Newly-elected YMC attorney resigns; election opponent sworn in as replacement

Submitted photo Mitch Kling takes the oath of office for Yellow Medicine County Board representing District 3 from Human Resources director Ashley Soine on Tuesday.

GRANITE FALLS — The Yellow Medicine County Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to accept the resignation of newly- elected County Attorney Stephen Emery, then by unanimous roll call vote appointed former County Attorney Mark Gruenes to serve the four-year term left vacant by Emery’s resignation. 

Emery submitted his resignation letter “effective immediately.” Emery had defeated Gruenes for the position of county attorney by 158 votes in the Nov. 8 election.

Gurenes had previously served as county attorney after being appointed to the position two years previously to fill a vacancy left by Keith Helgeson after Helgeson was appointed judge of the Eighth Judicial District.

Attempts to reach Emery for comment were unsuccessful at press time. 

The board also welcomed Mitch Kling as the new commissioner for District 3. Kling was chosen by special election to replace Gary Johnson who is currently recovering from a stroke. 

Kling is a farmer and previously served on Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water for 15 years, and on the board of Stoney Run Township for 17 years.

“I’m looking forward to learning and being part of the community,” Kling said.

The board also heard a presentation by Rochelle Peterson, outgoing executive director of PACT for Families Collaborative, which provides mental health services across Kandiyohi, McLeod Meeker, Renville, and Yellow Medicine counties. 

Peterson presented results of a surveys of 7th-, 9th-, and 11th-grade students conducted yearly from 2014 to 2019.

Students were asked, “Have you ever lived with someone who was depressed, mentally ill, or attempted suicide?” 

Though Yellow Medicine County ranked lowest in every year the general trend in every county was upward with alarming jumps in 2016 and 2017. In Yellow Medicine County the percentage of students who answered in the affirmative was 14% in 2014 and had increased to 26.3% in 2017, then increased to 26.5 % in 2019.

Results for the COVID lockdown period are expected to be available this summer Peterson said. 

Peterson attributed some of the problem to anxiety spread by social media use and advised parents to be involved with their children’s screen time. 

“Be engaged with your kids and help them to be healthy consumers,” Peterson said. 

In other business the board voted unanimously to approve a bid of $546,454 by Structural Specialities LLC to replace Bridge 7102 which crosses Spring Creek on 220th Avenue. The winning bid was the lowest of four.  The county originally had plans to expand the bridge until a routine inspection found it to be structurally deficient.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today