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    Supervisors sworn in; four new faces join the Barron County Board

    By Ruth Erickson,


    Barron County Circuit Court Judge James Babler swore in all 29 members of the Barron County Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday morning reorganizational meeting. They included four new supervisors, who were asked to introduce themselves.

    New representing District 4 residents of the Chetek/Prairie Lake area is Amanda Kohnen of Chetek, who said it was her first time running for an elected office. She replaces Supervisor Stacey Neuman, who did not seek reelection. Kohnen said she is a registered nurse who specializes in foot care, has four grown children and eight grandchildren, and she and her husband have sold their utility locating business to their son. She said citizens should be involved at all levels of government, and she aims to be a voice for her constituents. She beat out Randal Braun of Cameron in the spring election.

    Charles Bergeson of Turtle Lake now represents residents of District 8 in the Turtle Lake area. He fills the role vacated by Gary Taxdahl, who did not run for reelection. Bergeson said he has lived in Barron County all his life with the exception of four years in the Navy. He owns a utility relocating business, and said it is probably crazy to be starting a new business and taking on the new role of supervisor, but said it is good to be involved in community and he is hoping for a good term.

    Town of Rice Lake residents of District 25 are now represented by Pete Schneider of Rice Lake, who assumes the position vacated by Stan Buchanan, who did not seek reelection. He said he was born and raised in Rice Lake, has been married for 44 years, and they have a grown son, who is a local firefighter, and grown daughter, who works for Minnesota Power. Schneider said he owns a construction business, and he hopes his background will be a good fit as a county supervisor.

    Now representing the citizens of District 29, that includes the towns of Maple Plain and Lakeland, is Dennis Jenkins of Cumberland. He said he has been involved in town politics most of his life, is a current town supervisor, and sees his new position as a step forward. He takes over the position of longtime supervisor Dale Heinecke, who retired.

    In board elections that followed, District 16 Supervisor Louie Okey, who represents the towns of Cedar Lake and Oak Grove, was reelected chairman. District 18 Supervisor Randy Cook was also nominated but declined consideration.

    “Thank you; I’ll do the best job I can,” said Okey, who took over leading the rest of the meeting from County Clerk Jessica Hodek.

    Five supervisors were nominated for the first vice chair position, which required a second runoff vote of the top two vote-getters. District 5 Supervisor Karolyn Bartlett of Dallas, who is beginning her 13th term on the board, won that vote over District 22 Supervisor Stacey Wenzel of Rice Lake, who is beginning her third term. Bartlett held the first vice chair in her last term.

    Six supervisors were nominated for second vice chair, which in a second vote was reduced to District 21 Supervisor Burnell Hanson of Rice Lake, District 22 Supervisor Stacey Wenzel of Rice Lake and District 9 Supervisor Jim Gores of Almena. In a second vote, Hanson defeated Wenzel by one vote to retain his second vice chair position.

    Six were nominated for five positions on the Barron County Highway Committee. The top five vote-getters were Supervisors Bill Effertz and Dennis Jenkins of Cumberland, Marv Thompson of Rice Lake, Roberta Mosentine and Peter Olson of Barron. Not elected was Gores.

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