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Ann Stehn appointed interim director of Kanidyohi County, Minn., family services

WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County Public Health Director Ann Stehn will oversee two key county departments while a study is under way to explore a possible redesign of county departments and how services are delivered.

The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday to appoint Stehn as interim director of family services for an undetermined period of time while she continues to serve as public health director.

The county needed someone to fill the family service director spot following the resignation of Jay Kieft, whose last day is March 1.

"I appreciate her willingness to take this on," said County Administrator Larry Kleindl, who praised Stehn for her knowledge of both departments. "This will be a lot of extra work for her."

Commissioner Jim Butterfield said Stehn is "meticulous" in her work and that it was a "natural fit" for her to head both departments.

Kieft's resignation and Stehn's dual assignment will allow the county time to conduct a study on the possibility of combining some county departments -- family services, public health and community corrections.

The study will also explore the pros and cons of working with other counties to share services.

The county had been flirting with the idea of redesigning its organization structure but Kieft's resignation triggered action earlier this month to hire Springsted Inc., a St. Paul consulting firm, to conduct a formal study. During the next two to three months the company will interview commissioners, department heads and other staff to determine what -- if any -- changes would be beneficial.

The commissioners agreed the timing was right to take a look at the division of departmental duties and consider restructuring instead of automatically hiring a full-time replacement for Kieft.

"I wholeheartedly support this (appointing Stehn)," said Chairman Richard Larson, who said the county will now have time to "look at other options" for the county operations.

"These are challenging times but times of great opportunities," said Stehn, adding that the veteran staff in both departments will make it easier for her to handle the added duties.

The county's human resources director, Lynn Travaglio, will assist Stehn with personnel issues.

In other action Tuesday, the commissioners:

- Set the board of appeals and equalization meeting for 6 p.m. June 11.

- Gave authorization to the state Department of Natural Resources to conduct boat inspections at county lake accesses for aquatic invasive species.

- Approved a conditional use permit for a beef cattle feedlot for up to 999 animal units in an A-1 agricultural preservation district in Roseland Township near Blomkest.

- Approved preparation of a mandatory environmental assessment worksheet for Duininck Inc. for a gravel pit in Roseville Township.

- Approved a resolution agreeing to participate in a proposed program for recording emergency radio traffic on a regional basis. If Kandiyohi County is selected, grant money could be used to help pay for additional equipment.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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