A new emergency management director has been hired for Douglas County.

Julie Anderson, who has been the deputy emergency management director for a little over a year, was officially hired as the full-time director at a special Douglas County Board meeting Dec. 28.

She is taking over for Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen, who, besides being the sheriff full-time, served as the emergency management director for the last 12 years.

Wolbersen presented the idea of hiring a full-time emergency management director to the county commissioners. He felt - and the commissioners agreed - that the county would be best served by a full-time director because of the increased responsibilities, and expectations.

Besides her role as the county's emergency management director, Anderson will also take on the responsibilities of being the county's public information officer, a position that serves as the communications coordinator or spokesperson for various governmental agencies.

Commissioner Charlie Meyer said that a public information officer is a valuable position in the county and he feels it will lead to fewer misunderstandings, and improve communication within the county.

"We really have a great candidate in Julie," said Meyer, and the other commissioners agreed.

Anderson actually got her start in Alexandria, working as a reporter for the former Alexandria station KCMT-TV. She also worked for the Department of Public Safety for five years, where she was a public information officer and earned her emergency management certification.

Most recently, she worked full-time for Lakes Country Service Cooperative out of Fergus Falls.

She said she is looking forward to working with the county commissioners, sheriff's office and other county employees in both of her new roles. And she is looking forward to helping make sure the county is ready to respond and recover if and when a large emergency strikes.

Anderson will begin her duties as the emergency management director and public information officer sometime in January. Her official start date has not been set.

Also at Friday's meeting, the commissioners also approved forming a public information officer advisory committee.

The idea behind forming the committee, said county coordinator Heather Schlangen, is to help Anderson in her new role and to make sure the correct messaging is being presented. Schlangen said Anderson will have to make sure that consistent messages are being delivered to the staff, as well as the public. It was under Schlangen's recommendation that the committee was formed.

The committee will include at least two county commissioners and Schlangen, and when it is deemed no longer necessary, the committee will disband.