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Sheriff to retire

Larry Woebbeking says he will retire at end of 2024, halfway through term
Sheriff to retire Sheriff to retire

After 37 years in law enforcement, and 34 of them in Taylor County, sheriff Larry Woebbeking is ready to retire.

“You walk out sometimes and your cup is full,” Woebbeking said, announcing his retirement to members of the Taylor County Law Enforcement committee at the June 13 meeting. Woebbeking plans to retire at the end of 2024. Woebbeking’s position is not up for election until 2026.

Woebbeking quoted former sheriff Don Wright in saying “It is the loneliest job you will ever have.”

Prior to announcing his planned retirement, Woebbeking led the committee in an exercise folding a piece of paper into eight columns each representing a span of 10 years. He then had committee members mark the column See SHERIFF on page 4 closest to their age as a demonstration of how much of their life is behind them versus in front of them.

“It is a tough decision,” said Lynn Rosemeyer, committee chair about Woebbeking’s planned retirement.

“I pretty much grew up in this building,” Woebbeking said, noting his many years with the sheriff’s department here.

The announcement to the committee was a courtesy. Under state law, sheriffs retiring before the end of their term, do so by contacting the governor’s office. Officially, the governor will pick a replacement for the remainder of Woebbeking’s term.

In practice there is staff in the governor’s office which will advertise for the position statewide and screen those expressing interest in it and interviewing applicants and making a recommendation about who the governor should appoint.

Woebbeking said the governor’s staff told him that they would take his input into a successor into account. However, the county board has no input on who should be appointed to fill the remainder of the term.

Woebbeking is hopeful that his replacement could be in place before the end of the year, giving him an opportunity to work with the individual before retiring.


Committee members heard input from County Supervisor Karen Cummings who represents the northwest corner of the county regarding the ambulance service. “There has to be a better situation,” Cummings said, citing incidents going back a year and half ago, where there were long delays in ambulance responding to medical emergencies. “If it wasn’t for the first responders there would be a lot more bad things,” she said, praising the Jump River First Responders group.

Committee member Lorie Floyd noted there have been changes in the department and with the contract and staffing of the ambulance service. With the contract approved earlier this year and staffing increases that went into effect in the beginning of May, it was noted that there is better staffing in the county than in the past.

“I just want everybody to be aware of what the concerns are,” she said, noting the ambulance was the biggest concern people in her district brought up even before she decided to run for the county board.

“They need to know that was over a year ago and we have made a lot of positive improvements to the service,” said ambulance administrator Bob Kirkley.

“It gets very personal very fast,” Cummings said, noting it is especially true when talking to a loved one.

As part of the discussion on ways to continue to improve ambulance response times and coverage, there was a discussion of implementing a flexible response. This is something relatively new in the state which has traditionally had more rigid levels of licensure for ambulance services.

The county is currently at an EMTadvanced level of license which allows EMTs to take more action at emergency scenes. However, the rating also presents challenges in requiring an advanced EMT crewed ambulance to be the first dispatched to a scene.

Under the more flexible option, ambulances could respond, and bill for services, to the level of the staffing on the ambulance from basic up to paramedic level.

Before the site license of Gilman, Medford and Rib Lake were merged into one for the entire county, both Rib Lake and Gilman areas were at EMT level with Medford at advanced EMT.

Going down to an EMT level countywide would give additional flexibility in staff and scheduling for the ambulance service. Kirkley noted that this would not impact what the county is paying for the service, since the contract does not address level of care, only overall staffing. “It looks like a helpful solution to get coverage,” said committee member Darrell Thompson who represents southwestern and south central Taylor County on the board.

“Flex staffing is something that is very new in the state,” said Dan Gellert, county emergency management director. The down side of this is that the level of care could vary greatly with one day having a paramedic level and the next day having basic service.

In other business, committee members:

 Approved running a deficit in the sheriff’s budget in order to replace 12-year old computer equipment that is failing in the dispatch center. The cost of the upgrade is $36,000 and is not currently in the budget. Woebbeking expressed concern about waiting until the budget process for next year to address the issue.

 Approved a request to have the emergency government director position moved from 35 hours per week to 40 hours per week. The position has had expanded duties in recent years which is making it difficult to get it done in the allotted time. Last year the position was bumped up temporarily with supplemental support from a health department grant, however, they are finding that there is not enough time to get to the planning aspects required by the health department grant funding. “We haven’t been hitting those benchmarks we need to get to,” Gellert said.

“I feel it should have been full-time to start with,” Floyd said. “Emergency management is more than what a lot of people think it is,” she said.

The request will go through both the personnel and finance committees before being finalized.

 Received information from Woebbeking that it appears an unused data card was still active on a piece of surplus equipment and that there was a theft of data from someone accessing the card and running up a large bill. It was noticed when Woebbeking was reviewing the bills and saw one much higher than normal. On the plus side, there was no access made into the county’s computer system from the card’s use. It continues to be investigated.

 Approved filling the data records position with the transfer of Christina Schuld from the sheriff’s department to a vacancy in the human resources department.

 Took no action on a new vehicle use policy for the department. The additional language that had been requested was not ready in time for the meeting. It will be put on the agenda for next month.

it wasn’t for the first responders there would be a lot more bad things. ” — Supervisor Karen Cummings


need to know that was over a year ago and we have made a lot of positive improvements to the service.” — Bob Kirkley, Aspirus