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Welsch named next Olmsted County administrator

August 10, 2017 GMT

Heidi Welsch said she looks forward to helping lead Olmsted County into the future.

Welsch was appointed Monday as the next county administrator, positioning her to take over when Richard Devlin retires after 49 years in the post at the end of October.

She acknowledged she has big shoes to fill, but she said she looks forward to helping the county tackle a variety of shifting and complex policy issues as it continues to grow and become more urban. She said the key will be to continue efforts to listen to all community needs and help county commissioners make decisions to fill those needs.

“We’re a more complex county than we were 25 years ago,” she said, noting community services cover a wide scope.

Welsch became deputy county administrator on Oct. 3, 2016, when she was promoted from her previous role as Community Services’ director of family support and assistance, which brought her to Olmsted County in 2013.

With a doctorate in public administration, Welsch’s experience includes public positions with Dakota and Hennepin counties, the Minnesota State University system, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Metropolitan Council and the U.S. Peace Corps.

Devlin said it’s her recent experience that makes him confident the county will be in good hands when he retires.

“She’s going to be an outstanding administrator based on my observations during the past few months,” he said.

County board member Sheila Kiscaden credited Devlin with making sure the county is on a good path.

“I think Richard did a really nice job of helping us have the smoothest transition possible, and I think that we will benefit from that greatly,” she said.

Statute allows county administrators to be selected from within their ranks of employees, meaning an external search wasn’t needed.

“The county board may appoint as county administrator any county official or employee deemed to be qualities by reason of training, experience and administrative qualification,” said ?Dale Ignatius, the county’s director of human resources.

County Board Chairman Ken Brown said Welsch fits the bill.

“We have observed Dr. Welsch to be a highly talented, experienced leader,” he said.

Welsch started taking over management responsibilities in April, shortly after Devlin announced his retirement plans. As he nears retirement, he is working on three initiatives: finding ways to overcome crowding concerns in the county’s detention center, seeking new revenue streams at the county’s waste-to-energy facility, and developing a business plan for Graham Park.

As she prepares for her new role, Welsch said she looks forward to working with county commissioners, staff and residents to build the county’s future.

“It’s my great privilege to serve the board and people of Olmsted County,” she said.

In other business, the board:

• Approved accepting National School Lunch Program reimbursements for qualified students for the Olmsted County Juvenile Detention Center. Participation in the program is expected to provide an additional $4 per day for each student, while costing an extra 15 cents per meal to meet nutritional requirements. County staff expects to see a net financial gain of approximately $25,000 per year.