With a faithful heart and generous spirit, Ricky Gibens has served his community in some shape or fashion for many years.
Gibens started out in Civil Defense in 1985 and now works for Emergency Services.
“My first call was a train derailment at Wenasoga Crossing. I joined on a Monday and the train derailment happened on a Thursday or Friday. I remember one of my superiors saying ‘You park this car, son, and don’t let anyone past you,' said Gibens, who was 19-years-old at the time of the accident.
“There were flames and an explosion. I just thought, ‘What am I doing out here?,' added Gibens, who can still vividly recall the details of the event.
In January of 1988, the Corinth native joined the Fire Service and in December of the same year was promoted to Assistant Fire Coordinator for Alcorn County.
Gibens, who now serves as the Alcorn County Emergency Management Director, said he has worn many hats over the years and he still does.
By June of 1989, he was hanging around the sheriff's office. So much so, he was offered a position as P.D. Dispatcher in June of 1990.
He went on to work as a patrolman in Long Beach in 1993, was hired by former Corinth Police Chief Fred Johnson to service as one of the first three jailers in 1995 and would eventually become the lead jailer.
“Either they were desperate or they saw something in me. I’m not sure which,” said the public servant, who is a Northeast Mississippi Community College graduate who holds an Associate’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice.
After vacating his position at the jail in 2006, he started his current job on Jan. 3 of the same year.
“The thing I love most about my job is being able to help people. The Lord gives us all gifts. Mine is being a servant," said the 48-year-old, who volunteers his time and efforts to serving his community.
He recalled a particular incident where the urgency of his job clashed with his personal life.
“My family would get irritated because my phone was constantly ringing. I remember my wife grabbing my phone and threatening to chunk it out the window,” said Gibens with a laugh as his phone dinged almost on cue.
Gibens, who also studied marketing for a time, indicated the hardest part of his job was having to explain paperwork to the “powers that be."
“We use a lots of acronyms in the field. So, our paperwork is chock full of them,” said the director, who has worked through six sets of board members and plans on serving two more terms in his current position.
Described by his co-workers as genuine, sincere and dedicated, Gibens shies away from the spotlight.
“I have known him all my life. He takes pride in what he does and doesn’t get nearly enough credit," said Giben’s friend and co-worker, Kim McCreless. “You can sum Ricky up in three words: Big Ol’ Heart.”
“I think that may be my downfall sometimes,” Gibens interjected.
The humanitarian referred to his team of co-workers as a tight knit family whom he often sees more than his actual family.
“He is very good to work with because he is knowledgeable, can pull up dates and is very astute as far as the community. He is a very involved person whose job doesn’t end at 5,” said volunteer Eddie Parvin, who also has a full-time job with the state guard.
Helping others is a family affair, according to Gibens.
“My wife was a Certified First Responder and my sons are all involved with or preparing to join Volunteer Fire Departments,” said the proud dad.
In addition to his job as director, he wears many other hats.
He is the Fire Coordinator, Homeland Security Director, Solid Waste Enforcement Officer, Flood Plan Manager, Grants Administrator, Assistant Inventory Clerk and Regional Fire Coordinator.
Gibens also occasionally drives a school bus for the Alcorn School District, acts as Chief of Security at Malco, creates safety features for events and provides security for school dances.
“Safety is my life,” said Gibens.
On rare occasions when he has time off, the Corinth resident enjoys hunting, fishing, spending time with his children and catching an hours sleep.
“I bought a new boat and still haven’t gotten it wet. I look forward to hopefully doing that soon,” said Gibens.
(Editor's note: Do you know an unsung hero in Alcorn County? If you do, send the name and why the person is a hero to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Daily Corinthian in looking for firemen, law enforcement officers, emergency responders or any person serving their community. Please include contact information.)