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NCCS director steps down

WORTHINGTON -- Nicole Names, director of Nobles County Community Services (NCCS), announced her departure from the agency effective April 5.

Names was hired by Pipestone County in July 2010 to serve the human services offices in both Pipestone and Nobles counties.

One of her largest tasks with Nobles County was to assist in the merging of the health and human services departments.

That merger took effect on Jan. 1, and when it did, she served as director overseeing the combined agency.

"I'm very pleased with the process and how we've gotten to this point," Names said on Thursday. "I'm very pleased with the current operations. I think we will continue to identify how we can improve."

Names divided her time between offices in Pipestone and Worthington, but because she was hired by Pipestone County.

She submitted her resignation to Pipestone County Administrator Sharon Hanson on Monday.

A copy of the notice was forwarded to Nobles County Administrator Mel Ruppert that same day.

Since then, Names and Ruppert have shared emails regarding her resignation, she said, but as of Thursday she had not spoken with any Nobles County commissioners about her departure.

Names has accepted a new position with Pope County Human Services in Glenwood, where she will serve as director of the single-county agency.

She said her primary reason for the move is to bring her -- along with husband Mitch and daughters Grace and Gretta -- closer to family in northern Minnesota.

When they moved to Luverne for her job, it took them five and a half hours away from their families, she added.

A native of Crookston, Names came to Pipestone and Nobles counties from Moorhead, where she worked for Clay County Social Services for 12 years.

In Nobles County, she supervised a staff of more than 40 employees, while the Pipestone staff consisted of approximately 20 people.

Nobles County Commissioner and board chairman David Benson said Thursday he was "sad to see" Names leaving, but it was wonderful she was able to find something closer to her family.

He said he planned to speak with Hanson today about the next step.

"We'll get going on it right away," he said. "We want to check with Pipestone and see what they want to do."

Benson reiterated his commitment to "looking broadly at what is best for Nobles County."

"(Pipestone and Nobles counties) have a good partnership -- we both have to work together," he added.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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