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Dispatch center director will retire

Kent Therkelsen, who helped launch Dakota County's central emergency dispatch center, has announced he will retire this spring.

"In 2006 when I got involved with this I wanted to be part of a start up project," said Therkelsen, the first executive director of the Dakota Communications Center. "It's been my plan all along to leave when I felt that there was good operational stability," said Therkelsen. "I think that's where we're at."

Therkelsen led the start up of the facility that serves as the dispatch center for 11 cities in Dakota County and a number of townships. The center opened Dec. 27, 2007.

"It's been more rewarding than people will know," said Therkelsen.

While it encountered some difficulties early on things have smoothed out. Therkelsen said the center dispatches faster than the individual centers did and is beating national averages.

"We certainly had some very visible bumps early on but the staff stayed focused and has come a long way in a short time," said Therkelsen.

Rosemount police chief Gary Kalstabakken said despite a rocky beginning the center has gotten off to a good start especially when compared to the opening of other, similar centers. He credited Therkelsen for his leadership and ability to manage multiple agencies and interests.

"He has been the calm and patient person on board keeping people focused," said Kalstabakken.

Therkelsen, who was a police officer for 35 years before taking the DCC job, credited the hard working people at the center for making it work as well as it does.

"People tend to look at these projects as technology project but this really was a people project and they've done a very nice job," said Therkelsen.

Therkelsen, who was hired in 2006, said he would like to do some consulting work and possibly teach after he's done with the DCC. He said he will take some time for himself and his family.

Finding a replacement could take a while. Therkelsen said the DCC Executive Committee and Board of Directors will create a plan in February to find his replacement. Therkelsen informed the board of his decision Dec. 21.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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