Hometown girl Colegrove is public safety chief

Posted 6/4/20

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/GCPS DAYTONA BEACH — Bryan Koon, former Florida Department of Emergency Management director, and Angela Colegrove attended the annual Florida Emergency …

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Hometown girl Colegrove is public safety chief

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/GCPS
DAYTONA BEACH — Bryan Koon, former Florida Department of Emergency Management director, and Angela Colegrove attended the annual Florida Emergency Preparedness Association meeting and training conference in Daytona.

MOORE HAVEN — One rung at a time, Angela Snow Colegrove has been ascending the public safety/fire rescue ladder for three solid decades, almost since high school.

Named the new Glades County public safety director recently, Ms. Colegrove has happy memories of what it was like to grow up in this rural area and of the safe, close-knit community it’s always been. She is a 1990 graduate of Moore Haven Middle-High School and earned her first two public safety certifications in 1992 while working for the Glades County Sheriff’s Office during 1991-93.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/GCPS
PORT CHARLOTTE — From rear, Marisa Shivers, Tosha Reiss, Angela Colegrove and Amy Howard trained together at a Region 6 evacuation exercise in Charlotte County.

During her childhood in Glades, she remembers most, “being on the lake, spending a lot of time outdoors … and then we were in the woods as children, (doing) a lot of hunting. My life consisted of hunting and fishing growing up.

“It was a very friendly, family-oriented community back then, so everybody was always gathering. It was not like it is today. Everybody was always gathering around and having dinners together, like fish fries, and Chalo Nitka and the local festivals — those were always a big thing for us.”

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/GCPS
From left, Glades County Public Safety team members Clay Sapp, Bob Jones, David Springman and Tycee Prevatt gather around Angie Colegrove (center) while packing up supplies to send to rural counties in North Florida after Hurricane Matthew raked the northeast coast in 2016.

Ms. Colegrove’s career direction was determined early on, starting with an auxiliary corrections course she took at Lee County Area Vocational-Technical Center and one from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in FCIC Basic Telecommunications. In 1993, while working at Hayloft Western Wear as a sales clerk, she was certified for emergency medical care at Edison Community College (later SouthWestern Florida State College). She had moved to North Fort Myers that year.

She had been steadily working for the Glades County Sheriff’s Office in Moore Haven since 1995, when she moved back from Lee to become a dispatcher and correctional officer, spending two years there. Then she moved to the Glades Emergency Management Department (GEM) in 1996 as billing and records clerk plus EMT and hasn’t left since.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/GCPS
Bob Jones (left) and an unidentified firefighter responded to a train chemical fire at U.S. 27 and County Road 17. Ms. Colegrove is at center calling in assistance.

In 2000, she was certified as an associate emergency manager by the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association (FEPA), and received her professional certification two years later, along with the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) basic training certificate.

Until 2002, Ms. Colegrove was additionally the department’s administrative assistant. In 2006, she became GEM director, and has been the acting public safety director since the fall of 2019, when former chief Bob Jones became acting county manager. She served as acting county manager for one week in October 2019 while Mr. Jones was on vacation.

Rung by rung, hands-on is how it’s done.

“Angie,” as she’s known to co-workers, friends and acquaintances, has built an impressive resume over these years, with multiple certifications, and is very grateful for the opportunities she’s been given.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/GCPS
Marisa Shivers (background) and Angie Colegrove conduct damage assessments from a helicopter during the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017.

She said she really enjoyed the “years of classes and on-the-job training” but added there have been “so many different things throughout the years, so many classes I’ve taken, events that I’ve worked — I don’t think there’s anything so special that stands out.”

Back in the early 1990s with the fall of the former Soviet Union, the United States’ formerly “civil defense”-oriented logistical posture began giving way to a nationwide movement toward disaster preparedness/emergency management, accelerated by the 1995 World Trade Center and Oklahoma City federal building bombings.

“It was something new coming up from civil defense, and I’m referring to … ’96, so in emergency management, you got to travel because of the training that you had to have with it, and I think that’s what caused the career thing. Then I got into EMS and … then became an EMT, which was really cool. And then I went back to emergency management, as the director in 2006,” Ms. Colegrove explained.

She also has been involved with the International Association of Emergency Managers for several years. “I’m actually certified (by) International. It is actually really cool, because the (IAEM) does human trafficking classes, where you don’t see that kind of stuff, those classes in our local hurricane conference.

“I’ve been blessed by the Glades Board of County Commissioners to be able to go do those and keep my certification up,” she added.

All through her career she has earned multiple certifications and said she wanted to highlight people she’s especially grateful to for the opportunities: “My husband for allowing me to … Sometimes I travel two or three weeks out of the month, or I did back then. I was gone a week, back a week, gone a week — so, I’m grateful for him being understanding to let me do these classes and further my education; the BOCC for giving me a chance and believing in me; and (County Manager) Bob Jones for being an awesome leader and a mentor.”

Asked what she might tell a young woman who aspires to get into this area of public service but is having reservations, Ms. Colegrove responded: “Never doubt yourself; believe in yourself. Challenge yourself and work hard daily to get where you want to be, because everybody who’s entering has a dream. They can come true. It did to me, so nothing’s impossible!”

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