In a brief ceremony at the Department of Emergency Response on Friday, the DoER Large Conference Room was renamed as a lasting tribute to former director Lee Shurtleff, who is retiring after 32 years of service to Tompkins County. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing protocols were followed during the dedication.
Shurtleff, of Groton, was initially hired by the County as a fire dispatcher in March of 1988, becoming Director of Emergency Response in 2002, a position he held for 17 years. During that time, he spearheaded the County Emergency Management Plan and a consolidated dispatch center, merging four dispatch centers into one.
He was also instrumental in the construction and implementation of the 800mHz Emergency Communications System, creating true interoperability between first response agencies.
Shurtleff oversaw other technological developments in the Emergency Response Center, including a Computer Aided Dispatch and Records Management System, in-vehicle mobile data and mapping systems.
“Lee has spent the majority of his professional life serving the people of Tompkins County,” said Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Chairwoman of the County Legislature. “The Lee P. Shurtleff Conference Room at the Department of Emergency Response is a fitting tribute to that service.”
“The people of Tompkins County owe a great deal to Lee,” added Jessica Verfuss, Deputy Director of Emergency Response, who worked alongside Shurtleff for 12 years. “He is a friend to all first responders, and the advancements made during his time here enhanced public safety throughout the County.”
Prior to his appointment at DoER, Shurtleff was the County’s Republican Elections Commissioner. His late father, Phil Shurtleff, served on the then-Board of Representatives.
Shurtleff will continue to serve his community as a member of the Groton Fire Department, and is the incoming President of the New York State Fire Chiefs Association. His family owns and operates the Shurtleff Funeral Home in Groton.