County attorney earns statewide service awardRarely do people sneak into a Goodhue County Board meeting. After all, the meetings are public and anyone is welcome to attend.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Rarely do people sneak into a Goodhue County Board meeting. After all, the meetings are public and anyone is welcome to attend.
But as County Attorney Steve Betcher sat before the board giving his report on Tuesday, nearly two dozen of his friends, family members and colleagues quietly made their way through a back door and into several rows of seating behind him.
The entire thing went unnoticed by Betcher as he focused his attention on the five commissioners in front of him — one of whom was questioning whether he could add something to the agenda mid-meeting.
That’s what the new business section of the meeting is allotted for, Betcher told him. Of course, waiting until the end of the meeting when new business is typically handled would ruin the surprise that county staff and officials had up their sleeves, so Administrator Scott Arneson went ahead with their business anyway.
The annual Association of Minnesota Counties Conference is next month, Arneson explained, and one deserving Goodhue County employee will be honored at the event.
“It’s my pleasure to announce that this year’s annual service award (recipient) is Mr. Betcher,” Arneson said.
Betcher, who was completely unsuspecting, suddenly heard applause that was much louder than it possibly could have been if it was coming from the number of people the county attorney had thought were in the room. He stood up and turned around to find a whole host of supporters he didn’t realize were in attendance.
“Gotcha,” Commissioner Jim Bryant said after the claps calmed down.
Bryant was one of more than a dozen county staff members, county commissioners and Red Wing city officials who submitted recommendations to the AMC suggesting Betcher for the association’s Outstanding Service Award.
To qualify for the award, individuals must meet criteria that include exceptional service to the county, pursuit of innovative improvements in county government, demonstration of consistent leadership and improvement of relationships and communications among county elected officials, staff members, the AMC, the public and the media.
“I’m simply going to say in every situation Mr. Betcher is a leader at the table,” Arneson wrote in his recommendation, adding at Tuesday’s meeting, “This is a huge award and very well-deserved.”
“I’m honored and humbled and I’ll try to live up to these very kind and high praises you’ve just lavished on me,” Betcher said. “I’m glad I’ve been able to be helpful to people.”
Betcher was hired by Goodhue County 28 years ago as assistant county attorney on a temporary basis. In the time since, he has been promoted to county attorney and handled prominent projects involving everything from wind development to law enforcement center agreements to silica sand mines.
“This is not a one-person job by any means,” Betcher told commissioners. “We don’t do anything alone and I appreciate all of your help and all of your support.”
The county attorney will officially receive his Outstanding Service Award at the AMC dinner and awards banquet 6 p.m. Monday Dec. 3 in St. Cloud, Minn.