by Steve Peterson
Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo said the $3,940 the department received for the Project Lifesaver International will benefit a very worthwhile program.
An early May start-up is planned at both Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office and Le Mars Police Department.
Van Otterloo explained the program after county supervisors approved its funding from Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) Advisory Board recommendations April 9.
The Project Lifesaver International funding received the most votes of dozens of projects which received funds from the $200,000 the county allocated for Fiscal Year 2013-2014.
Clients enrolled in the service will wear a wrist-watch-sized radio transmitter on their wrist or ankle, according to a Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office press release. The transmitter constantly emits a Radio Frequency signal, which can be tracked regardless of where the person has wandered, even into a densely wooded area, a marsh, a concrete structure such as a garage, or a building constructed with steel.
When a loved one goes missing, caregivers notify locally-trained agencies, and they are dispatched to the wanderer’s area. The average time of a rescue is 30 minutes.
“We have been working on implementing this program for more than a year and are excited to get started. We have been fortunate to have secured funding through local LOST grant applications,” said Van Otterloo. “This funding will be of great help to jump-start the program.”
Project Lifesaver International is the leading organization in electronic Search And Rescue programs, and has conducted the mandatory training and provides certification, ongoing management and support to the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office and the Le Mars Police Department.
“Their training includes teaching public safety officials how to use the equipment and how to gain trust of and communicate with people who wander as well as to ensure that caregivers are well versed in the program, all of which are essential to the rescue,” said Van Otterloo. Officers have already received training in the program.
The funds must be spent this fiscal year.
Families and caregivers can enroll their loved ones by contacting these agencies at 712-546-8191 for the Sheriff’s Office and 712-546-4113 for Le Mars Police Department.
Supervisors heard a presentation from Jan Henryson of Sioux Center who gave information on the Center for Financial Education and its programs April 9.
“We are a ministry who helps people and families make better decisions about the resources they have. We work with creditors on payment plans,” said Henryson.
“The average high school graduate graduates with $3,000 in credit card debt. I have had people come into the office and say, ‘How can I be overdrawn, I have checks.’ People are unaware of what to do with their finances. They aren’t getting the financial education at home or school,” said Henryson.
“Our success rate for people who come back after the first visit is 80 percent,” she said. “It can be very challenging. Not everyone is totally receptive to it.”
The Center for Financial Education exists thanks to donations.
“We get referrals from churches, banks and employers,” said Henryson. In other county business:
• Supervisor Jack Guenthner asked Van Otterloo about gun permit sales due to the national concern about gun control legislation.
“We’re down lately but we’ve sold about 1,800,” said Van Otterloo.
• Supervisors and staff are asked to wear teal-colored ties or jeans on Tuesdays in April in support of Council On Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence’s program. April 23 is the big day for that program at the Plymouth County Courthouse.
• Plymouth County supervisors meet each Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at the first floor board room of Plymouth County Courthouse, 215 4th St. SE, Le Mars. Meetings are open to the public.