Outagamie County looks to replace emergency management director with sheriff

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson (WBAY file photo)
Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson (WBAY file photo)(WBAY)
Published: Jun. 8, 2020 at 4:33 PM CDT
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A proposal is on the table for the Outagamie County sheriff to take over the county's emergency management director position.

Action 2 News learned that Lisa VanSchyndel, the county emergency management director, is no longer employed with Outagamie County.

Lisa VanSchyndel had led Outagamie County through storm cleanup -- several times -- the implementation of an emergency alert text program, and most recently the community-wide testing for COVID-19.

According to County Executive Tom Nelson, the role of emergency management during those times was fine, but he'd like to see a more streamlined system.

Nelson says, "The sheriff and I spoke last week and we were talking about how best we can provide service to the community, specifically better coordination, cooperation, communication, too, and I think during a pandemic it's of utmost importance that we try to have the most coordination across jurisdictions, across disciplines."

Nancy Crowley, who retired after nearly four decades as Emergency Management in Manitowoc County, says putting the sheriff in charge of emergency management in any county is a mistake. Their positions are already demanding, and she says adding the extra responsibilities is not a good idea.

"There's more than just sitting at your desk waiting for the phone to ring and somebody has a disaster that they need. You've got plans that need to be written, they've got to be exercised, training that needs to be followed so you don't get stale. The list goes on and on," says Crowley.

Crowley is also concerned with how the sheriff would be able to keep up with the training required for the emergency management position, since the majority of its funding comes from grants. She adds, "You have certain criteria that need to be met not only in planning but meeting all of the other objectives to stay quantifiable for getting that extra money."

Nelson doesn't seem concerned. He believes the role of the sheriff prepares him to take on the extra responsibility.

According to Nelson, "The sheriff's department has a very, very good relationship across the public safety community, and we think that will continue to be the case."

The county board will vote on the proposal Tuesday night.

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