By Anna Jauhola
The Kittson County Commissioners approved reinstating former sheriff Steve Porter as a deputy during their final session of 2018 on Friday, Dec. 28.
After an approximately 45-minute closed session, Commissioner Betty Younggren made the motion to reinstate Porter as a deputy with a contingency. Commissioner Theresia Gillie seconded the motion. Younggren, Gillie, Corey Wikstrom and Joe Bouvette voted in favor of reinstating Porter, but Chairman Leon Olson voted against the motion.
The decision is contingent upon Porter “attending a meeting with the sheriff, chief deputy, county administrator, a representative of the board and any other … official or representative the county deems appropriate to talk about reinstatement and a return to work meeting to talk about expectations about how things are going to go,” said Josh Heggum, an attorney with Pemberton Law, Fergus Falls. Heggum attended the open and closed meetings via phone.
Porter had been appointed as sheriff in 2017 after former Sheriff Kenny Hultgren took an early retirement. Porter then ran for election as sheriff, but lost the race to his deputy, Mark Wilwant, in November 2018.
Wilwant will take office as Kittson County sheriff on Jan. 8.
The commissioners closed the meeting due to attorney/client privilege to discuss “pending/threatened litigation,” according to the agenda from the meeting. In an interview after the meeting, Heggum provided the Enterprise with specific litigation discussed in the closed session.
Heggum said the reason the board went into closed session was to discuss “a threat of litigation related to an individual subject to the board’s authority, Steve Porter, and for a request of reinstatement upon expiration of a term as an elected official.”
In other business, the commission:
• Approved loan repayments from the Ditch Fund to the Revenue Fund in the total amount of $15,180.
• Approved a temporary fund transfer from the Revenue Fund to the Ditch Fund in the amount of $17,500.
• Approved a temporary transfer from the Revenue Fund to the Road & Bridge Fund in the amount of $250,000.
• Approved a motion to transfer $15,000 from the Revenue Fund to the Kittson Health Insurance Fund.
• Approved ditch levies for property taxes payable in 2019.
• Officially designated polling places for unorganized townships, all of which vote by mail.
By Anna Jauhola