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Lessons in relaxation

Dan Holm has worn many hats in his 12 and a half years with Becker County.

Emergency management, planning and zoning, environmental services... Holm has served at the helm of all three departments at various times. For the past four years, he has served as director of environmental services and emergency management.

But on June 2, Holm will be dusting off his fishing cap and heading off into retirement.

Twelve years in government service may seem like a fairly short tenure, but for Holm, his stint with Becker County was preceded by a 21-year career in pharmaceutical sales, and before that, by several years of teaching college biology.

"I've had three careers... academics, industry and government service," Holm says. A trained biologist who holds a bachelor's degree in biology (with a minor in chemistry) and a master's degree in human anatomy (with minors in biochemistry and physiology), the Duluth native says he first took the job as Becker County's environmental services officer because he saw it as a challenge.

"It was the challenge of the environmental issues facing the county at that time that piqued my interest, and caused me to pursue this (career)," Holm says.

"People are always going to be making garbage. To be good stewards of the earth we had best handle our waste products in a manner that's not going to pollute our environment."

During his 12 years with the county, Holm says he feels his department has done much to improve the county's waste disposal and recycling practices, "in cooperation with the state and surrounding counties."

And after having recently completed the process for repermitting the county's solid waste facilities over the next five years, and a new three-year hauling contract for solid waste disposal, Holm feels now is as good a time as any for him to make his exit.

With his 64th birthday just a week away, Holm feels ready to take on a new challenge: learning how to relax.

"I've always worked, since I was 12 years old," he says.

With a self-described "Type A" personality, Holm says the process of learning to relax and take things easier has been a "slow and difficult process."

For instance, Holm says he plans to take up an old hobby, golfing -- but with a less competitive mindset.

"I'm going to golf just for fun," he says. He also hopes to spend more time on some of his other favorite pursuits such as hunting, fishing and outdoor photography.

"I also want to do some traveling," Holm adds. He and his wife of 42 years, Donna, plan to spend at least some of their time visiting their children and grandchildren, including son Ray and his wife Jill, who live in Bemidji with their two children, Sam and Rachel; and daughter Kim and her husband Larry Reese, who live in Lino Lakes with their sons, Ryan and Jacob.

"My two oldest grandsons (Ryan and Jacob) are excellent ball players, both baseball and football -- I want to go down and see them in some of their games," Holm says. "And my two youngest grandchildren are just getting into sports as well. I want to take the opportunity to see them all play while I can."

But even though he enjoys traveling, Holm plans to remain a part of the Detroit Lakes community, and possibly to do some volunteer work in emergency management and environmental projects.

One thing he will miss about his work with the county, Holm says, is the people.

"The greatest things about this job are the people, and the relationships," he says. "There are a lot of hardworking people here in Becker County... people dedicated to making things work even better and more efficiently.

"It's the people you work with who make the job fun and interesting, and give you a sense of worth at the end of the day."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454