After 30 years of public service to Otter Tail County and an award-winning career, West leaves a legacy
Richard West, Otter Tail County’s long serving County Engineer, will retire from Otter Tail County. West, a graduate of North Dakota State University with a BS degree in Civil Engineering, began his career with Otter Tail County 30 years ago as the County Engineer.
Tasked early in his career to plan and carry out highway projects he dedicated his career to planning, sustaining, and improving the infrastructure in Otter Tail County.
“In my career here, under Rick’s supervision, he always brought a big picture perspective. He has always been encouraging and supportive of our work,” said Chris McConn, Otter Tail County Solid Waste Director. “Rick’s personality, experience, and rapport cannot be replaced. It is something that will need to be built from the ground up by someone with a special personality. We will all miss Rick.”
West has earned several awards including the David P. Brand Safety Award, given to those that demonstrate the highest standards in public safety over their career; the National Association of County Engineers Rural County Engineer of the Year; and among others, the Minnesota Towards Zero Death Star Award. In addition to his primary role as County Engineer, he has been responsible throughout his career for administering long range planning and development, project evaluation, and safety assessment.
He has led the development of the Otter Tail County Transportation Plan which included working collaboratively with partners such as cities, townships, and MnDOT to plan for and maintain over 1,700 miles of paved roads in the County. Recently, as Public Works Director, West facilitated long range strategic planning for the county to ‘develop a vision and goals for the future of Otter Tail County that can be used as a tool for future decision making’.
“Our ability to define and implement our long-range goals begins with a well thought out plan. Without a written plan document, there is no roadmap forward to these goals,” stated West. “Our recent work in the areas of resilience, land use, public infrastructure, parks and trails, has been especially rewarding and I believe these efforts will serve the county well as it continues to move toward a bright future as leaders in the state.”
Nicole Hansen, Otter Tail County Administrator, recognized West at the Board of Commissioner’s meeting, “Thank you for your outstanding public service and commitment to residents and visitors through thoughtful leadership. You have earned the respect of county officials, colleagues, and engineers both state and nationwide.”
The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners also recognized West. “We recognize the many years of professional service, leadership, and commitment provided by Rick, and we express our utmost gratitude and appreciation for his many years of dedicated public service to the residents of Otter Tail County and the State of Minnesota.”
Brian S. Giese, President of the Minnesota County Engineers Association on behalf of his professional association, presented West with a proclamation stating, “we express our sincere appreciation to Rick for a lifetime of dedicated public service, and wish him much happiness as he begins this new chapter in his life.” Tuesday, May 25, 2021 was declared Richard K. West Day in the State of Minnesota.