Yutrzenka retires after 40 years with Pennington County

by April Scheinoha

Friday, June 28 marked the last time that Ken Yutrzenka was a Pennington County employee.

On that day, Yutrzenka retired. He had served with the Pennington County Human Services Department for more than 40 years, including nearly 19 years as its director.

Yutrzenka started with Pennington County as a child protection worker in June 1979. He was promoted to a supervisor position in 1988, and he became the agency’s director in 2000.

Three days before he bid adieu to his staff and office, Yutrzenka appeared for the final time before the Pennington County Board. Like usual, he was there to present some personnel actions and the agency’s consent agenda. Toward the end of his presentation, Yutrzenka said, “This is my last meeting, so I really want to thank you for a lot of things.”

Yutrzenka said he enjoyed attending the County Board meetings and worked with a great staff and great County Board members. He told commissioners that the County Board always had confidence in Human Services Department staff to manage the agency as they deemed fit. He added that commissioners were also there and ready to help pitch in when needed.

Noting that Social Services Supervisor Julie Sjostrand was succeeding him, Yutrzenka added that he knows the Human Services Department is in good hands going forward.

Commissioner Don Jensen said the County Board appreciated Yutrzenka’s work, especially his honesty when it came to situations faced by the agency.

Referring to Human Services Committee meetings and the food served there, Commissioner Neil Peterson quipped, “He’s brought good rolls, too.”

A retirement party was held in Yutrzenka’s honor Thursday, June 27 at the Carnegie Library in Thief River Falls. At that time, Jensen said Yutrzenka was a fabulous person with whom to work.

Yutrzenka then took the floor, noting that he had no plans to give a speech. However, he made a few remarks. Yutrzenka said that, upon finding out that he was retiring, many people asked him what he planned to do.

“I don’t have a grand plan about what I’m going to do,” said Yutrzenka, who noted that he plans to reestablish some friendships.

They also asked what he will miss. Yutrzenka said, “I’m not going to miss the work, but I will miss the people.”

Yutrzenka thanked many individuals. He thanked the county boards with whom he served, his predecessors, his staff, fellow county directors, and his family. “My family made it all worthwhile,” he said.

Yutrzenka planned to count the number of past and current employees with whom he has worked. Their employee files take up two file drawers in his office. He didn’t have time to count them before his retirement party. That led Jensen to ask what happens to those files now. Yutrzenka joked that those files will now be Sjostrand’s problem.


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