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Cass County Board: Stevenson appointed as Cass County administrator

WALKER--Discussion was brief before Cass County Board unanimously voted Tuesday to appoint Land Commissioner Joshua Stevenson to replace Administrator Robert Yochum in November.

Joshua Stevenson, newly appointed Cass County administrator, discusses the administrator's duties with current Administrator Robert Yochum following Tuesday's board meeting.
Joshua Stevenson, newly appointed Cass County administrator, discusses the administrator's duties with current Administrator Robert Yochum following Tuesday's board meeting.

WALKER-Discussion was brief before Cass County Board unanimously voted Tuesday to appoint Land Commissioner Joshua Stevenson to replace Administrator Robert Yochum in November.

"We are fortunate to have three very strong candidates," Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk said.

"It's a waste of their time and ours," Commissioner Bob Kangas said of the possibility of holding applicant interviews before making the appointment.

"I'm ready to move forward to appoint," Gaalswyk said, making the motion to appoint Stevenson. Gaalswyk also noted the county had spent time in the last year or two "grooming a staff person (Stevenson)."

Gaalswyk said Stevenson has the character and the chemistry that fits with the county and the community here.

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Stevenson was the top ranked person among the applicants, though several commissioners repeatedly noted the strength of the next two candidates in the ranking. Since, they were not called for interviews, none of the other applicants names will be released.

Kangas said he hopes some of the 17 administrator applicants will re-apply for upcoming department head and other leadership positions in Cass County, because several seemed to have the experience in fields the county will need.

Yochum said all three top candidates for administrator called him following last week's special meeting to develop a ranking.

"That tells you something about why those candidates ranked so high on the list," Yochum said.

Cass County hired Stevenson first as a forest resource manager in 2005 and promoted him to assistant land commissioner before naming him the land commissioner in 2009 when Norm Moody retired.

In November 2014, the county board also appointed Stevenson as human resource director in addition to his work as land commissioner.

"I'm very grateful to the county board for giving me the opportunity to be the county administrator," Stevenson said in a statement issued after his appointment.

His roots in Cass County are deep.

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His parents brought him along on their opening of fishing season trip to Leech Lake when he was a month old, and he's been fishing the lake ever since-just not the first year.

Stevenson's mother's family settled in the Remer area. Many relatives are buried in the cemetery at Cass Lake, he said.

His father's relatives were Illinois farmers who planted their crops in the spring, then went to Leech Lake to fish while they waited for the crops to grow, he said.

Stevenson's father was an engineer for Del Monte Corp., so after being born in Illinois, he moved with his family to Sleepy Eye and Plymouth, Ind., before graduating from high school in Rochelle, Ill.

He returned to northern Minnesota to earn an associate degree from Vermillion Community College in Ely and a bachelor degree from Bemidji State University. He earned his master's degree from the University of North Dakota.

Prior to joining the county, Stevenson worked as a consultant for Rodenberg and Berryman Inc., a civil engineering firm in Montevideo. His consulting work with several small cities included geographic information system applications and data development.

Other work experience includes Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission; the city of Grand Forks, N.D., parks and recreation department; U.S. Forest Service; and Emerald Tree Farms.

"State, federal and local units of governments have always played a major role in my career," he said.

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Stevenson met his future wife, Stephanie, at a Swift County Board meeting. She was employed by the Soil and Water Conservation District there.

After they married, it became their dream to raise their family in northern Minnesota. They moved to Bull Moose Township with their three children in 2005 when he took the Cass County forestry job.

Stephanie now works for the Pequot Lakes School District. Their daughter attends the University of North Dakota and is in the U.S. Army Reserves. Their two sons attend Pine River-Backus schools.

Their family loves boating, fishing, ATV riding, snowmobiling, skiing and hunting, Stevenson said.

"As administrator, my goal is to leave things better than I find them. This will be difficult, given the talent that has defined the county today," he said, adding he hopes to beat Yochum's 20 years as administrator.

Related Topics: CASS COUNTY BOARD
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