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Thompson plans to take advantage of early retirement option in July 2006

WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Commissioners approved an early retirement policy Tuesday. Two top-level county officials are expected to take advantage of it.

Wayne Thompson, who has served as the Kandiyohi County administrator for 28 years, will retire in 2006.

Thompson didn't remark about retiring during the meeting, but it's been no secret he intended to retire next year and several commissioners gently teased him about it.

During a brief interview, Thompson, 57, said he will make a formal announcement in July that he will step down from the position. "I could get fired first," he joked.

Thompson, a Vietnam War veteran who later earned a master's degree in administration, previously worked for the Region 6-E Regional Development Commission in Willmar. That agency is currently known as the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission.

He took the Kandiyohi County job in August of 1977.

It's not known how the Commissioners will fill Thompson's post. Giving official notice in July will give the Commissioners time to make a decision before the end of the year, said Thompson.

He said he's not sure what he's going to do when he retires. "I do a lot of fishing and hunting," said Thompson, who was sporting a new beard Tuesday in preparation for an upcoming hunting trip to Colorado.

Marilyn Johnson, who is director of human resources for the county, is also expected to retire in 2006, said Thompson.

The early retirement option is open to full-time employees with 15 or more years of continuous employment with Kandiyohi County and who are eligible to collect a pension from PERA. The option will begin Feb. 1. Retirees will be offered one year of paid health insurance for every three years of service, not to exceed $430 per month, until age 66.

Preliminary plans for a $2 million truck garage for the Kandiyohi County Highway Department were reviewed Tuesday by the County Commissioners. The Commissioners approved a contract with Engan Associates to continue working on plans, but did not take action to proceed with the project. That decision will likely take place in January.

The preliminary plans call for constructing a cast concrete, 20-bay garage with a wash bay. It would replace the existing 1950s building that has structural problems.

Gary Danielson, public works director, said there are several options for funding the project.

The Commissioners approved resolutions with the Department of Natural Resources for constructing a bridge and fishing pier at the outlet of Green Lake on County Road 4. Approval was given to forgive the city of Willmar penalties and fees for back-taxes not paid on property the city purchased for the new airport. The land purchases weren't recorded in time, and the previous land owners, and not the city, received the tax notices for 2003.

The Commissioners agreed to abate taxes on the parcels for 2004.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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