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Bon Homme board offers fired deputy alternate job

The doorway to the Bon Homme County dispatch and jail department at the county courthouse in Tyndall no longer has the name of deputy sheriff Mark Maggs, right, who was fired last week after winning a race for county sheriff. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

TYNDALL — Mark Maggs will have a chance to continue working for Bon Homme County for the remainder of 2018, but if he does, it likely won't be in law enforcement.

The Bon Homme County Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday in a special meeting to allow Maggs — who was fired by the county's sheriff Lenny Gramkow shortly after the polls closed in the June 5 Republican sheriff's primary — to transfer to a different department in the county. The decision is subject to negotiations between Maggs and county attorney Lisa Rothschadl to work out in which department Maggs might work and his compensation.

That decision was made after a nearly hour-long executive session between Gramkow, Rothschadl and the county commissioners. Maggs did not attend the meeting and could not be reached prior to the publication of this story.

In brief comments following the meeting, commission chairman Mike Soukup said it was important for the county's officials to take some time away from the election to gather their thoughts.

"The state's attorney will handle it," he said. "And there should be a decision soon."

Maggs, 31, was a convincing winner in the Republican primary, receiving 73 percent of the vote over Gramkow, an 878-331 margin in an election only voted upon by Republicans in the county. Because there's no challenger from another party, Maggs is set to take over the sheriff's role in January 2019.

But Gramkow issued Maggs a termination notice at 7:01 p.m. on the night of the election, one minute following the closure of the polls, informing him that he was no longer an employee of the county. Generally, South Dakota sheriffs are allowed the sole authority to hire and fire personnel.

In the county's June 7 meeting, Maggs, of Springfield, noted he was concerned about losing his health insurance with a family of four children. As it stands now, Maggs has his county benefits through June 30.

Soukup said things have calmed down for the sheriff's office, which was previously being bombarded with angry phone calls and negative comments on its Facebook page.

"Things are running smoothly, as far as operations go," Soukup said.

Maggs has worked for the Bon Homme County Sheriff's Office since March 2013. He graduated from Penn State in 2011 and received his law enforcement certificate from the South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy in 2014.

Gramkow, of Avon, has worked for Bon Homme County for more than 12 years and has more than 25 years of experience in law enforcement.

In the election, both candidates expressed a desire to fight the growing drug problem in the county and re-establishing the DARE programs in area schools to teach children about drugs, alcohol and bullying. Maggs also proposed annual town halls in each of the communities in the county to share concerns and to connect with area schools about emergency plans.

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