Isanti County commissioners welcomed a new sheriff and chief deputy who both took the oath of office at the May 1 board meeting.
Sworn in were new Sheriff Bill Guenther, who replaces the retiring Russ Monson, and new Chief Deputy Sheriff Chris Caulk, who replaces Guenther. Both men will serve out the existing sheriff term, which concludes December 31, 2014.
“I guess I never thought I’d see this day,” said Guenther later that morning. “I’ll do the best job I possibly can.”
Guenther, a native of Bloomington, Minn., started his career in law enforcement in 1981, when he became an officer for the Braham Police Department. Six years later, he joined the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office where he made sergeant and was tasked with leading the first formally trained SWAT team in 1997. He was appointed to the chief deputy position under Sheriff Monson in May 2009.
Reflecting on his years in law enforcement, Guenther said he followed the philosophy, “Do your job, do it right.” He credits this, along with his leadership abilities, as to what helped him reach this point in his career.
However, don’t expect him to run for sheriff in the 2014 election, which will determine the next sheriff starting on January 1, 2015. “I’ll have 34 years in (by that time), and I plan to retire when this term is up,” Guenther said.
Growing up on a farm in Watertown, S.D., Caulk began his career in law enforcement in 1996, when he became a full-time officer for the city of Motley, Minn. Working in different capacities, including duties in the Wadena area, he then moved on to St. James, Minn., where he continued serving as a police officer.
It was October 1998 when Caulk joined the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office as a full-time deputy. Now, as chief deputy sheriff, he is thankful for the opportunity.
“I’m humbled and appreciative of the fact that I was selected to do this,” Caulk said outside the county board room. “Being a part of the administrative team is something I will very much enjoy. I remember where I came from. I’ll look after the troops, treat people as people and be a good listener to the community.
“It’s a new challenge in life, and I’m up for it. I have the support of my family, faith and the department,” he added.
In other action, the board:
• Agreed to send the issue of collaborating on a Citizens Academy with the city of Cambridge back to the Committee of the Whole for more discussion.
• Approved a labor agreement with non-contract employees.
• Approved resolutions authorizing sponsorship of the Grandy-Bock Snowmobile Trail (Northern Lites), Mystic Trails Snowmobile Trail (Mystic Riders) and Cambridge, Weber, Stark Trail (Cambridge Drift Dusters).
• Approved right of way payments totaling $2,640 for widening of roadway for the Co. Rd. 32 bridge project.
• Approved a temporary 3.2 beer license for the Cambridge Firefighters Relief Association and the department’s “Fire on the Rum” concert June 15 at the county fairgrounds.
• Ratified the hire of Ashton Erickson, Clark Edblad and Jacob Sorteberg as seasonal Boat and Water Safety Patrol. Each will earn $15 per hour.
• Ratified the following hires for the sheriff’s office: Noah Heiller, deputy sheriff; Andrea Courneya, sheriff administrative assistant; and Brandon Jokinen, Taran Leight, Tom Kordiak, Brian Dobbick and Estee Kolles as part-time correctional officers.
• Agreed to send out “acquisition interest letters” to various property owners to help preserve and provide access to high quality natural resources by expanding Isanti County’s park system.
• Accepted a grant award to hire an intern to complete a master plan for Irving and John Anderson County Park. The intern would be supported by the Center for Rural Design with $3,000 in funding from the park department’s special projects budget and a $1,500 grant from the Initiative Foundation.
• Approved the following as requested by probation director Tim MacMillan: a Rural Electronic Alcohol Monitoring Grant, $18,000; Caseload Workload Reduction Grant, $129,124; and the Isanti County Integrated Collaborative Interagency Agreement.