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Nobles County sheriff looking for a dock

justine wettschreck/Daily Globe Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening drops a bottle of unwanted prescription pills into the new disposal box at the Prairie Justice Center.

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening recently told his county board he would like to purchase a boat lift so he can leave the county's boat on Lake Okabena. Now he's looking for a place to put it.

"I'd like to see if there's a property owner on the lake who would allow us to put our boat lift on their dock," Wilkening told the Daily Globe.

The sheriff's office patrols the lake during the summer months when a deputy is available, but the boat is kept at the law enforcement center at the Prairie Justice Center. It takes time to hook up the boat, drive to a launch and get the boat off the trailer, especially when the usual lake patrol is only one deputy.

"If we had the boat on a lift at the lake, we could have a much quicker response time," Wilkening stated. "It's a lot easier to just walk out and lower a boat."

That response time could be crucial in the event of a medical emergency or while enforcing the law.

Wilkening has talked to the city about putting a dock and lift on city property so the county could have access, but that would mean the added cost of a dock.

This is why he's looking for someone who wouldn't mind having the sheriff's office boat at their dock.

"This would mean a squad car would be sitting in their driveway whenever a deputy was patrolling the lake," Wilkening pointed out.

He has talked with Worthington Public Safety Director Mike Cumiskey about having extra keys made for the county's boat -- one for each city and county squad car.

"That way, any officer or deputy that was on hand during a lake emergency who knew how to use the boat could respond," Wilkening said. "This would only be for emergencies. The patrolling part of the job would still be on my office."

Cumiskey, Wilkening said, thought is sounded like a good idea.

The Nobles County Board of Commissioners recently accepted a $1,346 state grant for boat and water safety, and Wilkening said he is looking for grant money to get a smaller boat or Jet-Ski for other lakes in the county. The grant he received from the state is based on the statistics of previous years -- how many hours were patrolled on the lake, and how many incidents the deputies covered -- so more time spent on the water will likely bring the yearly grant amount up.