Kathy Welsh

Kathy Welsh

CARMEL – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has named Kenneth W. Clair Jr. Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services (BOES) after the retirement of the current Commissioner Anthony W. Sutton. The change will be effective Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services Ken Clair. Photo provided

“Kenneth Clair’s knowledge, experience and passion have made him an asset at the Bureau for decades,” said Odell. “I know that with his capabilities, he will successfully lead the Bureau through this transition.”

Prior to becoming Deputy Commissioner, Clair served in the Bureau a Deputy Fire Coordinator for nine years. In addition, he has served as Assistant Fire Inspector in Southeast from 1997-2003 and more recently as the Emergency Preparedness Officer for the Town of Southeast from 2003-present. He is a New York State Fire Prevention Officer and is National Incident Management certified.

A lifelong Brewster resident, Clair has been a volunteer fire fighter for the Brewster Fire Department for more than 25 years.  He is also a former Brewster Fire Chief, Past President of Putnam County Fire Association, a member of the National Fire Protection Association, New York State Chiefs and Putnam County Chiefs Association and currently serves as a Fire Commissioner in the Brewster-Southeast Joint Fire District.

For his commitment to fire prevention and education, Clair was honored as the New York State Fire Educator of the Year in 2010 and was a recipient of the Michael Neuner Fire Prevention Award.

“I’m excited to lead the Bureau of Emergency Services in Putnam,” Clair said. “I thank County Executive Odell for her confidence in me, and for giving me this tremendous opportunity. I have spent my entire public service career preparing for this role. I pledge to work hard every day to protect the people of Putnam County.”

Odell named Sutton as Emergency Service Commissioner in March 2015, after a selection committee comprised of first responders interviewed the candidates and narrowed down the field to the finalists they thought best fit the position. The legislature approved Sutton as Commissioner in May 2015.

“I appreciate the devotion Commissioner Sutton has shown the Bureau during his tenure and thank him for his service to the people of Putnam County,” said Odell. “His steady hand and calm demeanor helped the county through a difficult period. Under his leadership, the Bureau has enhanced its effectiveness to provide prompt and efficient emergency assistance to residents and visitors of Putnam County. Comm. Sutton restored relationships with the Sheriff’s Department, police departments and all of the first responder organizations.”

For Sutton retirement is bittersweet.

“I’m both excited and saddened to leave my post,” said Sutton. “It has been my distinct pleasure to serve County Executive Odell as commissioner of Emergency Services. She set the bar high, but was there at every turn to support the Bureau and help us face the challenges.”

Sutton thanks the elected officials that made sure he did his homework by asking the hard questions before approving BOES projects, initiatives and budgets. He also grateful to members of the Fire Advisory Board, Emergency Services Advisory Board, Putnam County Fire Chiefs Association, 911 Committee and the other associations, committees and organizations he worked with.

“It has been an honor to work with Putnam’s fire fighters, EMT’s and police officers,” Sutton said. “I am forever indebted to the administration staff, the dispatchers, the Deputy Fire coordinators, special teams and all the other volunteers that I have had the honor to work with during my tenure at the Bureau. They have made my job easier and more enjoyable.”

Chairwoman of the Putnam County Legislature Ginny Nacerino recognized the efforts of Sutton and the ability of Clair.

“We have been very fortunate to have Anthony Sutton serve as our Commissioner of Emergency Services,” Nacerino said. “Tony’s wealth of insight, experience and caliber has vastly improved the department and services during his tenure. I wish him all the best in retirement.”

She added, “I support passing the torch to Ken Clair and have him serve as our Acting Commissioner,” Nacerino said. “As Deputy Commissioner, he has proven to be a proactive and effective leader. I am confident that having him at the helm, he will continue in Tony’s footsteps to raise the bar and work in earnest towards improving and protecting the lives of Putnam County residents.”

Sutton is satisfied knowing the Bureau will be led by Acting Commissioner Clair and Deputy Commissioner Robert Lipton.

“They have my total confidence and make it comfortable for me to hand off the baton of leadership,” Sutton said. “I will truly miss the entire Putnam “Team” and will always remember my time here fondly.”

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