The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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May 6, 2014

Latest: Blue Earth County Attorney Arneson announces retirement

Hoffner attorney says it was time for prosecutor to go

MANKATO — Blue Earth County Attorney Ross Arneson — one of longest-serving elected officials in the county's history — is retiring at the end of this year after 27 years in the office and never having faced an opponent in his six elections.

Arneson was appointed to the office in 1987 when then-County Attorney Dave Twa became County Administrator. Arneson said he had contemplated for some time that he would retire at roughly this point.

"It is hard to know when to retire and when to announce it," Arneson wrote in a note accompanying a formal press release. "A couple elections ago I planned to retire around this time."

He made no reference in either the note or the press release to the highly publicized and widely criticized prosecution of Minnesota State University head football coach Todd Hoffner in 2012 for allegedly creating child pornography. Those charges were dismissed by District Court Judge Krista Jass after she viewed the videos discovered on Hoffner's smartphone by a university employee and deemed them innocent post-bath play by Hoffner's young children.

Arneson's announcement instead emphasized the length and breadth of his office's work in the past 27 years.

"The public can be proud of the assistant county attorneys and legal assistants in the Blue Earth County Attorney's Office," he wrote. "Our office has processed over 60,000 cases in the years I have served as county attorney since 1987. Our staff has doubled while our caseloads have tripled."

Blue Earth County Commissioner Will Purvis, who spent many years as a deputy with the Blue Earth County Sheriff's Department and worked directly with Arneson on criminal justice matters, said Arneson was very professional.

"He was very thorough and very good about preparation," Purvis said. "Very aggressive, very good."

Arneson, who will serve out the final seven months of his current term, would have ended his career with his most controversial term even without the Hoffner case. A dispute with County Administrator Bob Meyer over pay rates for his assistant county attorneys and, ultimately, with the County Board culminated in a lawsuit by Arneson against the board.

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