By Steve Woodhouse
Knoxville — Friday, Dec. 28, is the last day Marion County Sheriff Ron Goemaat intends to work for the office he has served for the past 23 years.
Goemaat came to work for the sheriff's office in May 1989. In addition to his private sector business experience, he had served as a reserve with the department and the Pella Police Reserves, prior to coming to work as a full-time deputy.
After approximately six years of serving as the Chief Deputy, Goemaat was officially appointed sheriff on Dec. 24, 2007, following the retirement of Gary Verwers. Goemaat was reelected to the office in 2008. At age 66, Goemaat chose to not seek reelection in 2012.
"As with any job, there are some days that were not so enjoyable," Goemaat said of his time with the office. The number of days he was not eager to come to work for the sheriff's office - and, by extension, the people of Marion County - is very small. This has been the one job Goemaat has held throughout his working life that he truly enjoyed.
Some of that is due to the people he came in contact with, whether they be fellow sheriff's employees, Marion County employees and the general public. He has made many good friends throughout the county over the years and he will miss them.
Working in law enforcement afforded him the opportunity to experience things that most people do not. A number of calls he has responded to over the years stand out. Goemaat has had a gun pointed at him, wrestled suspects to the ground, participated in high speed chases and has been a part of a number of things he would rather not reminisce about. Despite the tough days, the good times have made a stronger impression on his life.
"Overall, I've really enjoyed it," Goemaat said.
His relationship with the local media has always been strong. He has enjoyed working with local reporters and shown them a greater level of trust than outside news outlets. This is because he knows local reporters will handle delicate situations in a proper fashion.
Goemaat credits the management employees within the sheriff's office for making his job less stressful. He specifically mentioned Patty DeHeer, who handles many of the office's civil responsibilities, Jail Administrator Scott Jerkins, Chief Deputy Troy Fisher and Communications Director Martha Dykstra.
"They've always been people I could rely on to help me," Goemaat said.
He would not have been able to serve with the sheriff's office for so long if not for the support of his family.
"I want to thank my family for putting up with my calls," Goemaat said. This includes responding to emergencies in the middle of the night, working long hours and otherwise being called away from them. He is grateful for the support of his wife and children.
In retirement, Goemaat plans to "tinker" around his farm, spend time with his grandchildren and pursue other personal interests. To the people of Marion County, Goemaat says thank you for allowing him to serve. He has enjoyed working with them and serving in the different roles he has filled within the sheriff's office.
Goemaat said he is glad to come in, and leave the office, quietly.