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Flaten to replace long-time sheriff, Rollins, in Yellow Medicine County

GRANITE FALLS -- Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's Deputy Bill Flaten will serve as sheriff of the county upon the retirement of current Sheriff Rich Rollins on March 1.

The Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday selected Flaten to succeed Rollins in the post. The members made their decision after interviewing Flaten and fellow Sheriff's Deputy Wayne DeBlieck, according to information provided by County Administrator John Chattin.

Rollins announced in December that he intended to retire after 34 years in law enforcement, 23 of them as sheriff of Yellow Medicine County.

Flaten began his career in law enforcement with the Yellow Medicine Sheriff's County Department, where he has served as a sheriff's deputy for more than 11 years.

Flaten said he is very excited about the new opportunity and looks forward to working with what he described as an experienced and talented staff.

"We have a great bunch of employees,'' said Flaten.

He said he intends to "keep the door open'' and welcome input from the public and co-workers. He said he will continue to emphasize the importance of good community relations.

As sheriff, Flaten said he will also work to continue to incorporate new technologies to meet law enforcement needs.

He is anticipating a smooth transition into his new role. Rollins has already assured him that he would remain available and assist him as he learns his new duties.

A native of Staples, Flaten said he has long been interested in a career in law enforcement. He said he enjoys the camaraderie of working with others that the career offers. He also likes the opportunity it provides to help others and make the rural area and communities safer, better places to live.

He attended Concordia College, Moorhead, before acquiring his degree in law enforcement at the Willmar Community College, now Ridgewater College. He also undertook a variety of other law enforcement educational opportunities, including a 12-week skills development program offered by the police sciences department at the Alexandria Technical College.

A resident of Granite Falls, Flaten and his wife of eight years, Kristi, are parents to a 6-month-old son, Andrew.

As sheriff, Flaten will direct a department that includes five full-time deputies and eight officers available on a needs basis. He is also responsible for a staff of 12 full-time and eight part-time workers overseeing the county's 40-bed jail.

His appointment is for the remainder of Rollin's term as sheriff, or until the end of this year. Flaten said he intends to seek election to the position this fall.