Wadena County's Tyler Wheeler earns director emergency management certification

Wheeler will continue emergency management education throughout his career.

Tyler Wheeler Emergency Management Director Certificate 2021.jpg
Wadena County Sheriff’s Office deputy and Emergency Management Director Tyler Wheeler, center right, earned his director emergency management certification in December 2021. Contributed / Ryan Odden

After hundreds of hours of courses, Wadena County Sheriff’s Office deputy and Emergency Management Director Tyler Wheeler earned his director emergency management certification.

He and Sgt. Bryan Savaloja earned the basic Emergency Management certification in 2018 from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) division Wheeler has worked with the Sheriff’s Office since 2012 and started in the emergency management position in 2017.

“Training is a key component of the HSEM mission of helping Minnesota prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters,” Lisa Villcheck read from a letter. She is the HSEM Region 4 program coordinator. “The challenges of securing our communities and managing emergencies continue to grow as do the demands to stay current with technology, doctrine and policy development.”

Wheeler will continue emergency management education throughout his career.

New vehicles coming to the Sheriff’s Office

The Sheriff’s Office is replacing a squad vehicle and purchasing two patrol vehicles. One vehicle was totaled in a deer accident, and the other two vehicles were on the replacement schedule.


The 2021 squad car was totaled after a deer collision on Nov. 8. MCIT issued a $23,191.90 check for a new squad vehicle and will be sending additional funds for equipment, decals and body shop bills. The vehicle had about 11,000 miles on it. With the vehicle backlog, Chief Deputy Joe Schoon said the vehicle could arrive in four to five months. The difference between the additional funds and the equipment costs will be paid by the county.

A new squad and Ford F150 responder will join the fleet as well when they arrive in several months. One will serve as a patrol vehicle and one as an emergency management vehicle. The office’s 2013 Ram truck will be traded in when the F150 comes in. They will trade-in the vehicle for $13,500 and sell two SUVs in the spring after presenting to the board. Commissioner Bill Stearns abstained since he owns Ford stocks.

The board also:

  • Discussed updating the dispatch center with new flooring, lighting and furniture for $60,000. The space was last remodeled in 2009. The command counsel with computers, TV screens and camera monitoring is a 24/7 operation run by at least two officers, as Savaloja described. Savaloja said the estimate is “daunting,” and is due to the 24/7 need of the items. Commissioners agreed there is a need and Savaloja will present formal price quotes at the Dec. 21 meeting. The dispatch center would be temporarily relocated during the remodel.

  • Thanked county attorney Kyra Ladd for her dedicated work to the county and representing rural Minnesota at the state level. Ladd received the 2021 Minnesota County Attorneys Association Award of Excellence .

  • Heard the annual feedlot report , including how feedlots have shrunk over the years as people had to sell or have smaller operations due to the drought, as SWCD district technician Mitchell Janson said. The county has about 80 registered feedlots and will likely lose 4-5 and gain 1-2. Janson also noted cost-share funding available for closing old manure pits.

  • Approved purchasing 15 omni-ballot voter assistive devices. Most of the cost will be covered through state grants. The county’s cost is between $5-10,000 for recycling the old machines, shipping and training. The equipment includes an iPad, printer and braille and audio attachments. A voter assistive machine is available at each polling location for people with disabilities. Aldrich, Nimrod and Shell River vote by mail and do not plan to return to offering in-person voting, according to Wadena County election coordinator Joy Weyer. The city of Wadena will have two machines due to their number of voters, though the second machine and the one from the county office can be used as spares on Election Day as needed.

  • Approved adding a general fund line item for the Conservation Fund committee of $1,000. There are two citizen members on the board, who will receive $60 per meeting as well as covered miles. Commissioner Murlyn Kreklau said the committee isn’t going to meet a lot but the hope is for the county to acquire the land to generate more revenue and offer uses for citizens.

  • Approved the final payment for the County Road 100 mill and overlay project for $27,175.01 to Central Specialties. The project was completed in September.

  • Approved entering a multistate settlement agreement relating to opioid distribution and manufacturers in the opioid crisis.

  • Approved the 2022 Convene training for $999. Commissioners previously noted the cost is higher than $999 and wondered if the training was necessary. County coordinator Ryan Odden said the training is especially beneficial to social workers and the trauma informed care committee has become more efficient over the past year.

  • Nominated Stearns for the Sourcewell Board of Directors ballot.

  • Discussed the Wadena Development Authority buying additional lots in the Folkestad addition where Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation homes are being built. The WDA will present at the Dec. 21 meeting about American Rescue Act funds going towards a sewer and water project.

By consent, the board approved:

  • The state board of Soil & Water Natural Resources block grant for 2022-23 for $152,286.

  • The 2022 West Central Minnesota Communities Action contract for health and developmental screening for Head Start students who have not had a screening before entering the program.

  • Reducing Mary Jo Pieper’s hours from 100% to 80%. Commissioner Jon Kangas asked if the 20% difference was originally necessary or could this be a staff reduction consideration. Public Health assistant director Erica Keppers and director Cindy Pederson said her responsibilities can be moved to different nurses as Public Health’s projects “ebb and flow.” Pieper is also nearing retirement.

  • Public Health’s rental agreement with the First English Lutheran Church in Menahga through December 2023 for $65 per month. The space serves as a clinic site with services such as the women, children and infant nutritional program, child health screenings and immunizations.

  • The contract with Dr. Leonard Lamberty as Public Health medical consultant through July 2022. The contract includes a $525 increase and increased pay for work related to COVID-19. He plans to retire after working in this position for several years.

  • The children’s mental health grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services for mental health screenings, assessments and intensive in-home treatment services. Wadena County Human Services has mental health services available for children, adolescents and adults. You can call at 218-631-7605 to have your case screened and learn about a case manager.

  • A Big Idea grant for 2022-23 to help youth transition out of foster care, such as obtaining a driver’s license, household supplies, further schooling and independent living skills.

Tyler Wheeler is the newly appointed Wadena County Emergency Management Director. Anna Erickson/Pioneer Journal
Tyler Wheeler is the newly appointed Wadena County Emergency Management Director. Anna Erickson/Pioneer Journal

Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in enhancing online articles as well as education, feature and health reporting.
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