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DNR early retirements to be felt in region

ST. PAUL -- Two managers responsible for some of this area's most highly-regarded and popular resources have left the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as part of a retirement incentive program.

Tuesday was the last day on the job for Bruce Gilbertson, who has managed the DNR's fisheries office in Spicer since 1994; and Paul Otto, who has managed Sibley State Park for just a few days shy of 10 years.

Otto completes a 35½-years career with the DNR. Gilbertson served 36 continuous years with the DNR, 38 years when seasonal positions are included.

The experience of two other respected, long-time DNR employees in the DNR fisheries office in Spicer is also being lost as a result of the retirement incentive. Jan Franklin, office and administrative specialist, and Dennis Blumke, natural resources technician, also took advantage of the early retirement package.

Statewide, the DNR saw 120 employees or 4.5 percent of its workforce opt for the early retirement program, according to published reports. State legislation offered two years of employer-supplied health insurance for employees who qualified for the retirement.

Both Otto and Gilbertson described the opportunity as too good to pass up, but both also noted that consideration for the ramifications of the state's budget situation figured in their decisions. Gilbertson said that he did not want to find himself in a position of being one or two years away from retirement only to see less-senior workers with young families laid off.

Both Otto and Gilbertson expect their positions to be refilled, but are unsure of the timing. The Spicer fisheries office has included a full time staff of nine, but Gilbertson anticipates that it will be pared to eight through the attrition.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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