DeVann Cook started working for Santa Rosa County in 1978. Since then he has served in multiple roles, which should enable him to effectively hit the ground running as Interim County Administrator, starting August 26.
Cook, who grew up in Pace and graduated from Milton High School and the University of West Florida, was initially hired as EMS Director. During his 42 years with the county he has also served as Grants Coordinator, Civil Defense Director, Human Resources Director, and Risk Manager, his current position.
The Board of County Commissioners during its August 10 meeting picked Cook for the top job, following the July 13 resignation of outgoing County Administrator Dan Schebler. The board also agreed with Schebler’s request to leave August 25 instead of October 11.
District 2 Commissioner Bob Cole, who is on vacation, phoned in to participate in Tuesday’s vote and offered to negotiate Cook’s contract terms, which are expected to be finalized at the board’s August 24 meeting.
Cole, who has served as District 2 Commissioner since 2002, said county employee morale is at an “all-time low.” He also expressed concerns about keeping major projects, such as construction of the new county courthouse, on track.
Chairman Dave Piech said he is “fully confident” in Cook’s abilities to step into the role.
During a Wednesday morning interview with South Santa Rosa News, Cook said he will work to improve morale while also aiming to be positive, professional, and transparent.
“Transparency will be very important to me,” Cook said, adding he plans to return to providing detailed agendas with supporting documentation for meetings. He also plans to offer each commissioner the chance to thoroughly discuss each agenda item prior to meetings.
Additionally, Cook referenced the established County Administrator’s ordinance and affirmed his intention to abide by it.
He also expressed enthusiasm for working with Acting Assistant County Administrator Brad Baker, who started working for the county in 1988 and had been serving as Public Safety Director.
District 3 Commissioner James Calkins during Tuesday’s meeting called Cook and Baker a “dream team.”
Cook resides in Milton with his wife of 42 years. They have two children, two grandchildren and one Boston Terrier.