Reynolds honors SKYWARN team


Des Moines County group honored for storm-spotting service

DES MOINES - Several individuals from the Des Moines County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and SKYWARN received a Governor’s Volunteer Award from Governor Kim Reynolds and Lt. Governor Adam Gregg during a special recognition ceremony held Ottumwa, Iowa on Thursday.

The program recognizes those dedicated individuals and groups who volunteer their time and talent to help an agency or organization to deliver on its mission.

“Iowans take great pride in their deep and rich commitment for serving others—it’s in our DNA,” Gov. Reynolds said. “Iowa nice is the foundation of our state--you see it everywhere you turn-- Iowans volunteering their time to help others and improve their communities and our state. It truly is an honor to be able to recognize these individuals for their meaningful acts of generosity through the Governor’s Volunteer Awards and inspire others to do the same.” 

Volunteers from the CERT team who were presented with 5-year length of service awards were: Deborah Adams, Karl Daves, and Melissa Mixer. Dan Wischmeier received recognition for 5 years of service to the SKYWARN team. Tara Boecker, Kela Lehman, Dan Moeller, and Robert Wilson were honored with 10-year length of service awards for CERT, while Barney Paytes was presented a 15-year length of service award for volunteering with CERT. As a bonus, the Des Moines County CERT team (as a whole) was granted an award for being active for 15-years running. These individuals exemplify what it means to be there for others and give unselfishly of their time and talents.

According to Gina Hardin, Des Moines County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, “These individuals, plus other members of these teams, put in hundreds of hours in a year to help the community, whether it be providing weather reports to the National Weather Service, assisting first responders in their missions or supporting other local groups with traffic and crowd control at events and parades held through-out our community.”

Both teams are managed by the Des Moines County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). “We are always looking for new volunteers who are interested in helping out the community”, according to Hardin. “We will be hosting a CERT (training) Academy in November and will be looking for new weather spotters next year prior to the traditional spring and summer storm season.” More information on both programs can be found on the EMA website at or follow us on Facebook or call 319-753-8206.

The Des Moines County CERT organization is a pool of volunteers who have joined together and have been educated about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact the area we live in. They have been trained in basic disaster response skills and are able to give support to the emergency response agencies such as fire and law enforcement in the area. CERT volunteers are trained to give critical support to their family, loved ones, neighbors and co-workers until help arrives. CERT members also provide services to other volunteer groups for traffic and crowd control at events when requested. 

Many of the individuals who are members of the local CERT are also weather spotters and members of Des Moines County SKYWARN. Spotters are trained to safely report weather conditions such as wind gusts, hail size, rainfall, and cloud formations that could signal a developing tornado or other severe weather. These local reports are shared with the National Weather Service to assist them in making warning decisions based upon these ground truth weather conditions.

Coordinated by Volunteer Iowa, the Governor's Volunteer Award program is now in its 38th year—provides an easy way for Iowa nonprofits, charitable organizations, and government entities to honor their volunteers with a prestigious, state-level award. More information is available at


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