Minnehaha County, South Dakota
NAME: Minnehaha County Emergency Management
DATE OF ORIGINATION: 1950
PURPOSE: To preserve health, life, and property; keep the continuity of government during time of disaster or extreme emergency.
ADDRESS: 608 Sigler Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
FAMILY: Three paid staff and a county full of dedicated, professional volunteers
|2001 - 2018
|1986 - 2001
|1965 - 1986
|1960 - 1965
|1950 - 1960
The Sioux Falls Civil Defense organization originated in the 1950's with Roy Willy being its first Director, working part-time.
During Mr. Willy’s tour of duty, topics of air observation posts, radio activity, biochemistry, atomic and bacteriological warfare were of prime concern. The need for nurses in South Dakota was also a factor with Civil Defense working very closely with the American Red Cross.
During this period, the Civil Defense Office was located in the Elmwood Community Hall building.
The second part-time Director of the Sioux Falls Civil Defense was Carl Quisenberry, whose office was also located in the Elmwood Community Hall.
Mr. Quisenberry’s tour of duty was during the early 1960 atomic war scare period. His main objectives were to prepare for the protection of citizens against nuclear war.
During this time, fallout shelters had to be located, inspected, marked, and licensed. Shelter supplies had to be ordered and stocked in place. Radiological monitors had to be trained and assigned to shelters. Communications, warning, housing, feeding, and plans to protect the citizens against an attack upon this nation were gaining momentum.
In 1965, Joseph Vanderloo became the first ever full-time Civil Defense Director. The Office of Civil Defense was then moved to the old Courthouse Annex at 413 North Main Avenue.
Mr. Vanderloo’s objectives were to maintain the momentum of preparing for the nuclear scare. The efforts of Willy and Quisenberry were combined with those of Vanderloo’s to make the Sioux Falls Civil Defense system one of the best.
Vanderloo continued to prepare for the out of norm situation that may befall any community. Under Vanderloo’s tour of duty, the Sioux Falls Civil Defense program was incorporated into the county system, changing the name to the Sioux Falls/Minnehaha County Civil Defense District, later to be changed once more to the Minnehaha County Civil Defense.
As the nuclear war scare slowly diminished, Civil Defense took on a dual concept role consisting of: nuclear, natural, and man-made emergencies or disasters.
The program began to grow with leaps and bounds. Volunteers of all abilities were recruited: tornado spotters, Police Reserve, Rescue Squad, divers, four-wheel drive, citizen band and amateur radio clubs, snowmobile clubs, pilots, radiological monitors, volunteer fire departments, and shelter managers were and are among the many, many people supporting the Civil Defense program of Minnehaha County.
In 1973, Montie Horn, a longtime volunteer since 1965, became the first full-time Deputy Director to assist with the growing functions and responsibilities of the Civil Defense program.
It was in 1973 that the Office of Civil Defense moved to its newly erected building at 608 Sigler Avenue in Sioux Falls. The new building housed office space, classroom, communications, and vehicles. Before this final move, Civil Defense vehicles and equipment were stored in various shops in Sioux Falls; the Northern States Power Company warehouse, Sioux Falls Water Department, Sewer Department, Fire Department, non-governmental fenced yards, County Highway Shop, and drive-in basement of a downtown Sioux Falls furniture store.
In the past, the Civil Defense Office has acquired thousands of dollars worth of excess and surplus government property for its jurisdiction agency use: jeeps, trailers, helicopters, generators, trucks, cranes, caterpillars; almost any item available have been obtained and put to use by nearly all city and county agencies.
The Minnehaha County Civil Defense program was conscious of its slogan: "alert alive today, alive tomorrow" and steadfast in its purpose to provide workable plans to keep the continuity of local, state, and federal governments during times of disaster or extreme emergency.
Local emergency operation plans were developed to guide department heads. Other disaster plans such as winter and summer storm, blizzard, tornado, flood, hazardous materials, and radiological guides have been formulated and updated annually.
The Civil Defense Office at this time was composed of three full-time and several volunteers for its working staff.
Programs initiated since 1965 are those of the tornado spotters, organized in 1965 of a citizen band radio club. Since that organization, amateur radio, Civil Defense Rescue Squad, volunteer fire departments of the county, and law enforcement officers in the field have been the primary spotters. Spotters have been trained in the Skywarn program and have yearly refresher courses.
The Police Reserve program was organized in 1966 and consists of volunteer persons who are certified by the State of South Dakota as reserve law enforcement officers. Their training is continuous, so the certification can be maintained.
The Rescue Squad was organized in 1971. Each of its members have the state certification of emergency medical technician. These persons are highly trained in search and rescue, river rescue, and vehicle extrication. The Rescue Unit meets weekly to maintain professionalism.
A snowmobile club was invited to be part of the program to assist in winter storm situations. A four-wheel drive club also joined the ranks to participate and help during winter storms.
A Dive Team was formed to rescue or recover persons involved in lake or river emergencies. The Dive Team is also used to recover property for law enforcement. These persons train monthly.
The current Office of Civil Defense, under the direction of Montie Horn, who became the second full-time Director of Minnehaha County Civil Defense in July of 1986, is continually involving itself with the programs which include the activities of the Rescue Squad, Police Reserve, Dive Team, tornado spotters, amateur radio club, volunteer fire departments, snowmobilers, four-wheel drives, emergency medical technicians, Hazardous Materials Committee, Emergency Services Council, Tri-State Civil Defense Directors, State Civil Defense Directors, rain gauge network, community boards, and the private and public industry sector.
The annual Civil Defense budget has been in the area of one hundred thirty thousand dollars. To help justify these funds volunteers donate in excess of fifty thousand dollars in time. Since 1965, the volunteers of the various groups have contributed well over five hundred years of service to the community.
The Office of Civil Defense continues to uphold the statutes of emergency and disaster preparedness by standing fast to the purpose of preparing and providing workable plans.
City and county disaster exercises (tabletop and field), are conducted to test the emergency response of fire, police, and emergency medical service units and local hospitals. Since the mid-60's, this office strived to abide by the guidelines let by state, federal, and local governments in part by providing written plans to aid during time of disaster and extreme emergency, by defining roles of elected officials to maintain a strong definitive line of command, and by keeping the disaster organizational structure similar to routine organization.
When Civil Defense adopted the dual role, the all hazards approach was conceived by using the disaster prevention and mitigation concept. Several alerting systems have been implanted. Citizen involvement and multi-use of resources are a major part of the program. Potential disaster situations are continually monitored. Coordination among all participating agencies, governmental and non-governmental, is a continued interrelationship for a more comprehensive, professional Civil Defense program.
In September of 1986, the Minnehaha County Commission adopted a resolution merging Civil Defense with the Sheriff’s Department.
Under this resolution, Civil Defense is designated under the jurisdiction and responsibility of the Sheriff. The Director of Civil Defense shall be appointed by and subject to the authority of the County Commission.
The Director shall administer and budget the Civil Defense program with the integrity and equality of the current program.
Operations of the Civil Defense program shall continue from the Civil Defense building on Sigler Avenue with all Civil Defense vehicles, equipment, and inventory remaining at that address.
The Minnehaha County Office of Civil Defense is responsible to the Minnehaha County Board of Commissioners and has an Advisory Board consisting of two County Commissioners, the Sheriff, and Mayor of the City of Sioux Falls.
The reorganization was to provide a Deputy Sheriff to assist with the duties of the Civil Defense Office on a fifty/fifty share plan. This structure was to be reviewed after one year. The review showed the need for a full-time Deputy Director. Approval for this request was granted in October of 1987. Jim Moeller, a Rescue Squadman of eight years, was hired in December of 1987 as a full-time Deputy Director.
The Civil Defense Office once again had three full-time; employees; Montie Horn, Director; James Moeller, Deputy Director; Denise Erickson, Secretary; who managed and coordinated the efforts of approximately two hundred volunteers.
The reorganization brought about very little change. The Advisory Board of twenty years was discontinued. The Commission, looking at the Sheriff as the supervisor of Civil Defense, felt the Sheriff could sign certain documents and be responsible for the program. State law directs that the Commission is responsible for the Civil Defense program and must sign all pertinent documents.
The Office of Civil Defense continued on in a professional manner complying with the various rules and regulations, maintaining existing programs along with creating new ones.
The nuclear war scare and war-caused planning slowly was diminishing. Fallout shelter supplies were surplussed or given back to state and federal agencies. Underground Emergency Operation Centers were no longer needed, and the Minnehaha County Emergency Operations Center was moved to the Civil Defense Office. Telephone lines were installed, and a new generator was acquired just in time for the flood of 1993 declaration. The federal government officials charged with operations of the Disaster Field Office used the new E.O.C. for their headquarters.
It was also in 1993 when the name of Minnehaha County Civil Defense was changed to the Office of Minnehaha County Emergency Management to conform with the national trend.
1994 saw the Office of Emergency Management receiving the installation of computerized Nexrad weather radar to assist early forecast of weather warnings.
With Minnehaha County experiencing severe budget cuts for the past few years, the trickle down effect prompted the loss of one employee. 1996 saw the Office of Emergency Management reverting to two employees which left Montie Horn and Denise Christensen depending on and demanding more from volunteer organizations.
In 1997, the Director requested an assistant once again. With budget restraints, this was denied. However, due to the fact that Minnehaha County Emergency Management was under the Sheriff's Office, a deputy sheriff, Angela Balfe, was appointed to assist the Director when he was out of town or unavailable.
In 2001, Montie Horn retired as Emergency Management Director after 28 years of service. Lynn DeYoung replaced him as Director. Angela Balfe remained as Deputy Director to assist in the Director's absence.
Also at this time in 2001, an organizational policy for the Minnehaha County Office of Emergency Management was passed and approved by the Minnehaha County Commission removing Emergency Management from the Minnehaha County Sheriff's jurisdiction/responsibility and giving it a separate and distinct department status. An oversight committee, consisting of two County Commissioners and the Minnehaha County Sheriff was formed to provide general supervision, guidance, and oversight to the Emergency Management Director.
After the 9-11 disaster in 2001, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and homeland security preparedness and training became an additional focus for Emergency Management.
In 2003, Angela Balfe was promoted within the Sheriff’s department, and Marty LeTexier, a deputy sheriff for Minnehaha County, was named Assistant Director of Emergency Management.
In 2004, with the great emphasis on homeland security, it was decided that another fulltime position was needed. The Assistant Director’s position was brought back with Doug Blomker being named as the Assistant Director.
Today, Emergency Management continues to prepare for and respond to emergencies and disasters whether they are natural or man-made.
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Minnehaha County Commission Office
415 N. Dakota Ave.
Sioux Falls, SD 57104
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
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