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Huebsch coming aboard as transit director

Jake Huebsch is returning to Wadena County as the new transit director in September with the kind of experience he feels will serve Friendly Rider patrons well.

A native of Staples who graduated from Staples-Motley High School with the Class of 2002, Huebsch has a degree in community development and urban studies from St. Cloud State University along with working experience as transportation planner for Region 5 and the City of Mankato.

When Friendly Rider Transit Director Ryan Damlo decided to step down in favor of a position with Tri County Health Care, the job was posted and though it promised to be an ideal way of returning to his home ground, Huebsch was not aware of the posting until a colleague brought it to his attention.

Huebsch was far from unhappy in Mankato, but taking over Friendly Rider had several nice perks. From his work with Region 5 Huebsch knew all about the great job Damlo had done during his tenure. Damlo helped the transit system grow to nine buses with ridership in six different counties.

"He set up the transit system for success," Huebsch said. "It's a service that is growing, and I think there are opportunities to grow it even further."

The chance to return to west-central Minnesota also appeals to Jake's wife, LeeAnn, who grew up in Grand Rapids. Family gatherings in Grand Rapids will only take the Huebsch family a couple hours from home as opposed to the five hours required to drive from Mankato to Grand Rapids.

Huebsch still has family in the Perham-Ottertail area and looks forward to seeing much more of them.

Ryan and LeeAnn have two boys, Ezra, 8, and Zak, 3.

County Engineer Ryan Odden did not have to look deeply into the qualifications Huesch provided. The two men worked together when Huebsch was employed in Region 5. Yet a professional relationship was only part of the picture. The Huebsch and Odden families lived only a couple houses away from one another in Staples when the two men were growing up.

Odden was looking for someone with experience and a personality that would be a good fit for the job.

"We wanted someone who would be a little in your face," Odden said. "You need someone who can be a cheerleader for your system."

Huebsch has those qualifications. He has coached baseball and likes being involved in the community.

"I enjoy talking with people and getting involved," Huebsch said. "Public outreach is something I enjoy."

Huebsch is on track to start his new job Sept. 11.