Sheriff Kelly Lake recently celebrated 30 years with the Carlton County Sheriff's Office.
Born and raised in Carlton County, Lake is married with four children.
When Lake was finished with college, she needed a job to pay the bills. In 1989, she accepted a job working part time as a Carlton County corrections officer while she also worked in a part-time position for the city of Cloquet.
She realized she loved law enforcement and moved up in the ranks over the years. In 1991, she became a patrol deputy, then a sergeant in 2003. She also worked as a DARE officer in schools.
“Once I started, I knew I wanted to do it,” Lake said.
When Sheriff Kevin Mangan retired before his term expired in April 2005, Lake was appointed to fill the position until the term ended.
The following year, she ran for sheriff and was elected as the first female sheriff in Carlton County. She points out there was already another female sheriff in the state who was elected earlier. Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi was elected in 2002 and just retired earlier this year.
Lake said it was a transition to learn the sheriff's office in-depth as the job requires, like how budgets and administration work.
With 30 years of constantly changing experiences, Lake said they blend together over time. She said there were a few significant events over the years that stand a little above the others, such as when the Hells Angels motorcycle group visited the area.
Another event that stands out for many residents as well as the sheriff is the 2012 flood.
“We kind of roll with it. We have good staff here and they're always up to the challenge of whatever we need,” Lake said. She said the sheriff's office also partners and works well with other local law enforcement.
One of Lake's favorite parts of her job is being able to make a difference in the community. She is also happy when residents let staff know they are appreciated. They receive letters, email and phone calls thanking employees.
“To hear that really makes me proud,” Lake said. “It doesn't happen as often as the good work that they do, but it does happen quite a bit. It's nice to see that the staff get recognized for the work that they do, because they are doing really good work every day out there and it's challenging work.”