POCAHONTAS - A retired sheriff who spent 29 years in law enforcement has returned to public service in a new capacity.
For nearly two months, Russ Jergens has served Pocahontas County as its new Emergency Management Agency coordinator.
Jergens decided that he wanted to return to public service after spending nine years away from law enforcement, from which he retired as Palo Alto County sheriff.
-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Russ Jergens, Pocahontas County Emergency Management Agency coordinator, examines two new maps of the county in his office at the Pocahontas County Courthouse.
"I missed helping people and working with the public," Jergens said.
Some of his prior experience made him interested in being EMA coordinator.
"I was chairman of the 911 board (in Palo Alto County) and the emergency management chairman," he said. "I had knowledge of that and an interest in it. When the position became available here, I was approached by a couple of mayors asking me if I was interested, and here I am."
Since starting on May 3, Jergens said he's been kept busy, especially with the stormy weather Pocahontas County experienced almost two weeks ago.
"With all the foul weather we've had, I've been entering reports and forms for the state and federal government for the local flooding," Jergens said. "I've been taking damage reports and doing telephone conferences."
"Any man-made or natural-made disaster, I am the reporting contact for the state and federal government," he added.
Other responsibilities include being the director of the 911 commission.
"I oversee the responsibilities for the 911 system as well as its updates and continuing work," he said. "They also gave me the responsibility of being the safety director for the county. I oversee the safety practices of county employees."
With the flooding and storms, Jergens said his job has been "hectic."
"Early on we were able to get the governor's proclamation for our county," he said. "That's good for our county, because it enables resources to be made available through the state as far as reimbursements and programs for people to help with damages to private property."
Though it's been hectic, Jergens said he's been enjoying the past 60 days on the job.
He credits the two prior emergency management coordinators for making the transition smooth.
"They had a lot of things in place and a lot of things going," he said. "There's some loose ends I look forward to getting tied up and some compliance issues submitted to the state. I'm fortunate to have a supportive commission to work with me and encourage me."
He added that he's already making plans for the county.
"We recently secured funding for AEDs to put in city halls throughout the county," he said. "We're also working on some projects that will hopefully be realized within the next year or so."
An AED is an automatic external defibrillator.
Jergens is looking forward to his tenure with emergency management.
"It's good to be back serving the public," he said. "I'm looking forward to helping the communities have a better response with their emergency services."