Clatsop County welcomed a new juvenile director this summer.

Kelly Braaten started in August, replacing Greg Engebretson, who retired after more than 30 years of service.

Braaten said he is grateful to be working with a great staff and to have worked with Engebretson during his first month.

“I know it can’t happen like that always, but I’m definitely glad and happy that it did ... it’s a little bit more gradual,” he said.

“He’s been in this field and this area for a long time and I think also for staff it will help with the transition as well. But I think it’s going to take some time to get the lay of the land and make all those necessary professional contacts and observe and see how things are going,” he said. “From what I have observed so far, I think things are going really well.”

Braaten moved from Redmond with his wife, Karyn, and their three children. He spent over 11 years in Madras with the Oregon Youth Authority as a juvenile parole and probation officer. Prior to that, he spent five years as a juvenile parole and probation officer with Deschutes County.

“It’s kind of a natural progression once I realized I was going to be in this field for a while,” Braaten said.

“The Oregon Youth Authority supervises the highest risk population in the state. So for me, the next logical step in my mind was to find something that would challenge me a little bit differently than the average daily casework and things like that.”

He is looking forward to taking on more of a coaching or mentoring role with the juvenile probation and parole officers and working with them to find the best solutions for each child.

“We’re just really excited to have him on board with us,” said Monica Steele, the interim county manager. “We think he’s going to continue to do great things for the juvenile team and he’s filling Greg Engebretson’s shoes and we are confident he will be capable of doing so.”

Braaten is looking forward to working collaboratively with law enforcement agencies and drug and alcohol and mental health counselors.

“A lot of the time there’s more to the puzzle, sort to speak,” Braaten said.

“So, it’s not just here’s a crime that’s been committed and how do we handle that incident. How do we give them an opportunity to repair the harm to the victim? How do we give them an opportunity to repay the community? Things like that. But there’s usually more to that story. It could be a need for a connection with local service providers.”

Braaten said that through assessment and referral they can help connect the dots for each case.

“We’re all trying to figure out what’s the best for the community, the youth, the victim and how do we ultimately prevent further penetration into the adult system once they graduate our system essentially — that’s the hope,” he said.

Nicole Bales is a reporter for The Astorian, covering police, courts and county government. Contact her at 971-704-1724 or

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