheibley and Hennessey, called him professional and respectful.

During the meeting, Kimes said that although Sheibley was unable to attend he “sends thanks and enthusiasm for the work ahead, as do both of us.”

Corbet said she shared in that enthusiasm. Williams said that with the appointments, New Canaan is “all set for COVID ’21, God help us if that comes.”

In referring to the OEM, Moynihan and Williams used the word ‘team’ six times between them.

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