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St. James Plaindealer - St. James, MN
  • Retiring Watonwan Chief Deputy Bouma reflects on career

  • After serving as Watonwan County’s Chief Deputy for 13 years, marking a total of 34 years serving the community, Lee Bouma is ready to hang his hat and take a bow.


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  •     After serving as Watonwan County’s Chief Deputy for 13 years, marking a total of 34 years serving the community, Lee Bouma is ready to hang his hat and take a bow.
        His letter of resignation for retirement was passed out at the most recent County Board meeting, on Tuesday, Apr. 3.
        Bouma graduated from Law Enforcement School in Alexandria, MN, in 1978. From there, he burst onto the Medelia scene as an officer for four to five years. There, he was promoted to Chief of Police, which he served as for a little over 20 years.
        After that, he became the Chief Deputy of Watonwan County.
        And the rest, as they say, is history.    
        Bouma was all-too-happy to share about his retirement, effective on May 31, and his plans following it.
        “I’m looking forward to retirement,” said Bouma. “I’ve got lots of hobbies and things for me to do.”
        He also said he’s looking forward to spending some peaceful, quiet, quality time with his family.
        Then again, Bouma will be taking home with him some very valuable memories of his other family in the Sheriff’s Dept.
        “I just enjoy working with the people who work here: the Police department, the Sheriff’s Dept., and staff,” Bouma listed off. “It’s a fun environment to work in. We have a good time.”
        When asked what kind of person it takes to fill the shoes he’s been wearing for the last 13 years, he had to take a moment to consider the question, before answering.
        “Well, I think you’ve got to have a lot of patience,” He said. “You deal with people from all walks of life, and a huge range of education. You have to communicate effectively with everyone. It takes a lot of patience, because people are very emotional about their problems or their issues, and you have to be able to generally calm the situation and deal with it in a manner, and not get caught up in the emotional part of it.”
        However, Bouma confided, there has to be a level of levity, on job.
        “You have to enjoy people,” he said. “You have to enjoy being out there to help people who need help...and you have to have some hobbies besides work.”
        There was one major bit of advice that he had to give his successor, Jeremy Nachreiner.
        “Get organized,” he said succinctly and with a chuckle.
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