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Hubbard County sheriff will retire next month; deputy under investigation resigns

PARK RAPIDS - Hubbard County Sheriff Gary Mills has submitted a letter of resignation, indicating he will retire April 30.

Mills has been plagued with health problems this winter due to a defective hip socket he received in a surgery more than a year ago. The socket was removed earlier this winter after Mills contracted a staph infection, and he is scheduled to undergo a second hip surgery April 9 at the Mayo Clinic.

Mills has been sheriff 10 years. He sent the Hubbard County Board of Commissioners his letter of resignation today, indicating "it may be several months before I will be able to return to even limited duty."

Mills indicated that it would "not be fair to my employees or my constituents" to remain out on leave indefinitely.

He urged the board to appoint Chief Deputy Frank Homer as his re-placement, to fill out the remaining two years of his term.

The board took no action on the suggestion, indicating it wanted to explore all options available.

In another development, a Hubbard County deputy who has been under investigation for an alleged sexual assault since last summer also submitted his resignation, effective Monday.

The deputy had been on paid administrative leave since the incident came to light in August 2008.

He has not been charged with a crime, and Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne said he couldn't discuss whether any charges will be filed, when an investigation is ongoing.

County coordinator Jack Paul said the deputy was not pressured to resign. "He said he thought it would be best" under the circumstances, Paul said of the deputy's reasons for resigning.

Homer did appear at the county board meeting and asked the commission to consider replacing the deputy.

The county, due to a financial squeeze, enacted a hiring freeze earlier this winter and has refused to fill other vacancies.

Commissioners suggested filling the deputy's spot with part-time workers, but agreed to look into the matter because Homer said filling the position was "a matter of public safety."