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Adams County Sheriff Gene Molbert hangs up badge, takes post in oil patch

From murder investigations and close calls in the courtroom, to unlocking car doors, Gene Molbert walked away from the Adams County Sheriff's Department with a plethora of experiences.

His retirement as sheriff was effective Saturday and Deputy Travis Collins was appointed to take his place.

After more than 20 years of law enforcement for the county, Molbert has taken a job in the oil patch.

"It's time for a change, so I took it," he said. "Law enforcement can get the best of you once in a while."

Molbert began working part time for the Adams County Sheriff's Department in 1988. He went full-time in 1991 and was appointed sheriff in 1994.

Shortly after beginning his career, there was a murder in the county, he said. In 2004, he also investigated an elderly couple's murder-suicide.

"That was kind of a taxing one," Molbert said. "It took a long time to get it all figured out."

In February, he helped subdue Vicente Chacano after he allegedly tried to shoot jurors, Molbert and prosecutor Jonathan Byers after a jury found Chacano guilty of molesting a girl.

"It didn't play into me retiring, no," Molbert said of the incident. "That was an incident that I guess I wish it never would have happened, but I'm glad nobody got hurt. I still hope it wakes up a lot of people."

Though he has worked on many tough cases, Molbert said he has found a lot of humor in the job.

"We still unlock car doors for people," he said. "I've had a couple where they call me about their car doors being locked. I walked up to the driver's door and kind of look around and say 'oh how about I just reach in through the open window on the other side.'"

Adams County Deputy Jason Spoden thinks the transition will go smoothly.

"Gene did a good job and I think Travis will do a good job," Spoden said. "Travis knows his way around. He's been around for awhile so I think he'll do a good job."

Collins, who was unavailable for comment last week, has more than 10 years of experience, Spoden and Molbert said.

"When I talked to the commissioners about retiring I guess I kind of pushed that way," Molbert said. "I suggested that they appoint him."

Adams County Commissioner Kathy Vliem said Collins is a good fit.

"He was willing to just step up to the plate and continue on and he's been working very hard about getting the community involved with different decisions like new deputies," she said. "So I think he's trying very hard."

Collins will have to fill a deputy position with the transition, Vliem said.

"He's been interviewing," she said. "He's involved some young people from the high school, plus the community and a commissioner."

Though Molbert's new job is based in Dickinson, he will continue to reside in Adams County.

"I grew up in Reeder," he said. "I guess I've only lived out of the county for about two and a half years when I lived in Dickinson for a little while working in the oilfield in the early '80s."

Molbert doesn't think he'll miss the work of being sheriff, but says he'll miss the people.

"That's one thing I like about not moving from here -- I'll still go to Hettinger on weekends probably and I'll run into people and talk to them, give them a bad time just like I always did," he said with a laugh.

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