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Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening seeking sixth term

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening intends to seek reelection for his sixth term as sheriff, he announced last week. "I still enjoy the job and really enjoy coming to work," the veteran sheriff said about his decision to seek ano...

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Wilkening

WORTHINGTON - Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening intends to seek reelection for his sixth term as sheriff, he announced last week.

“I still enjoy the job and really enjoy coming to work,” the veteran sheriff said about his decision to seek another four-year term. “I’ve got a good group of staff that I have the pleasure of working with - both in the jail and the deputies. They do a great job, and I enjoy working with them.”

The filing period for county office candidates does not open until May 22, but the 58-year-old said he felt it was time to announce his bid for re-election, as county residents have been inquiring whether retirement or another term are in the cards.

“I’ve had enough people wondering what my plans are,” said the nearly 20-year Nobles County Sheriff about his decision to publicly announce his intent to be on the Nov. 6 ballot. The filing period ends June 5.

Wilkening has consecutively served as Nobles County Sheriff since being elected in November 1998 and sworn in in 1999. A former Nobles County deputy for approximately 11 years, Wilkening joined under leadership of former Nobles County Sheriff Dale Peters.

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Wilkening said he decided to run for the position in 1998 after his predecessor, Les Ebeling, was set to retire.

“I thought I could do a good job as the sheriff and continue to provide the citizens with good law enforcement service,” Wilkening said about his decision to run 20 years ago.

Wilkening said that in addition to continuing to enjoy the job and serving Nobles County residents, he is also inspired to seek re-election to continue some of the programs his office has implemented under his leadership.

Some of those programs include Project Lifesaver, a tracking wristband available to qualifying individuals with autism or dementia implemented in June 2016 and currently used by six Nobles County residents.

The addition of the office’s one K-9 to the force was welcomed in 2005.

“Previous (K-9s and K-9 handlers) were also very successful and very good,” he said. “We’ve had good K-9 handlers.”  

More recently, Wilkening said, the office completed a court security project - a two-way security booth with metal detecting capabilities on the court’s side of the Prairie Justice Center - that Wilkening said has enhanced courtroom security.

The office also adopted a new project in December. Shop with a Cop provided a Christmas shopping experience to Nobles County kids whose families needed a little extra assistance around the holiday time. Fourteen kids pursued aisles at Walmart with their deputy partner.

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Wilkening said his office is also frequently implementing and collaborating with other counties in less visible ways.

As technology has changed at more rapid rates, the need for keeping systems up-to-date has also enhanced. To most efficiently utilize resources and taxpayer dollars, Wilkening said there are multiple collaborations with area counties.

For example, he said, Nobles County shares a radio traffic recorder and 911 answering system with multiple surrounding counties. The 911 answering system technology has resulted in a cost savings of approximately $100,000 per county, he said. There are six counties that share.

“I’m always looking to share resources with other counties,” Wilkening said. “It’s saving them money, saving us money and it just makes sense.”

Wilkening also has his sights on the next project. His goal is to soon equip his deputies with Narcan - a brand of nasal spray containing Naloxone, which is used to treat a narcotic overdose in emergency situations. The nasal spray is currently available in the Nobles County Jail, he said, and is also being used by the Minnesota State Patrol.

The emergency drug would also be available to the office’s K-9 should he sniff in an overdosable amount of controlled substance while performing a drug sniff.

“You can give that to the dog, just like you do a human, and it brings them out of it,” Wilkeing said.  

Thinking back to running for the first time in 1998, Wilkening said he had intended to run as long as he was enjoying the job and feeling like he was making a difference.

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“I just want to make sure people in the county get good law enforcement,” he said. “I want to be a good leader to the staff and the programs we continue to do. I like working with people and like working for the people in the county.”

 

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