By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — Heather Kuhn has been the Deputy Register of Deeds in Dunn County for nearly 16 years and is planning to run for the Register of Deeds position in the November election.
Incumbent Register of Deeds Jim Mrdutt is retiring at the end of his term in January.
“I started in 1997. (The previous deputy was retiring). I was working for a title company in Eau Claire,” Kuhn said.
“It was great timing for me. I have always lived in Dunn County and the commute to Eau Claire was getting old, so it was nice to get back to Menomonie,” she said.
Kuhn was born in Minnesota but grew up in Menomonie. Her mother is from Menomonie, and her family moved here when she was less than a year old.
Prior to becoming the deputy Register of Deeds in Dunn County, Kuhn had spent some time working in the Eau Claire County Register of Deeds office and then worked for a title company.
“I completed my practicum for my Legal Assistant degree at the Eau Claire County Register of Deeds and went on to work in that office part-time before being offered a full-time position at a title company in Eau Claire,” Kuhn said.
“I really enjoy working here. I have enjoyed working with Jim. He is an easy boss to work for. I have learned a lot,” she said.
“We have a common goal, too. We want to help people when they come in here. We know that public service is a priority,” Kuhn said.
Being organized and detail-oriented also is important.
“You need to be a very detail-oriented person as well as an organized person to work in this office. Our office is like the library. We organize the records so that they may easily be found again. Birth, death, marriage records are needed at many important times in your life. Also, real estate records are crucial for determining real estate interests and priority liens. Although, understanding and indexing legal descriptions can be very challenging,” she said.
At times, the blending of a priority on public service and the attention to detail that allows records to be easily located takes on new meaning.
“I have gotten calls where people were headed to the airport and realized they didn’t have birth certificates. ‘Can you meet me at your office?’ they ask. One time my husband and I were on our way to a ballgame and I said we had to make a detour to the office in the Menomonie to get birth certificates. I’m glad to do it. People never forget it,” she said.
Sometimes when people file deeds, they intend to accomplish a certain outcome but their intentions are not always what ends up recorded.
When this reporter’s father died in 1992, the challenge of settling the estate included figuring out why there was a two-acre parcel in another township that he thought he had sold when he sold the main parcel. As it turned out, the two-acre parcel remained because the surveyor had been told to move back a certain number of feet from the fenceline, which created the additional parcel.
The Dunn County Register of Deeds office was instrumental in solving the mystery.
“There’s a fine line as to what we can do. We can’t give legal advice. We see the recordings and we don’t know why they chose one option over another. It’s always interesting. It’s always challenging. It is never, ever boring,” Kuhn said.
“I can honestly say I enjoy my job. When I worked for a title company, people asked me what I did. They didn’t really understand it. But they seem to understand more what I do here with the records,” she said.
Kuhn and her husband, Troy, have two children and have been married for 19 years. They live near Knapp and are in the Boyceville School District.
Their son, Jordan, is 16, and daughter, Morgan, is 13.
Heather graduated from Menomonie High School, and Troy graduated from Boyceville High School.
“We take in a lot of school activities. They are very involved in sports. My husband coaches. That’s how we spend our spare time. We enjoy it. We know it’s not going to be forever. And we have a good time,” Kuhn said.
“I was involved in activities in school, too, but now it’s different. It’s more of a family affair. Everything is at night. When I was younger playing softball, it was during the day. My grandma took me and came to the games because my parents both worked. I think everything is geared for working parents so you can make it to their activities,” she said.
Family is very important to Kuhn.
“We live near my husband’s family and are very close to both of our families. We enjoy family picnics and getting together for birthday parties and other family functions,” she said.
“Maybe it helps to put the importance of the records into perspective for me because family is so important to me,” Kuhn said.
In addition to school activities and family activities, Kuhn enjoys spending time at their cabin up north. She also enjoys playing golf and being outdoors.
Scrapbooking is another activity Kuhn enjoys, and she is putting one together for her son for graduation. She has scrapbooked family trips as well.
The Eau Claire County Register of Deeds is retiring, and her deputy is running for office, too, Kuhn noted.
“I still have connections with the Eau Claire County Register of Deeds. It’s unbelievable to say that was 20 years ago when I worked there. I worked with both of them. I learned from both of them,” she said.
“And I have learned a lot from Jim. I take my career seriously. I feel very responsible. I’m dedicated to the job. I want to do my best. The permanent records are here, and they need to be taken care of. I understand the responsibility of the records,” she said..