WORTHINGTON — In a unanimous decision, Nobles County commissioners appointed Patrol Sergeant Ryan Kruger to the role of county sheriff, effective July 1.

The roll call vote was taken during a special board meeting this morning that included interviews with three candidates. Also vying for the job were Deputy Jay Clarke and Chief Deputy Chris Dybevick.

Kruger, who was recommended for the job by retiring Sheriff Kent Wilkening, is an Adrian native and is now raising his family there. He graduated from Ridgewater College and Alexandria Technical College with a degree in criminal justice and law enforcement, and began his career with the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office in 2002 as a deputy. During the past 19 years, he was a patrol deputy for three years, a narcotics agent with the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force (BRDTF) for 12 years and since 2017 has been the patrol sergeant.

During the interview process, the three candidates were each asked the same nine questions, ranging from financial management experience to the future of the BRDTF. All were asked where they see themselves in five years, and how they plan to work with the Worthington Police Department.

Kruger said his intention was to run for the elected position of sheriff, dependent on the outcome of Wednesday’s decision. He also noted his experience with the BRDTF and said he has a good working relationship with a lot of the communities, city councils, residents and other officers within the county’s jurisdiction.

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He said public safety will be his first and foremost priority, and spoke of his positive working relationship with the Worthington Police Department.

Kruger said there may need to be some changes with the BRDTF, and said it was difficult to see the agency break up. He said the NCSO needs to get back to working with the WPD in that area.

“Right now I think the PD and the (sheriff’s office) need to be working more closely,” Kruger said. “I think a lot of our drug crimes are happening in the city, and it’s a lot of the same people. I think it would be beneficial to have the departments share information. I think the multi-county (drug task force) was a good thing. I think we were successful when things were working the way they should.”

Clarke was ranked second among the candidates. A Fulda native, he has worked for the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office for the last 22 years. Dybevick is a Worthington native with 34 years of experience in law enforcement, the last seven of which have been with the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office. Both Clarke and Dybevick, in response to where they saw themselves in the next five years, anticipated being retired.

Following Kruger’s selection, the board set his salary at $96,500, which was also a unanimous decision. The pay range set prior to the interview process was $91,000 to $99,000. Kruger will have the opportunity to negotiate his salary in December.

He will fill out the remainder of Wilkening’s term, which was set to go through December 2022. In November 2022, Nobles County voters will have the opportunity to elect the sheriff.

In other business Wednesday, the board:

  • Approved rolling over approximately 100 hours of paid leave into Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder’s VEBA account, as he will be unable to take that many hours of vacation time and still complete work that needs to be done prior to his June 30 retirement.

“We need to have Steve in that position, not taking three of the next four weeks off,” said Commissioner Justin Ahlers, noting the projects that are on tap for this summer.

  • Appointed Pope Architecture as the design firm to work with Nobles County on plans to renovate the former KidsPeace Prairie Academy at the Prairie Justice Center into a short-term crisis center.