Woodbury County Officials May Reach 'Reserves' Compromise

More help may soon be on the way for the Woodbury County Sheriff's Office.

After some very heated debate, the Sheriff and the Board of Supervisors appear closer to adding more volunteers known as "Reserve Deputies."

Sheriff Dave Drew has asked to increase his volunteer reserves from the current 6 to 30.

But he's been met with resistance from the board over a number of concerns.

Despite a sometimes tense meeting Tuesday, it seems that the board may move forward with the expansion.

"Is this a personal issue? Is it a political issue? Act-- that is what the taxpayers of this county elected you to do," said Jim Marshall, Northwest Iowa Labor Council Manager.

Marshall addressed the elephant in the room during the continued three-week saga that some say has taken a personal and political spin.

The dispute between the Sheriff and Board Chairman Larry Clausen has delayed the expansion of the Sheriff's Reserve Program, which currently only has limited volunteers.

Board members worry the growth of the program means a new role and extra liability for the County.

Tuesday's meeting also raised a key question of the difference between a volunteer and an employee, and asked how the county will consider reserves.

The answer was defined afterwards in a conference with the Iowa/Nebraska Wage and Hour Division.

The Division's director noted that for the reserves to be considered employees, their hours and role must be significantly different from that of a volunteer.

That definition has left room for compromise.

"I think we can move forward now as a board and along with the sheriff --and setting a number of volunteers that he would like to have as Woodbury County volunteers for his department," said Supervisor George Boykin.

Sheriff Drew hopes to collaborate and get his crew fully staffed.

"Oh, I think it'll be huge. They are anxious and willing and it's just one of those things, people really want to give back to the community and this is a way," said Drew.

For one reserve, the objective is simple.

"Just give us a number. Let us go out there, help the public," said Reserve Jereme Muller.

The cost of the expansion will continue to be a topic of discussion.

But, the Sheriff notes that most of the expenses are and have been the responsibility of the reserves.

The Board may finalize a solution with a vote at next week's meeting.