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A star career concludes: McNurlin retires, Johnson named interim sheriff

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Goodhue County Sheriff Scott McNurlin, who really enjoys horses and stories of the wild west, is riding into retirement effective Aug. 9, 2018. He is shown in the 2017 Red Wing River City Days parade. RiverTown Multimedia / file photo2 / 4
Goodhue County Commissioner Ron Allen present a book about Goodhue County on behalf of the board to retiring Goodhue County Sheriff Scott McNurlin during the Aug. 9 board meeting. Thursday also was the last of McNurlin's career in the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 4
The Goodhue County Board met at the Goodhue County Fair in Zumbrota on August 9. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

ZUMBROTA, Minn. — Since 1983, Scott McNurlin has been a friendly face in Goodhue County while working for the sheriff's office and spending the last seven years as sheriff.

On Aug. 9, McNurlin turned in his badge and retired.

At the Goodhue County Board meeting, the board unanimously approved the promotion of Chief Deputy Kris Johnson to replace McNurlin effective immediately until Jan. 6, 2019 when a newly elected sheriff will take over.

Johnson has been with the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office since 1982, starting on a part-time basis. Johnson was full time in 1984 and has since served in many roles — jailer/dispatcher, patrol deputy, liaison officer for the Pine Island and Kenyon-Wanamingo school districts, operations sergeant and patrol commander. In 2015, Johnson was appointed McNurlin's chief deputy.

The board's meeting was held at the Goodhue County Fairgrounds in Zumbrota during the Goodhue County Fair.

In the resolution, the board had to approve the payment of 240 hours of vacation and 576 hours of sick leave at Johnson's current rate of pay, due to the fact that officials in elected offices don't earn vacation and sick leave.

Johnson currently earns $52.38 an hour and will be moved up to a 2 percent wage increase or $55.48. Before Johnson leaves at interim sheriff, he will be moved up to $60 an hour on Dec. 29.

Johnson said that in January, after serving his position of interim sheriff, he will be retiring as well.

The chief deputy has not been filled yet, according to Melissa Cushing, the human resources director at the county. Cushing presented the resolution to the board.

Commissioner Jason Majerus asked whether the board or sheriff's department would find Johnson's replacement. Cushing said the county and the union are in discussions.

Johnson will be responsible for appointing a chief deputy. When the new sheriff is sworn in for his term — three men are running in the primary election for two spots on the Nov. 6 ballot — he will appoint a new chief deputy.

The board presented McNurlin with a gift as well, a book called "Goodhue County, Minnesota: A Narrative History" by Frederick L. Johnson.

Thanks given to McNurlin's service

McNurlin will relocate to Wisconsin soon, with county officials saying thank you to McNurlin.

Goodhue County Administrator Scott Arneson said. "he's held just about every position in the sheriff's department ... I've had the experience of working with him the last 12 years, it's been a pleasure."

The attention wasn't just given McNurlin, with the sheriff saying how happy he was to see Commissioner Ron Allen able to attend the meeting. Allen has been undergoing treatments for leukemia throughout this summer.

McNurlin continued by calling Allen "a key member of the board."

Allen thanked McNurlin for his work on getting 800 megahertz radio service in Goodhue County, saying he did it before anyone else did.

"I think you went out and got every grant out there," Allen said. "I think in the end, we didn't pay anything for it. It's like $5 million radio system. You took every grant because nobody else was pursuing it. So the grants were there for the taking. That was a well executed, well developed system you brought into this system. I think it's going to be one of your highlights of your legacy as sheriff."

Commissioner Paul Drotos said he often relates the word "humanitarian" with McNurlin, complimenting his professionalism and treatment of people in the county.

A privilege and honor

McNurlin was able to address the board saying serving Goodhue County has been "my privilege and honor" during 35 years in the sheriff's department.

"I don't say that lightly because getting to know the people of Goodhue County, getting to live here almost my entire life, now leaving today after such a great career, is a hard thing to do," McNurlin said.

McNurlin said he hopes that he can have as much enjoyment in his retirement as he did his job working for the Sheriff's Office.

Matthew Lambert

Matthew Lambert joined the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2018 covering school board, public safety, and writing features. Lambert previously wrote for the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal. He is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication: Journalism. 

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