WORTHINGTON — Two weeks into his new role as Deputy Nobles County Administrator and Emergency Management Director, Bruce Heitkamp has logged several hours of meetings and completed a few of the necessary steps toward earning his certification in emergency management.
No stranger to government administration — Heitkamp served the past 13 years as Adrian’s administrator and clerk-treasurer — the Adrian native is up to the challenges his new role provides.
Heitkamp will serve as the point of contact in Nobles County for disasters and anything related to emergency management. While he has up to two years to earn his certification through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security Emergency Management, Heitkamp is hoping to complete the process as soon as possible.
After all, the county has had its share of disasters in recent years — four of which impacted the city of Adrian during Heitkamp’s tenure there.
The certification process includes online testing and attendance at trainings.
“Along with certification comes the knowledge to be able to perform the duties,” Heitkamp said. “I want to do that as soon as possible.”
With former EM directors Joyce Jacobs (now Auditor-Treasurer) and Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson (interim EM director for the past nine months) both in the building, Heitkamp said he has plenty of expertise around him.
“You can tell they cared about that role because they’re willing to share their knowledge and make sure there is a smooth transition,” he said.
Meanwhile, as deputy county administrator, Heitkamp will work closely with Johnson and take on some of the administrative duties delegated to him. His past experiences, combined with the wealth of knowledge he’s found in the Nobles County Government Center, are helping him ease into the role.
Heitkamp graduated from Adrian High School and earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from National American University in Sioux Falls, S.D., after first taking courses at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
The son of a businessman — Heitkamp’s dad was part-owner of Karl’s Farm Store in Adrian for more than 30 years — the business degree presented Heitkamp with a variety of options.
In 2003, his career began in Worthington at Client Community Services, Inc., where he was the business resource director. He worked on program budgets and within human resources during his tenure.
Then, in 2006, the opportunity to work in his hometown arose, and Heitkamp was named Adrian’s administrator/clerk-treasurer. During his 13-year career with the city, he said his greatest achievements included new housing development within the city limits, keeping a stable levy and maintaining infrastructure.
As a member of the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. from 2008 to 2014 — he was board chairman in 2013 — Heitkamp and fellow board members worked with former WREDC Executive Director Abraham Algadi to create the Nobles Home Initiative. The program has encouraged new housing development by offering homeowners five years of tax abatement.
Heitkamp has seen the success of the program in Adrian, where several new homes have been constructed thanks to the incentive.
In addition, the city annexed land and developed the Suedkamp Addition under Heitkamp’s leadership.
“There’s houses being built on there today,” Heitkamp said. “I think that was all a testament to the (Adrian) city council.”
“Our population in Adrian increased, our tax base is increasing and the levy has stayed pretty much the same,” he added.
Heitkamp and his wife, Judy — a sixth grade teacher at Worthington Middle School for 23 years — will continue to reside in Adrian. They have three children, Hunter, 22, who is a senior at St. John’s University; Halle, 18, a freshman at the University of South Dakota; and Hiltyn, a sophomore at Adrian High School.