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New court administrator starting in Wadena County

Kathy Ouren, left, will be leaving her post as Wadena County court administrator on Jan. 28. Rhonda Bot will take over Jan. 29. Bot will also continue to serve in that role for Morrison and Douglas counties.

Wadena County District Court will have a new administrator starting Jan. 29, when Rhonda Bot of Miltona takes over for Kathy Ouren.

Ouren is leaving for a similar position in Cass County (N.D.) court, known as the clerk of court.

Ouren was splitting her time between Wadena and Otter Tail Counties since May 27, 2009, when she took over for Bev Mikkelson in Wadena. Ouren got her start in the court system in 1980 as the deputy administrator in the criminal traffic division in Otter Tail County.

"I kind of grew up in the courts," Ouren said.

In 1992, she was promoted to chief deputy court administrator. In 1997, she was given the top job of court administrator when Virginia Rustad retired.

Ouren said it's tough to leave two counties she's grown quite fond of.

"I'm leaving here with sad feelings and happy memories," she said.

Ouren said the local staff at each county's court administration has made her job easy and enjoyable.

"I give them all the credit," she said. "They make it easy. I just let the staff do their work -- they're good at it."

Ouren's last day is Jan. 28, and she will start Jan. 29 in Fargo. Bot will start Jan. 29 in Wadena County, and she will also continue to serve in Douglas and Morrison Counties.

Bot explained the court administrators are hired by the Seventh Judicial District, and the judicial branch is starting to consolidate court administrator positions as a cost-saving move.

Bot will shuttle between the three counties.

"It will be week-to-week," she said of her schedule. "I'll try to be [in Wadena] two days a week, maybe three for the first few months until I get acclimated."

Bot worked as a court clerk in Benton County from 1990-2000, and became the court administrator in Douglas County in 2000. In September 2005, she added Morrison County to her duties.

Bot also pointed out how integral to the process the local staff is.

"I can't stress enough how important it is that I have competent staff to make this work," she said. "They are the heart of this office."

Court administrators are responsible for keeping the records of the court, scheduling hearings, managing the staff, keeping court exhibits secure and management of fees and fines, among other duties.