County's new emergency management director dives into duties
WORTHINGTON -- A week into his new job as Nobles County's Emergency Management director, Dan Anderson is still learning all of the duties his new job entails.
The job, newly designated as a department head post, involves bringing agencies together to work toward common goals, keeping the county's emergency operations plan up to date and planning various response drills for emergency personnel.
Anderson comes to Worthington with experience in city planning and Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. Both will serve him well in his new role, he said, adding that Nobles County is two years into compiling GIS data.
GIS is a new tool that city, county and state government can use to create graphically enhanced data. As Anderson explained, it's more than just pretty maps and drawings.
"It's a data collection and analysis tool that you can do so much with," he said.
Having worked for the City of Sioux Falls, S.D., planning department since January 2000, Anderson said he basically created that city's GIS position. While there, he worked to record land use information on every parcel in Sioux Falls. That data could later be accessed to learn such things as how many residential homes were in a specific area of the community, or how many acres were needed to complete a housing development.
Information gained from that data is invaluable in planning a city's future growth needs, he added.
"The position built up around me, and in six years I got a healthy dose of planning," Anderson said. "I can take the lessons I learned from a fairly large community and apply those here.
"For all intents and purposes, the position of emergency management is a planning position."
In addition with his GIS work, Anderson said he also plans to concentrate his efforts on emergency operations -- specifically, the response to severe weather events. As a trained weather spotter, he said he will take a proactive stance in planning the response for a severe weather outbreak.
"I want weather to be first and foremost in peoples' minds as we go into the storm season," Anderson said.
That involves making sure people know what to do in the event of severe weather, such as taking shelter instead of trying to be a storm chaser.
"We can't shelter people from the storm," he added. "People need to watch the weather, own a weather radio and seek storm shelter. That is my first thing to tackle -- to get through the storm season without anyone getting hurt."
Anderson is a Sioux Falls native and 1992 graduate of South Dakota State University in Brookings. He earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and worked for three different newspapers in South Dakota before founding Panache, a magazine appealing to the Rapid City, S.D., community.
After passing the magazine on to friends, Anderson worked in pre-press at the Argus Leader and later for a different publication. He returned to SDSU in the fall of 1998 to, as he said, learn a new skill. He went on to earn degrees in history and geography, which included coursework in GIS and planning.
Anderson's office is based at the Nobles County Government Center in downtown Worthington, although he admitted that he will be out and about often in his work with other agencies, including law enforcement, public health and public works. He and his wife, Monica, will reside in Adrian.