Commission Chairman Gary Crowley (left) presented gifts to Todd Hammer for his 30 years of service to the county.

County seeks Emergency Management Director

Due to the impending retirement of Lyon County Emergency Management Director Tammy VanOverbeke, the county board Tuesday began the task of filling the position.

The director is appointed by the county. The board decided to review the past performance of the program and decide on the direction for hiring a replacement.

The emergency management job has been filled by a full-time position in the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’re looking to replace this full-time position,” said Sheriff Eric Wallen.

When asked, the sheriff indicated it could be either a part-time or full-time position. The Emergency Management Director is responsible for coordinating and directing the county’s emergency management program in compliance with federal and state guidelines.

The director’s job is to make sure there are facilities available, education on all types of emergencies, training and knowledge by all officials as to how to handle emergencies within and affecting the county.

Commissioner Chairman Gary Crowley asked the sheriff if they could advertise for a part-time person.

While the sheriff agreed that could be done, Commissioner Charlie Sanow said it is a large job and may be more than a part-time person can handle.

The sheriff contends a desire to see all that’s involved in the position before stipulating the amount of hours tied to the position.

“Our emergency manager works from the fire departments (in the county) and I get a lot of feedback from them,” said Commission Chairman Gary Crowley.

County Administrator Loren Stomberg said he’s studied other counties as far as full-time or part-time Emergency Management Directors go — and said, “It’s all over the place.”

Commissioner Paul Graupmann asked if the director is part time, and there is an emergency that takes more time, such as flooding, would the director be paid overtime.

Administrator Stomberg indicated it depends on how the position was structured. “There is enough stuff to keep (the director) busy on a full-time basis,” suggested Commissioner Rick Anderson.

Chairman Crowley made a motion to advertise for a full-time position and determine the available personnel. More jail staffing added Current Lyon County Jail staffing is at Department of Corrections recommended levels. However, feedback from exiting correctional officers indicated additional hires would help alleviate workloads for correctional staff. As a result, the board voted Tuesday to hire one additional officer.

Sheriff Eric Wallen made a case for additional staff by saying the best solution was to have an extra correctional officer to free up some of the overworked areas. There was talk of increasing the staff by two positions.

Sheriff Wallen described a variety of duties the current staff performs, indicating they are constantly busy. “I could support one, but could not go along with two (additional staffers),” said Commissioner Steve Ritter.

Commissioner Charlie Sanow suggested, “You go out and hire one person and see how that works out.” Commissioner Anderson said he would prefer to see, “People safe,” than take chances by being understaffed.

IN OTHER action the board: •Reaffirmed a commitment to broad-based health care services provided by PrimeWest Health Tuesday when the board agreed to sign an amended resolution to join PrimeWest Rural MN Healthcare.

Proposed changes were reviewed by the board and approved. PrimeWest had a goal to expanding to 11 more counties by January 1, 2020 and Lyon County is one of them.

Joining PrimeWest allows counties like Lyon to purchase or provide health care services on behalf of persons eligible for medical assistance who would otherwise be required to or may elect to participate in the pre-paid medical assistance program.

Joining PrimeWest helps county-based purchasing units the integration of County Public Health and Social Services agencies.

As a result, the county helps provide health, behavioral health and community health needs and services and has better control over the citizen’s health care and health care costs.

•Approved tobacco license renewals for AgPlus of Ghent and Minneota, Balaton Liquor Store, Brad’s Market of Minneota, Dollar General of Minneota, Balaton One Stop and Valley Discount Liquor of Green Valley.

Also approved liquor license renewals for Cottonwood Country Club and Valley Discount Liquors and Fedde’s Repair.

•Approved the lease with the Lyon County Historical Society for the building and property in Marshall.

•Voted to continued to provide law enforcement services for the City of Ghent. The county sheriff provides 10 hours per week or 40 hours per month. The current contract was ready to expire but will continue on the same basis.

Hourly rates will increase three percent for 2020 and three percent in the second year of the contract in 2021.

•Approved a new agreement with United Community Action Partnership to provide public transportation services. Community transit provided rides for 10,390 passengers over 85,765 miles in the past year.

The route runs between Marshall, Tracy and Balaton and provides rides for residents needing transportation. The Lyon County Board’s financial share is $15,000.

The county also agreed to provide another $8,800 to help in the replacement of vehicles. Total cost of vehicle replacement is $88,000.

The county will provide 10 percent of this cost.

Hammer 30 years with county

The Lyon County Board presented gifts to several employees for their continued service to the county.

One of them was Todd Hammer of Minneota for his 30 years of county service. Hammer is the assistant zoning director and is known as the “ditch man” of Lyon County.

When he was hired 30 years ago, he was named zoning director but a number of years ago, he said, “I hired my boss, John Biren.”

Now he works for and with Biren in the Lyon County Zoning Office. “I take care of all the ditches and the ag portion of the work in the county,” he said.

One of his big tasks used to be the control of weeds in the county.

But he said, “Roundup took care of that.” Now, while there is still some weed control needed, it’s not what it once was.

“I do a lot of testing in the fields for chemical applications,” said Hammer.

Tammy VanOverbeke

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