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County recognizes employees

Roper also elected as chairman

January 8, 2017
Cody Benjamin - Register Staff Writer ( , Faribault County Register

Words of gratitude flew around the commissioners room at the Faribault County Courthouse Tuesday morning, as the board recognized longtime county employees and acknowledged some of its own personnel as part of its regular meeting.

After a unanimous vote approved District 1 representative John Roper as the board's new chairman, as well as District 2's Greg Young as vice chair, the commissioners recognized 22 different county staff members 11 for their retirements in 2016 and a crop of others for their varying years of service to Faribault County.

Kicking off the list of honorees was deputy assessor Steve Robbins, who visited the meeting along with at least five others during a presentation of certificates by the board.

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Faribault County Chief Deputy Scott Adams was one of several employees who were recognized by the County Board for their years of service. He is being congratulated by county commissioner Tom Loveall.

Recognized not only for at least 35 years of service to the county but also as a nominee for an Excellence in Performance award, Robbins was deemed "a supreme force" in his department by assessor Gertrude Paschke, who was also in attendance.

"He has proven himself a valuable employee repeatedly," said Central Services director Dawn Fellows, relaying Paschke's nomination of Robbins. "He is exceedingly professional and exudes dedication as he continues to serve the public with profound excellence." Robbins was also recognized for his role in the 2016 makeover of the assessor's department.

"Although Steve has retained the deputy assessor position for more than a decade," Fellows said, "his responsibilities have been elevated (and) he has transitioned well in acclimating himself with the restructuring."

Applauding for Robbins along with the county commissioners, Paschke herself was part of that restructuring in the assessor's office. And she was officially sworn into a four-year term during Tuesday's meeting as well, marking her second official appointment to the assessor position since August.

Also receiving recognition during Tuesday's board meeting were county auditor John Thompson and jail administrator Joe Anderson, who have each logged at least 30 years of service; LeAnn Eastman, recently retired from the license bureau, and Public Works employees Bohn Oelke, Carl Wentz and Randy Ricken, who all had at least 25 years of service; Public Works' James Tonn, corrections officer Mark Lacher and chief deputy Scott Adams, who have 20 years under their belt; tax clerk Lorrie Bosma and commissioner Tom Warmka, who have served at least 15 years; and deputy Mark Purvis, who's had at least a decade of service.

Along with Oelke and Eastman, Bonita Zimmer, James Franzen, Gerri Peter, Sue Cory, Ron Gaines, Trish Gjere, Don Anderson, Mary Evans and Roger Perrizo were also recognized as retirees from the past year.

Warmka, who turned over County Board chairman duties to Roper earlier in the meeting, congratulated the entire bunch of honorees before reflecting on his own tenure on the county staff.

"Fifteen years, it doesn't really seem that long," he said. "I've worked with 11 other commissioners in those 15 years, so in military terms, that'd be a high casualty rate, but it's been a lot of fun. When you've got good people to work with, I've truly enjoyed my job."

At Tuesday's meeting, the County Board also:

Appointed Thompson as interim Planning and Zoning director.

The move, which follows an expected transition by Soil and Water Conservation District's Michele Stindtman from Planning and Zoning administration, puts Thompson temporarily in charge of the department until a replacement officially begins work.

In a corresponding move, the commissioners also voted to unanimously approve the hiring of Loria Rebuffoni to the zoning department.

Recommended by Fellows, who presented the request for approval, the new hire brings "a lot of experience," including locally, in Bricelyn, and with the city of Minneapolis. She is anticipated to begin work on Jan. 10.

Approved individual and whole-board appointments to various committees for the next year.

Most of the commissioners' 2016 responsibilities were carried over as usual, although potential appointments to things like the Faribault County Fair Board and Ag Society were struck from consideration.

Citing Attorney General rulings on years-old questions regarding the legality of county commissioners serving on fair boards, county attorney Troy Timmerman told the board that an appointment of commissioners to the Faribault County Fair Board would be viewed as "incompatible."

Roper responded by claiming his contributions to the fair board would come as a member of the public rather than a representative of the county, but fellow commissioner Tom Loveall still emphasized that an entire-board appointment would not be possible.

"No. 1, the county attorney says we shouldn't be on there (the fair board)," Loveall said. "And No. 2, we can't appoint ourselves."

Ultimately, the board agreed to remove Fair Board and Ag Society appointments from their standard list of committee assignments, at least as far as full-board participation is concerned.

Agreed to set the county's 2017 gopher bounty at 50 cents for striped and grey gophers and $2 for pocket gophers.

Roper also asked the board whether or not it wanted to offer a bounty for coyotes, citing comments from constituents, but Loveall insisted "you will not control coyotes with shooting," leading the commissioners to leave the bounties as they were in 2016.

Confirmed with county engineer Mark Daly that the Public Works department was sanding roads, including County Road 16, after freezing rain earlier in the week.



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