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'Zero doubt' -- Changes come to Stark County Sheriff’s Office; sheriff promotes 4

Daniel Kensinger receives his sergeant stripes at the hands of his children and wife. Photo by James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press 1 / 6
Jesse Hoff being promoted to lieutenant, where he will oversee the Patrol Division of the Stark County Sheriff's Office. Photo by James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press2 / 6
Matthew Keesler being pinned to the rank of sergeant in the Stark County Sheriff's Office. Photo by James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press3 / 6
Timothy Josephson being promoted to the rank of sergeant with the Stark County Sheriff's Office. Photo by James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press4 / 6
Sheriff Lee speaks to a packed audience of the Dickinson Police Department, Stark County Sheriff's Office, Dunn County Sheriff's Office, North Dakota Highway Patrol and esteemed guests during a promotion ceremony for four deputies. Photo by James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press5 / 6
Celebratory cakes in honor of the four Stark County deputies who were promoted by Sheriff Corey Lee. Photo by James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press6 / 6

In a packed room at the Stark County Courthouse, eager guests and members representing four law enforcement agencies witnessed a changing of the guard within the Stark County Sheriff's Office, as four deputies were promoted to leadership positions within the department.

Sheriff Corey Lee addressed the gathering, outlining why each was selected for the position they would soon hold. Lee's wit provided entertainment for those in attendance as he provided brief backgrounds of each deputy.

"I'm nothing without my team," Lee said. "With this group leading our team, I have zero doubt that we will be anything less than a complete and utter success."

Jesse Hoff, Matthew Keesler, Daniel Kensinger and Timothy Josephson were seated in the front of the room directly before the sheriff.

"This is the day that the Stark County Sheriff's Office's journey truly begins," Lee said. "I want everyone to know that I lost a great deal of sleep scrutinizing the positions being filled today and who would fill them."

With those words, the sheriff called Jesse Hoff to the front, where the deputy was formally promoted to the rank of lieutenant.

"What immediately drew me to Jesse was his candor when we spoke about this position," Lee said. "I knew right then and there that his straightforward approach coupled with his intelligence and skill made him the perfect man to lead my patrol division."

Addressing the audience, Lt. Hoff said the ordeal was a little "surreal."

"I'm been doing this for seven years and this will be my first leadership position of this nature," Hoff said. "I've had plenty of opportunities to lead and teach, but I've never had any rank or position to go with it."

Hoff added, "To the citizens of Stark County, I appreciate all the support and well wishes I've received over the previous week, and to Sheriff Lee, I am grateful for the vote of confidence."

Lee next called Matthew Keesler to the front, where the seasoned deputy was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

"Matthew was an easy choice for me. His knowledge in the civil field is unmatched, and he is very much respected by his peers in North Dakota," Lee said. "He is an invaluable member of our team, and this promotion is very much deserved and long overdue."

The newly promoted sergeant, known as the department's jester, addressed the audience in a surprisingly serious tone. Keesler said that he was very optimistic about the direction of the department moving forward and was honored by the promotion.

"It's going to be more of a challenge," Keesler said. "Being a supervisor is something new to me, and I appreciate the confidence that Sheriff Lee put in me and the county puts in me to keep doing what I'm doing for the county."

Keesler added, "I want to say thank you. Nowadays, law enforcement doesn't necessarily get a lot of praise, so when a community gathers around a department like the people of Stark County have, it says a lot to us and it's something we relish."

Following Keesler's promotion, Sheriff Lee called Daniel Kensinger forward. At the hands of his wife and kids, the deputy was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

"Dan cares about the department and our community like they are members of his own family," Lee said. "Not many people know this, but Dan was recently offered a position with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. It's a prestigious position and something that he has had interest in for quite some time. We are truly honored that he has chosen to stay with the department."

Lee added, "He will go a long way, not only in this position but in life. I look forward to tackling impending challenges with him."

Kensinger drew a few laughs from the audience when he adjusted the microphone at the podium to meet his taller-than-average frame.

"This is a chance to really show what I can do for this community, and I look forward to dedicating myself even further to this community," Kessinger said. "We look forward to the direction of the department and we look forward to continuing to provide the best service to the citizens of Stark County."

Rounding out the promotions, Lee called Timothy Josephson to the front, where the sheriff drew laughter with a lighthearted joke about the new sergeant's promotion.

"In all honesty, Tim was promoted a little before the election and now I'm just kind of stuck with him," Lee said. "In seriousness, Tim and I go back a ways. I didn't agree with much of the previous sheriff's methods and decisions, but with Tim I truly believe he got it right."

Lee added, "Tim is an extremely intelligent man, and truly is good for the job. His assistance in this time of transition has been helpful, and I believe that speaks volumes about who he is."

In a very succinct address, Josephson said that this promotion brought meaning to his career.

"In any workplace, it brings meaning to a career to progress and move forward and upwards," he said. "I'm very proud of the career that I've had thus far, and this is the next step."

The evening's events concluded with cake and punch as friends, family, co-workers and guests mingled and celebrated the new face of the Stark County Sheriff's Office.