Diane Thorson – Otter Tail County Public Health
Otter Tail County Public Health has been the fiscal host for the Safe Communities Coalition grant since its inception in 2005. Diane Thorson has overseen the entire grant operation since that time, and has worked each spring to secure the necessary funding to keep the project going. Diane’s common-sense yet visionary approach paired with a sense of humor and purpose make her a very effective administrator of this grant, as well as many other community health services. The results of her administrative skills are evident in the excellence of public health services that are provided to all county residents, including this Safe Roads grant.
Thank you, Diane, for all you do and for your on-going work and commitment to Driving Otter Tail County Toward Zero Deaths on our highways!
Shannon Riggle – Fergus Falls Police Department
Shannon serves as the administrative coordinator for the police department. Although Shannon’s function is not in the role of enforcement, she plays an integral role in traffic safety for the Fergus Falls Police Department. She has taken on many duties beyond her primary role including being an active member of the Safe Communities Coalition and a partner with the Toward Zero Deaths statewide initiative. Shannon organizes public service announcements, media releases via social networking sites, creating and organizing photo-ops and billboard messages and brainstorming creative ideas to further educate the public about the dangers of high risk driving behaviors.
Shannon is a behind the scenes organizer and motivator that does a bulk of the work and receives little of the credit. Because of her influence, upbeat attitude and desire to make a difference, she has made Fergus Falls and Otter Tail County a safer place!
The 2015/2016 M State- Fergus Falls campus Student Senate was comprised of 19 students representing a cross section of MState’s student body. Part of their work this year was being involved in a new grant-funded drug and alcohol prevention project operating at M State- Fergus Falls. In addition to providing invaluable guidance, input, and feedback to the project, the Student Senators also went to work to assist the Safe Communities Coalition in putting on an event at our campus. The Impaired Driving Event, featuring guest speaker Lynn Mickelson, was held December 10th, 2015 in Legacy Hall. The Student Senators assisted with promoting and advising for the event, setup, and manning different activities and booths during the event, cleanup, and anything else that was asked of them. They showed great work ethic, enthusiasm, and interest in making a positive impact at M State and in Fergus Falls. Their dedication to affecting positive change for their fellow M State students is to be commended.
Deputy Jordan Anderson – Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Department
Deputy Anderson has been an active and involved member of the Safe Communities Coalition for the past three years. He adds thoughtful insight and suggestions at meetings, and volunteers his time to help with multiple events and activities hosted by the Coalition throughout the community. In addition, Deputy Anderson is knowledgeable about TZD efforts, has worked numerous hours of extra enforcement, and conducts numerous stops while on patrol to routinely enhance safety.
Thank you, Deputy Anderson, all you do for the Safe Communities Coalition, and for the work you do to drive Otter Tail County Toward Zero Deaths on the roadways!
Officer Lucas Delaney – Fergus Falls Police Department
Officer Delaney has worked with the Fergus Falls Police Department for just over two and a half years. During this time, Delaney has proven himself to be an advocate of traffic safety in all areas of special concern including: distracted driving, impaired driving, and behaviors that increase the risk of injuries such as lack of seat belt use and speed. Delaney has consistently participated in working extra shifts under the Toward Zero Deaths grant program and led the agency in 2015 with the highest number of impaired driving arrests. During 2015, Delaney had over 600 traffic related contacts with 232 resulting in enforcement action.
At all times, Officer Delaney conducts himself in a fair and courteous manner while enforcing or instructing the motoring public in safe driving habits. His work ethic and concern for the safety of the citizens of Fergus Falls positively reflects the mission and role of traffic enforcement by the Fergus Falls Police Department.
Trooper Brian Gibbs – Minnesota State Patrol
Trp. Gibbs started with the Minnesota State Patrol in 1996. In 2004, he came to the Fergus Falls station. This summer he will be taking over added responsibilities of station sergeant as the most senior troop in the beat. In his decade plus serving the citizens of Otter Tail County, Trp. Gibbs has been very consistent in his enforcement activities relating to speed, seat belts and impaired drivers. He is quick to respond to critical incidents and to assist local agencies in any way he can. He also uses his twenty years of law enforcement experience to mentor the younger troops transferring into the Fergus Falls Station.
For these reasons and many more, Trp. Gibbs is Otter Tail County’s outstanding Trooper of the Year!
Deputy JJ Krupich – Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Department
Deputy JJ Krupich has worked numerous hours of extra enforcement, conducted numerous stops and helped prosecute cases to enhance the safety of Otter Tail County. Deputy Krupich has demonstrated a high number of traffic stops and cases while working his normal scheduled shifts. This type of dedication enhances the quality of life in our community, and shows the public our dedication to the citizens of OTC.
Thank you, Deputy Krupich, for the work you do to drive Otter Tail County Toward Zero Deaths on the roadways!
Officer Elliot Stoll – New York Mills/Perham Police Departments
Officer Stoll began his career with New York Mills in July of 2014 and has been very active in traffic enforcement ever since. In 2015, Officer Stoll worked countless extra hours in regards to Minnesota’s Towards Zero Deaths Initiative, enforcing traffic laws and trying to educate drivers to help limit accidents. Officer Stoll is always willing to work the extra hours needed to help get the word out. He is routinely out making contacts with drivers and not only issuing citations, but also educating the public on the dangers of speeding, no seatbelt usage, distracted driving, and impaired driving and the effect they can have relating to traffic accidents. He makes himself visible to the public and is an example to other Officers in the department.
Thank you, Officer Stoll, for going above and beyond to help make Otter Tail County roads safer!
On March 16, 2015, Elias Youngblom was traveling home to Coon Rapids from the Fargo area. He was driving eastbound on Interstate 94 near Fergus Falls when, through no fault of his own, he was struck head on at freeway speeds by a vehicle that was traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes of the interstate. The other driver was later determined to have a blood alcohol concentration of .19. After impact, Elias’ vehicle left the interstate and came to rest well down into the ditch. Elias suffered significant life threatening injuries. Had he not been wearing his seat belt in combination with his vehicle’s airbags he most certainly would have been killed in the crash.
His life has forever been changed, but he is still here with us today because of the choice he made to buckle up. His positive attitude in the face of this unthinkable incident is an inspiration to us all, which is why today Mr. Youngblom is being honored with this Saved by the Belt award. The Safe Communities Coalition and the Minnesota State Patrol commends you for your lifesaving choice and the strong example you provide to others on the importance of buckling up. You are living proof that seat belts save lives!