MINK CREEK – Warren Wilde is the emergency services director for Franklin County and he is preparing for flooding this year. He ordered 15,000 sandbags ready for residents to fill and take to protect their homes.
Residents have filled and taken 10,000 sandbags already, so Wilde ordered 10,000 more from his Kellogg, ID source.
“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “We are getting the bags so individuals can take care of themselves; Franklin City and Clifton are doing the same.”
The 86-year-old has been the emergency director since 1979, while he was still teaching at Preston High School. This year they are mostly worried about some of the houses along the golf course where flooding has been a problem in the past.
“I have four feet of snow in my front yard. All this snow reminds me of the blizzard we had in the ‘80’s; it shut the entire county down for a couple of days,” he said. “The dairy farms needed snowplows and road graders to clear the roads so their milk could be picked up and delivered. We picked up people’s prescriptions from the pharmacy and delivered them on snowmobiles. We got through it.”
He and his wife Colleen live in Mink Creek, approximately 15 miles northeast of Preston. Wilde has an emergency operations center at his house behind his garage where he can direct the work during emergencies. They moved into their home in 1968, the year they got married, raised two children, and never left.
“I can talk to people all over the world with my HAM radio and I can also use local and state radios,” Wilde said. “We also have and Emergency Operation Center in the county building where the deputy emergency coordinator La Mont Doney can jump in and direct the work.”
Wilde has both amateur and commercial licenses and radios he still operates. He and the 22 other active HAM radio operators in Franklin County all check in once a week on Sundays. They can all run on battery powered, handheld portables on a snowmobile if all other communication goes down.
“I don’t have cell phone coverage at my home phone,” the retired schoolteacher said. “I taught at Preston High School for 37 years and retired in 1998.“
Besides his work with the county’s emergency services, he also was a part of a tri-county snowmobile grooming association. He and members from Caribou and Bear Lake County would coordinate grooming snowmobile trails in the respective counties.
Wilde was also part of the Idaho Snowmobile Association and has served as president, historian and was their magazine editor for over 25 years.
He is also part of a three man panel that scrutinizes people who want to join Search and Rescue as a snowmobile team member in Idaho.
Wilde is no slouch when it comes to handguns either. He has 226 trophies and plaques awarded for his marksmanship with a handgun hanging on his walls. He also has 13 national championship awards.
“I’m the old fart on the block,” he said. “But I’ve been around and seen a lot of things happen over the years but nothing we can’t handle.”