By Tim Eberly
Don Brostrom, the Hill County undersheriff, has assumed the interim sheriff and coroner's positions while the county commissioners interview four applicants beginning Monday.
Since newly retired sheriff Tim Solomon's final day on Friday, Brostrom has taken responsibility for the three positions undersheriff, sheriff and coroner until the successful applicant is appointed.
"Instead of splitting the administrative duties between two people, now one person's doing it," said Brostrom, who did not apply for the job of sheriff.
Hired in 1990 as a sheriff's deputy, Brostrom was promoted to undersheriff seven years later. If the new sheriff chooses to appoint a different undersheriff, Brostrom would go back to his previous position as a deputy.
"I enjoyed the job of deputy before I was undersheriff, so I think that it would be great," Brostrom said.
All but one of the prospects for the sheriff's position have law enforcement experience, and two of them have worked in Hill County. The deadline for filing applications was Friday afternoon. The salary amounts to $36,729 $2,305 of which is for the coroner's duties with a 1 percent salary increase each year.
Greg Szudera, a sergeant with the Montana Highway Patrol in Havre for 15 years, and Gene Harada, a former Havre police officer, have both put their hats in the ring.
Paul Nagel, a Colorado resident, is the third candidate with law enforcement experience. A former sheriff's deputy in Minot, N.D., Nagel also served on the Lacey, Wash., Police Department and was a special investigator with the U.S. Air Force.
The final applicant, William Cowan, has no law enforcement experience listed on his resume. A Havre resident, Cowan applied for the position before traveling to seek employment in Seattle.
The sheriff's duties are largely administrative. Coordinating schedules, approving vacation time, overseeing the detention center, attending meetings and paying bills are some of the duties Solomon left behind.
"Everything that happens on a day-to-day basis," said Brostrom, who also worked as one of three deputy coroners under Solomon. "Just a little bit of everything."
Brostrom, 39, hasn't ruled out running for the office of sheriff in the future. It just wasn't the opportune time.
"It's something down the road that I would consider. It just wasn't the right time in my life that I would consider it now," Brostrom said. "I have a young family. I don't want to miss the school plays and the ballgames."
The county commissioners expect to spend two days interviewing the applicants and have pegged Dec. 17 or 18 as the day they will make a decision.
After those dates, County Commissioner Doug Kaercher did not know how long it would take to get the appointee in office. "It depends on how quickly they can come on," he said.
The appointee will serve the remaining year of Solomon's term. The the job will be up for election in 2002. The period to file for the general election is from Jan. 21 to March 21. The primary election is June 4, followed by the general election on Nov. 5. Filing for election takes place in the Clerk and Recorder's Office.