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Thoreen honored on his retirement

Retiring Stevens County Coordinator Jim Thoreen (left) shares a laugh with former Morris City Manager Ed Larson and former county Auditor-Treasurer Dick Bluth during Thoreen's retirement open house Thursday at the Morris Senior Center.1 / 3
Retiring Stevens County Coordinator Jim Thoreen (left) receives -- for a second time -- a plaque commemorating his years as coordinator. Thoreen first received the plaque in 1993 when he left for another job. Thoreen returned in 2003 and retires at the end of May.2 / 3
The Kiwanis Quartet honored fellow quartet member and retiring Stevens County Coordinator Jim Thoreen with a song Thursday at the Morris Senior Center. From left are Mike Vandenberg, who subs for Thoreen, Chuck Grussing, Charlie Glasrud and Ken Hodgson.3 / 3

Guests cracked a few jokes at Jim Thoreen's expense during his retirement party Thursday, and the Stevens County Coordinator laughed along with them and added a few more self-deprecating jabs of his own.

County Commissioner Herb Kloos noted, since Thoreen has filed as a DFL candidate for the Minnesota Senate, that they'll be on the "wrong side of the fence" of each other.

Thoreen drew laughs when he corrected Kloos: "No, you'll be on the wrong side of the fence."

Thoreen is stepping down after more than 12 years as Stevens County Coordinator, split over two tenures (1988-1993 and 2003-2010). He leaves with more than 30 years in county government.

Brian Giese, the county's highway engineer, will take over for Thoreen on an interim basis while the board continues its search for his successor.

Former county Auditor-Treasurer Dick Bluth said he first met Thoreen when he was county auditor for Beltrami County.

"I taught him everything I know because I started a year before him," Bluth said.

Former long-time commissioner Bob Stevenson, known for bringing boxes of day-old donuts to board meetings, brought Thoreen, whom he called a good friend, a box as a going-away gift.

"I thought, 'Hell, that's plenty good for this board,' " Stevenson said. "And they lapped them up like they were fresh."

Stevenson also said that Thoreen was a regular visitor to Stevenson's home when he was recuperating from an operation.

"When I had my heart surgery, that bugger would come over every night," Stevenson said. "I think mostly for the cookies."

Thoreen received a plaque -- again -- honoring him for his service to the county. It's the same plaque he received when he first left in 1993. Under those years, the years of his second tenure were engraved. Thoreen said his retirement would have to be permanent since "there isn't room for another line."

Thoreen said that, if he wins election this fall, county commissioners would always get special treatment in his office, and he thanked the board members, county workers and the public for whom he has worked over the years.

Kloos, who also is retiring this year, said his farewell to Thoreen and added that, "We'll always be friends, no matter what side of the fence we're on."

"When you're friends," Thoreen said, "there are no fences."