Former Grundy County Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Lutz died Jan. 31, one day before the seven-year anniversary of the great blizzard of 2011, for which he prepared the community and helped them through it.
Lutz served as EMA director for 34 years before retiring in 2014. He served as deputy director for four years prior to that.
Joe Schroeder was deputy director under Lutz for five years and has been director since Lutz’s retirement.
“He was a dedicated public servant,” Schroeder said of Lutz. “He was very knowledgeable, a good leader, and he was a great mentor to me. ... He was a great asset and an all-around people person.”
The Grundy County EMA is responsible for coordinating emergency and disaster preparedness, response and recovery efforts.
In February 2011, the area was socked with such a strong blizzard that even the county’s heavy snow plows couldn’t even get through. One plow even ended up in a ditch off Route 47 near Mazon.
Lutz led efforts to prepare for that storm, get the community through it and recover from it. He also helped organize the Blizzard Task Force in 2013 – now called the Grundy County Emergency Task force - that put plans in place to better deal with such storms in the future.
Lutz’s plans still are in place, Schroeder said.
“A lot of the programs Jim developed remain today,” he said, “and even the new programs are built on the foundations of his programs.”
Running the EMA was not an easy task, either, Schroeder explained. Grundy is the only county in the nation that must deal with three nuclear emergency planning zones, which involve developing plans for accidents and keeping them up to date.
Lutz developed a passion for climatology early in life and even ran his own weather station at his home.
He is survived by his wife, Brenda, three children and grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements will be through Fred C. Dames Morris Chapel.