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Dunn County swears in new commissioners, auditor

Among the first orders of business for the newly formed commission would be an allocation of $25,000 to various charity programs whose mission it is to help the less fortunate.

Lundberg, Dolezal
Commission Chairman Larry Lundberg gives former Tracey Dolezal, who just transitioned from the position of auditor/treasurer to commissioner, a gift to recognize her years of service to the county.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press
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MANNING, N.D. — The Dunn County Commission welcomed new officials and recognized those who are stepping down during a regular meeting on Dec. 7. Newly elected commissioners Tracey Dolezal and Robert Kleemann were sworn in, filling the seats of former commissioners Daryl Dukart and JoAnn Marsh. Dukart retired and Marsh lost her re-election bid.

Incumbent Craig Pelton was also sworn in.

Chairman Larry Lundberg took the opportunity to thank Dolezal and Marsh for their service to the county, prompting a special response from Dukart.

“My fellow elected officials, county commissioners, regional elected officials, state elected officials, patrons, department heads, employees - thank you,” He said. “It's been a great 12 years, that's all I can say. Very educational, very enjoyable. Appreciated your input, your work — patrons, employees, department heads — you make this job what it is. Thank you.”

Marsh also expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to serve Dunn County.

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“It's been an interesting four years,” she said. “A lot has happened in that time. I've gotten to work with a lot of great people and I appreciate it.”

Dukart
Former commissioner Daryl Dukart, left, opens a gift presented by Dunn County Commission Chairman Larry Lundberg in recognition of Dukart's years of service.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

Since Dolezal was Dunn County Auditor and Treasurer, her resignation to that office, which she held for 10 years, was effective Dec. 7.

“It's just been great working for Dunn County, I couldn't be more proud of our county,” Dolezal said. “I just appreciate the chance to serve the citizens of Dunn County and working with the Commission and all the employees. We have great people.”

Jessica Kirchoffner was elected Dunn County auditor/treasurer during the November election. She attended the meeting via phone call to discuss salary and her start date with the previous commission, prior to the new commission being sworn in.

Dessie Kalihou, Dunn County human resources director, recommended the salary for the auditor elect be set at $83,574. Commissioners passed a 3 to 1 motion to set her salary at the recommended amount, with a start date of Dec. 12. Pelton, who lobbied for a higher salary of $86,923, voted in opposition.

“So, under North Dakota Century Code, the auditor's position starts officially on April 1,” Dunn County State’s Attorney Stephenie Davis said, noting that state statute also stipulates that an elected individual can fill the position immediately if the position is vacated.

Kirchoffner told commissioners she was unsure whether she would be able to start Dec. 12, but would get back to them as soon as possible leaving Deputy Treasurer Sally Whitingham to serve as interim auditor until Kirchoffner assumes office.

After reconvening with newly elected commissioners, the commission voted to rent a space in Killdeer to house the Dunn County Food Pantry. Rent was listed at $2,000 a month, plus utilities. The relocation comes as the organization's current building is being sold.

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Lundberg, Marsh
Dunn County Commission Chair Larry Lundberg presents former commissioner JoAnn Marsh a gift in recognition of her four years of service.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

“You can't imagine the need in this community,” Jim Jeske, president of the Dunn County Food Pantry, said. “It's sad. You know, it really kind of is. But what's not sad is that this county can do something about it.”

Chris Jeske, co-manager of the food pantry, also said usage of the food pantry has increased this year.

“We're getting by,” Chris Jeske said. “Our shelves are pretty empty right now.”

Pelton motioned to donate $15,000 out of the county’s federal mineral fund to the pantry. The commission unanimously approved.

Commissioners also addressed a request for funding from Elder Care Nutrition Program.

“According to their letter, it says they anticipate a $50k-$60k shortfall in the nutrition program budget due to inflation,” Lundberg said.

They voted unanimously in favor of a motion by Dolezal to donate $10,000 to the program.

Dunn County Commission
Newly elected Dunn County commissioners give their oaths of office at a meeting Dec. 7.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on the Dickinson city government, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
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