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Lake Region jail official fired

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News Dickinson,North Dakota 58602
The Dickinson Press
Lake Region jail official fired
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

DEVILS LAKE — The Lake Region Law Enforcement Center board of directors on Wednesday dismissed embattled LEC operations administrator Denny Deegan.

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The decision was effective immediately.

The 5-3 vote came less than a week after the Ramsey County Commission replaced LEC Chairman Bill Mertens as one of its two board representatives with Commissioner Ed Brown.

Mertens had voted against the dismissal previously in spite of the majority of commissioners favoring dismissal. Brown voted in favor of the dismissal Wednesday.

Casting dissenting votes Wednesday were Devils Lake City Commissioners Rick Morse and Dale Robbins, along with Eddy County Commissioner Jeff Pfau.

Mertens, who attended the meeting, said the board’s decision was wrong.

“I think the board just made a big step backward,” he said. “I think it should have been clear in this meeting, with the reports the staff gave, that the jail is functioning the way it should be functioning. Denny Deegan was doing her job.

“I think the decision was made before this meeting.”

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Deegan did not attend the meeting and was not immediately available for comment.

The LEC has been plagued by staff turnover, wage and overtime issues in recent months.

In April, the North Dakota Department of Corrections ordered the LEC to stop housing juveniles, citing violations of state regulations that resulted from staffing issues.

The board earlier decided to work toward reopening the facility by 2016.

Since the juvenile facility closed, juveniles have been transported to the Grand Forks County Juvenile Detention Center.

Besides the regional jail, the LEC also houses the regional 911 center, the Devils Lake Police Department and Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department.

April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.