Mills to seek third term

Gary Mills announced this week he will seek a third term as Hubbard County sheriff. When Mills first ran for office in 1998, his vision was for the department to grow with the needs of the county. After years of planning and consideration of othe...

Gary Mills announced this week he will seek a third term as Hubbard County sheriff.

When Mills first ran for office in 1998, his vision was for the department to grow with the needs of the county.

After years of planning and consideration of other alternatives, including a regional jail, Hubbard County's new Law Enforcement Center opened this spring.

Built to serve the county's current and future needs, the facility represents a basic but technologically advanced jail, Mills said.

"Because of the area's need for more jail space, the new jail has already begun renting bed space to other counties," he added.


In fact, Mills said Wednesday, the jail has 43 inmates and 23 are from other counties. "We have inmates from Cass and Clay counties and Wadena and Becker have called," Mills said.

"We are providing a greatly needed service to our neighboring counties as well as our own while at the same time reaching our goal to help defray the cost of the project," Mills said. Hubbard County is charging $55 per inmate per day.

After Mills took office, the prevalence of methamphetamine use and "meth labs" began dominating the headlines and resources of many rural law enforcement agencies.

One approach Mills took was to inform people about meth. He and probation officer Joe Peterson have given more than 30 two-hour presentations to service clubs, PTA groups and church organizations as well as school groups.

He also pursued grants, which have placed a law enforcement officer in the Nevis and Laporte schools.

He believes the effort has promoted good relationships between the officer and students and staff. The officer also provides drug education and has helped students feel safe.

During his terms in office, Mills has promoted two deputies to sergeants' positions; supervised the upgrade of the department and equipment, including in-squad cameras; dispersed deputies more evenly throughout the county and enabled them to work in the areas in which they live; maintained a schedule at the sheriff's substation in Farden Township; obtained snowmobiles and personal watercraft through corporate loan programs; and successfully obtained numerous grants.

He also has worked to build interdepartmental cooperation with ATV groups, probation, tribal law enforcement, interagency task forces, the Lakes Area Dive Team, Mounted Posse, K-9 unit and emergency response team as well as police departments, state patrol and conservation officers.


"We have met or exceeded many of our goals departmentally, but we must continue to practice to advance our law enforcement training and technology so we can better serve everyone," Mills said.

"I will use my many years of experience as sheriff to continue to recognize and address the many issues that will confront our fast-growing county," he added.

"It has been a great honor and privilege to serve, one that I will never take for granted."

In neighboring counties

There will be contenders for the sheriff's offices in Wadena and Becker counties.

In Wadena County, where sheriff Mike Carr is retiring, his son, Mike Carr Jr., a Wadena County deputy sheriff, has announced he will run, as has Ron Noon, a Wadena Police Department officer.

In Becker County, sheriff Tim Gordon is seeking a second four-year term in office while Becker County deputy Jay Nelson has announced he has entered the race for Becker County sheriff as well.

Carr is a 12-year veteran of law enforcement. He has worked as a Wadena County deputy for eight years and previously worked as a full-time patrol officer for the cities of Menahga, Baxter and Wadena.


At the Wadena County Sheriff's Department, Carr investigates child protection cases, vulnerable adult cases and narcotics. He is the field training officer and team leader of the Wadena/Hubbard County SWAT team.

"Some of my strongest assets are my knowledge of the day-to-day (operations) in the sheriff's department and the county," Carr said. "The sheriff works for the people, and needs to be well-rounded and approachable. In a small county, you need to be visible."

Noon is a 20-year veteran of law enforcement. He started in 1986 in Granite Falls and then took a position at the Wadena Police Department.

He believes a sheriff needs to be visible within the county and go to each city and individuals to ask what the concerns are.

Noon said the proposed justice center and meth epidemic are major concerns in Wadena County. Jail space is needed, but Noon questions the financial impact on citizens.

The best way to combat meth is through education, he added. Noon said he would continue having seminars for citizens and employers.

Current Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon said he has enjoyed his first four years, although it demands six- and seven-days-a-week attention.

Like Wadena County, Becker County has problems with jail space. Gordon said he has been working for a solution to the overcrowding.


"I still have ideas in my head to keep (the department) growing," stated Gordon. He cites four main areas of accomplishments since taking office: jail facilities, White Earth tribal matters, youth and public safety.

Gordon starts his 29th year with the Becker County Sheriff's Department in July.

Nelson has been with the Becker county Sheriff's Department for more than seven years and has 21 years of law enforcement experience with city and county departments in Minnesota and North Dakota.

"Being sheriff has always been a dream of mine since I started law enforcement," said Nelson, a native of Detroit Lakes.

He attended law enforcement executive training and is certified with the National Search and Rescue School and in community policing, child abuse investigation and crime scene management. He is also a Becker County Sheriff's Office field training officer.

The race ends November 7 when each county will vote which man will be sheriff.

(Staff writers from the Becker County Record and Wadena Pioneer Journal contributed to this story.)

What To Read Next
Get Local