Becker County promotes from within for new recorder

Susan Syvertson has been with Becker County since 2003 — the first two years in the County Assessor’s Office and the rest in the Recorder’s Office.

Susan Syvertson.JPG
Becker County Recorder Susan Syvertson.
Nathan Bowe / Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES — Susan Syvertson is the new Becker County Recorder, and the first person to hold the job since the County Board made the position appointed rather than elected.

Syvertson has been with Becker County since 2003 — the first two years in the County Assessor’s Office and the rest in the Recorder’s Office.

She joined the Recorder’s Office and learned the business under longtime County Recorder Darlene Maneval, who retired in 2014.

“She pretty much taught us to do everything — we cross-train and learn to do everything," said Syvertson.

The Recorder’s Office was long known for its big bound volumes of documents, though of course more and more documents are electronic and digitized these days. But the basic elements of the job haven’t changed: The office keeps all land records, abstracts and torrens (in which a certificate of title is issued by a court) dating back to 1870 and 1871, when the county office first started recording with handwritten deeds.


The recorder’s office also handles vital statistics — birth, death and marriage certificates. But not divorces. The court administration office handles those. The office also handles passports and passcards, among other responsibilities.

There are four full-time and two part-time positions there, and with the retirement of longtime deputy recorder Karen Wenner, and the ascension of Jeanne Sandland to replace her, there are now two full-time openings in the department.

“It takes about two years of training to really learn the job,” Syvertson said. “We’re hoping to find someone with a legal description background.”

Syvertson was appointed by the County Board last month to fill the vacancy left by the death last year of Patricia Swenson, who was elected recorder in 2014 after many years in the county’s planning and zoning department.

Syvertson grew up on a farm north of Lake Park, in Atlanta Township, and was a member of the last graduating class of Lake Park High School, in 1989, before the district consolidated with the Audubon School District to form LP-A. She earned a legal secretary certificate from what was then Moorhead Tech, and worked in billing and payroll for nine years at R&R Transportation in Audubon. She also did some home healthcare work before landing with Becker County.

After 15 years in the County Recorder’s office, she knows all aspects of the work well.

She and Michael Syvertson have been married for 25 years and have a daughter, Isabella, age 21, and a son, Cole, 24.

When things settle down a bit, Syvertson hopes to make some progress toward digitizing those historic bound volumes that haven’t been done yet, mostly from the 1870s to the 1970s.


“I was just going through those early books,” she said. “They were handwritten in cursive back then — it’s going to be interesting.”

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