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Perham’s Kelcey Klemm moves to DL to become new city administrator

Frazee-Vergas area native Kelcey Klemm started work as Detroit Lakes’ new city administrator on April 11, after eight years as the Perham city manager. He and his wife Amanda finalized the move to Detroit Lakes with their three children this past month. DETROIT LAKES TRIBUNE/Vicki Gerdes

When former Detroit Lakes City Administrator Bob Louiseau retired at the end of March, he left some big shoes to fill, with his 30-plus years of experience in municipal government.

But then, following in Louiseau’s footsteps has become pretty familiar territory for Frazee-Vergas area native Kelcey Klemm, who took the reins at the Detroit Lakes city offices on April 11.

Klemm also followed Louiseau into the Perham city manager’s position when Louiseau left that post in 2007 to take the job in Detroit Lakes.

“I was there for eight years,” says Klemm of his former position. “I wasn’t looking to leave Perham, but the one position that has always been on my radar is the one in Detroit Lakes.”

Except for his years in college, first earning his bachelor’s degree at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, then his master’s degree at Minnesota State University Moorhead — and a brief post-grad stint as a legislative aide for the late Minnesota State Rep. Maxine Penas and current State Sen. Torrey Westrom in St. Paul — Klemm has been a lifelong resident of the lakes area.

After his stint at the Minnesota State Capitol, Klemm returned to his native Frazee to take the city clerk’s position in 2003.

He spent four years there before taking the city manager’s position in Perham, where he would remain until applying for the Detroit Lakes job back in February.

“Detroit Lakes is a town I’ve always wanted to work for,” he said. “It’s a fast growing community, and it’s had some real local success stories over the past 10 years, which makes it very attractive for a city administrator. It’s a good, active city… and it’s close to home for us.”

The “us” Klemm refers to is his wife Amanda and their three children — daughters Ava, 8, and Mackenzie, 6, and their nine-month-old baby brother Asher.

“The older girls are so good with him (Asher),” Klemm said. “They definitely dote on him.”

It’s a time of transition for the Klemms, who sold their home in Perham, bought a new one in Detroit Lakes and made the move to their new home, all within a 30-day period.

“I wouldn’t recommend it,” said Klemm wryly, referring to the hectic pace of their relocation. “It was busy and stressful, but the good news is, we’re here before the summer starts and get to settle in… and we found a neighborhood that we love.

“The girls finished up their school year in Perham this past week,” he added, though their ties to the community aren’t completely severed, as his wife Amanda still works in downtown Perham, at Sass Salon.

Though he expects that his daughters will soon become involved in a whirlwind of summer activities, including swimming lessons and golf, for now they’re simply enjoying the opportunity to explore their new home. “There’s always things to do around the house,” he said.

Eventually, they hope to squeeze in a few short family getaways.

“We like to go camping together, as a family,” Klemm said. “We usually stay in Minnesota, visit the state parks or resorts. We really enjoy that. It’s nice to get away and really spend time together.”

As far as his new position as Detroit Lakes’ city administrator, Klemm said the transition has been going well so far.

“It’s a great staff,” he said of his co-workers. “It’s a very busy office. There’s never really a slow time but this time of year especially, with all the street projects and summer activities, there’s a tremendous workload they have to handle.”

When asked about his goals and aspirations in the new job, Klemm said, “Right now I’m just trying to get a handle on things. Detroit Lakes has got some really great projects going on… the goal is to keep the momentum going. It’s a great time to be in Detroit Lakes.”

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 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